Reasons for Designation
Henges are ritual or ceremonial centres which date to the Late Neolithic
period (2800-2000 BC). They were constructed as roughly circular or oval-
shaped enclosures comprising a flat area over 20m in diameter enclosed by a
ditch and external bank. One, two or four entrances provided access to the
interior of the monument, which may have contained a variety of features
including timber or stone circles, post or stone alignments, pits, burials or
central mounds. Finds from the ditches and interiors of henges provide
important evidence for the chronological development of the sites, the types
of activity that occurred within them and the nature of the environment in
which they were constructed. Henges occur throughout England with the
exception of south-eastern counties and the Welsh Marches. They are generally
situated on low ground, often close to springs and water-courses. Henges are
rare nationally with about 80 known examples. As one of the few types of
identified Neolithic structures and in view of their comparative rarity, all
henges are considered to be of national importance.
Although Shearman's Wath henge has been reduced by ploughing, it survives well
as a buried feature, the component parts of which are clearly visible from the
air. The external ring of pits or post holes makes the henge an unusual
example of its type, perhaps suggesting a phase of adaptation.
The fills of the buried ditch and the pits will retain rare and valuable
archaeological evidence, including artefacts, relating to the monument's
construction, dating, period of use and function. Environmental material
preserved in these same deposits may illustrate the nature of the landscape in
which the monument was set.
The buried remains of Shearman's Wath henge are situated 330m north of
Thimbleby Mill on the glacial sands and gravels of the flood plain edge, some
150m east of the River Bain.
The monument, which has been reduced by ploughing, can no longer be seen on
the ground. It is, however, clearly visible from the air, and has been
recorded on aerial photographs since 1970. These photographs show a series of
cropmarks (areas of crop growth enhanced by higher moisture retention) which
represent the buried ditch and the outer ring of post holes.
The ditch measures up to 2m in width and encloses an oval area roughly 25m in
diameter. It is broken by a broad causeway or entrance facing north west, and
a second, less distinct entranceway directly opposite, to the south east.
Slight breaks in the ditch around this south eastern entrance are thought to
indicate segmented construction.
No traces of an outer bank have been recorded to date, but the ditch is
enclosed - at a distance of up to 3m - by a ring of at least 24 circular pits.
The pits are evenly spaced around the ditch and entrances and may once have
supported posts or even stones.
Fieldwalking in the area around the henge has produced worked flint which is
typically associated with this class of monument. The henge is thought to
have originated in the Late Neolithic period, remaining a focus of attention
during the Early Bronze Age.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.