Timber circle, hengi-form monument and part of a pit alignment at Catholme

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019109

Date first listed: 23-Jan-1973

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Dec-1999

Map

Ordnance survey map of Timber circle, hengi-form monument and part of a pit alignment at Catholme
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Staffordshire

District: East Staffordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Barton-under-Needwood

National Grid Reference: SK 19451 16718, SK 19506 16819, SK 19646 16675

Summary

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Timber circles are the remains of large communal buildings used as meeting places or ceremonial centres during the Late Neolithic period (3000-1000 BC). They are generally round or oval in plan and constructed using two or more concentric rings of substantial timber uprights which were either free- standing or acted as roof supports. Each ring may contain between 6 and 60 individual posts, the number being related to the diameter of the ring. Entrances were provided through the posthole rings and are generally marked by wider than average postholes either side of the gap. Associated features can include additional postholes within and outside the circle, floor surfaces and grave pits. Finds from the postholes and the interiors of the timber circles provide important evidence on the chronological development of these sites, the activities carried out within them and the type of environment in which they were constructed. Timber circles survive as arrangements of postholes, buried features best seen from the air, and consequently sites are generally identified from aerial photography as discrete monuments or as components of henges and henge enclosures. Examples in England are found widely scattered around central and southern counties, with a small number recorded in Wales and Scotland. Dorset and Wiltshire provide the focus of distribution for those associated with henges and henge enclosures, while discrete examples are extremely rare. Less than 50 examples of timber circles have been identified. In view of their rarity and importance as one of the few types of identified Neolithic structures all examples are identified to be nationally important.

Despite ploughing, the timber circle at Catholme survives well and is considered to be one of only three discrete timber circles currently identified nationally. The fills of the postholes will retain structural evidence, namely post replacing and recutting, of phases of rebuilding and modification. They will also provide artefactual information for the date of the circle's construction, its function, and the duration of the monument's use.

Hengi-form monuments are ritual or ceremonial centres closely linked with burial and dating to the Middle and Late Neolithic periods. They are very rare nationally with only 24 examples known and in view of this, all hengi-form monuments are considered to be of national importance. Aerial photographs have indicated that the buried remains of the hengi-form monument north of Catholme survive well. The fill of the buried ditch and the external postholes will retain artefactual evidence for the chronological development of the monument and for the types of activity that occurred here.

Pit alignments are among a fairly wide range of monuments of later prehistoric date and although little is known about their function and significance, they are believed to be related to the division of the agricultural and political landscape. The pit alignments at Catholme are considered to be spatially associated with the buried remains of other prehistoric monuments in the area. Despite the damage caused by ploughing, archaeological excavation adjacent to the monument has demonstrated that the fill of the pits will provide valuable information relating to the landscape within which they were originally excavated.

Taken as a whole, the monument at Catholme will advance our understanding of Neolithic and later prehistoric societies, in particular, the ritual practices and technical abilities of their builders.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes the buried remains of a Neolithic timber circle, a hengi-form monument and part of a pit alignment located on the western gravel terrace of the River Tame, to the east of Catholme. It is protected within three separate areas.

The timber circle to the east of Catholme has been reduced by ploughing and its remains are no longer visible on the ground surface. It is visible, however, as cropmarks, areas of enhanced crop growth over the fills of the buried postholes which regularly appear, and have been recorded from the air on a number of occasions between 1945 and 1995. The circle is roughly round in plan, approximately 50m in diameter, and consists of a regular arrangement of closely spaced postholes which are radially aligned. At least five concentric circles of some 225 postholes have been identified.

The timber circle at Catholme is spatially associated with the buried remains of a hengi-form monument which is situated 200m to the west, within a separate area of protection. It has also been reduced by ploughing and the earthwork remains are no longer visible above ground level. Aerial photographs have revealed that the hengi-form monument is roughly circular in plan and its central area, which measures 17m in diameter, is enclosed by a ditch that will survive as a buried feature. Short lines of postholes are visible radiating out from the ditch and are arranged in a `wheel-like` pattern.

Approximately 200m north west of the timber circle, aerial photographs have identified the buried remains of a pit alignment which runs roughly west-east for about 600m. A second alignment, approximately 450m in length, branches off in a north easterly direction from the central section of the former. Part excavation in 1999 immediately to the west of the monument provided evidence that the pits forming the alignments average 1.3m in diameter and are approximately 0.5m deep. A 150m long section of the west-east alignment immediately to the north of the hengi-form monument together with the first 30m section of the alignment running north eastward are included in the scheduling within a third area of protection in order to preserve their relationship with the hengi-form monument.

MAP EXTRACT 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.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 21679

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Other
Air Photo Services Ltd, Land at Catholme, Staffordshire, (1999)

End of official listing