Lambourn Downs National Mapping Programme project
This project covers 600 square kilometres of chalk downland known as the Lambourn Downs and a strip of the Vale of the White Horse. The survey resulted in a 42% increase in the number of known sites, mostly lynchet banks, medieval ridge and furrow and late prehistoric or Roman field systems, Bronze Age round barrows and a considerable number of previously unrecorded prehistoric enclosures.
The diverse archaeology of the Lambourn Downs
There is evidence of a rich history of both agricultural activity and settlement remains from later prehistory through to the post-medieval periods on the Lambourn Downs. Much of the upland area was intensively cultivated during the Romano-British period, and extensive co-axial field systems have been recorded in the higher regions.
Field systems fell out of use, remaining largely uncultivated grassland until the 20th century. Though showing signs of plough damage, many were recorded as substantial earthworks on RAF photographs taken between 1939 and 1946. Continued deep ploughing and creation of larger fields has reduced many field systems to isolated fragments of bank and lynchet visible only as subtle earthworks and soilmarks on aerial photographs. Effectively, in just over half a century, virtually all traces of these field systems have been obliterated.
Later prehistoric sites: settlements and ‘banjo’ enclosures
The survey recorded a number of examples of both enclosed and unenclosed prehistoric settlements, mostly dating to the Iron Age. One such settlement discovered on the clay vale appears very similar to the Iron Age settlement of Claydon Pike. Also recorded were 12 cropmark examples of mid-late Iron Age ‘banjo’ enclosures, all located in close proximity to one another in the central zone of the Lambourn Downs. The function of these sites is still not entirely clear, though excavated examples have revealed evidence of settlement activity.
Key findings from the project can be found in the report:
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Historic Places Investigation
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