Marden Environs Geophysical Survey
Geophysical survey was undertaken to enhance an earlier National Mapping Programme (NMP) aerial survey project focused on the important earthwork remains of a major Neolithic henge at Marden, Wiltshire. The aerial photography had identified numerous ploughed out Bronze Age barrows, a small henge monument and a Roman villa settlement near the villages of Charlton St Peter and Wilsford.
Caesium magnetometer survey was undertaken in two areas near the villages of Marden, Wilsford and Charlton St Peter and targeted the ploughed out barrow cemeteries at both sites, the plough-levelled Wilsford henge and the Charlton Roman villa site.
The purpose of the geophysical investigation was to assess the aerial photography, as some of the enclosures appear infrequently as crop marks, and enhance a previous geophysical survey at Charlton St Peter.
A towed array of 4 high-sensitivity caesium magnetometers was used together with a GPS receiver to simultaneously record positional data to provide rapid and clear definition of a range of buried occupation remains, such as in-filled ditches, pits, burnt features and larger post-holes – over a total area of over 20Ha.
The surveys provided detailed evidence for activity within the wider setting of the Marden henge, potentially spanning the Neolithic to Roman periods. Much of this was previously recorded by the aerial survey but the geophysics provided several enhancements.
Archaeological activity detected by the geophysical surveys included:
- The Wilsford Neolithic henge monument recorded as a broad irregular circular ditch interrupted by an entrance causeway facing north-east towards the River Avon and new evidence for an interior circle of possible post-hole pits.
- Confirmation of the ploughed out Bronze Age round barrows, visible as ring-ditch anomalies in the magnetometer data-sets from both the Marden and the Charlton barrow cemeteries.
- Evidence of later Romano-British settlement activity at both sites, represented by an enclosed villa complex including stone buildings set within ditched enclosures at Charlton, and a previously unrecognised enclosed farmstead at Marden that had not appeared in the aerial photographic record before.
The combined remote sensing data demonstrates that the Marden Environs are rich in multi-period archaeological remains and the survey results will help us to support local landowners in protecting and managing these vulnerable sites.
The key findings from the project are published in research reports available through the Research Department's Reports database.
The images used on this page are copyright Historic England unless specified otherwise. For further details of any photographs or other images and for copies of these, or the plans and reports related to the project, please contact the Historic England Archive.
For further information on a project or any other aspect of the work of the Remote Sensing Team please contact us via email using the link below.
Historic Places Investigation
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