Diggers' Diaries: Marden henge
Our Dig It! excavation competition winners Hugh (16), Tom (14) and Thomas (11) joined the archaeological team from the University of Reading Archaeology Field School on Sunday 17th July for a fantastic day of archaeology. They were helping the team to search for evidence of the Neolithic landscape around Marden henge.
About Marden henge
At the head of the River Avon in Wiltshire lies the largest henge in the British Isles, enclosing an area of over 15 football fields in size, within its bank and ditch. Known as Marden henge, it is the least understood of the four British ‘superhenges’ (the others being Avebury, Durrington Walls, and Mount Pleasant), so named because of their size.
Marden henge is located within the Vale of Pewsey, lying about midway between Avebury and Stonehenge, placing it at the heart of one of the richest and most exceptional Neolithic landscapes in Europe.
Last year the University of Reading Archaeology Field School excavated the chalk floor of an exceptionally rare and well-preserved Neolithic building, over 4,000 years old! Flint flakes, bone needles, and pottery still lay where they had been left thousands of years ago on the floor surface. This summer they are continuing their work within the henge itself, aiming to understand more about the date and function of this amazing monument. And Hugh, Tom and Thomas joined the team, armed with their brand-new trowels, kindly supplied by YAC's friends at Past Horizons
During my day at Marden henge I was first shown around the site by graduates from the University of Reading. We were told how each trench is used to gather information about what happened at this henge during its use.
After finishing the tour we headed off to the flotation section of the finds area where we sifted through samples of soil to separate the sand from large rocks and flints. We then had our lunch and were shown finds that had been found on the site such as a Roman hairpin, Neolithic scrapers and arrowheads which were remarkably intact.
I then got the chance to clean a possible gulley in the entrance of the henge and found a flint which they would have used, as well as a fossilised shell. The day ended with paperwork; filling out what we had been doing in the trench on a context sheet. My best find was probably the flint since, if you think about it, the last contact that it had with man was over 4,000 years ago and it is still in the same condition, which is remarkable!
Thank you for the great day I had at Marden henge. I found the staff and students really helpful and keen to tell me all about what they were doing.
I really enjoyed the floatation and the tour, but the best part of my day was doing the dig. I liked it because I found a piece of flint that had been worked away by a person thousands of years ago. I really liked the fact that I was the first person to touch it before it got taken to a museum. I really hope that you keep digging at Marden henge and that I can go again.
The archaeological team said...
The young archaeologists had a great day of digging, finds sorting and flotation. We really enjoyed having them here and we are assured that they had a great time too!