Stonehenge Riverside Project: Background part IV

The only feature of later date was an Iron Age ditch which was filled by colluvium (soil wash) that accumulated from the Roman period onwards.


contour survey

Magnetometer and resistivity surveys have detected many more features than were known before, both inside and outside the henge. In 2004 we finished a contour survey of the henge.

The beginning of this project has provided an opportunity to reassess Durrington Walls and its relationship with Woodhenge. Unlike the smaller site of Avebury, this enormous 17-hectare enclosure appears incongrously positioned, on the steep slope of a small valley. Yet it was no doubt carefully sited, with its west and east entrances emphasising a downhill line of access from the high ground of Larkhill to the riverside. Climbing to the flat summit of Larkhill, on the solstice axis with Stonehenge, geophysical survey has identified possible Neolithic monuments here which will be investigated in 2005.

In 2004 we also started landscape studies of the many monuments on Salisbury Plain either side of the Avon. Durrington Walls lies at the centre of the largest concentration of Early Bronze Age burial mounds in Britain, along with various Neolithic burial mounds and other monuments. Although known about for a long time, these remains are being investigated in terms of their topography to understand how they might have been experienced in prehistory. Scientific analysis of the ancient river channels and floodplain of the Avon has also begun, and should allow us to find out more about the largely treeless prehistoric landscape and about the use of the river at that time. These projects will continue in 2005 and beyond with excavations continuing at Durrington Walls and other Neolithic monuments around Stonehenge.

The Stonehenge Riverside Project team

The Stonehenge Riverside Project is jointly directed by Mike Parker Pearson (Sheffield), Joshua Pollard (Bristol), Colin Richards (Manchester), Julian Thomas (Manchester), Chris Tilley (UCL) and Kate Welham (Bournemouth). It provides opportunities for students from a series of universities to gain fieldwork experience within a collaborative framework in which a diverse series of approaches are directed at the landscape: survey, geophysics, excavation.