Causewayed enclosures

A causewayed enclosure is a roughly circular or oval shaped area bounded by one or more lines of banks and ditches. The ditches are particularly distinctive because they were usually constructed as a series of elongated pits, with narrow blocks of unexcavated land forming a causeway between each segment. Inside the line of ditches may be a bank or wall of soil and/or stone, but in contrast to the ditches, these ramparts are usually continuous except for a few entrances. They are thought to have been used variously as settlements, sometimes seasonal, and ceremonial sites.


The tradition of constructing and using causewayed enclosures in England may be fairly precisely dated to the first half of the third millennium BC - the middle Neolithic period - on the basis of pottery and radiocarbon dates. Over 60 radiocarbon dates are currently available from 17 excavated enclosure sites. The majority of these dates fall within the period 3000 - 2500 BC; the few dates outside this range can mostly be explained as relating to earlier or later activity on the site. Causewayed enclosures represent one of the earliest classes of field monument known in England.


Causewayed enclosures were constructed in a variety of locations, including hill-tops, hill-slopes, promontories, and valley bottoms. Many were situated on the interface between two contrasting environments, for example the junction of downland and a major river valley. Causewayed enclosures are widely scattered throughout southern, south-western, central, and eastern England, with particular concentrations along the upper Thames Valley, the Cotswolds, and on the chalk downs of Sussex . A few possible examples have been reported in northern England, but none have been authenticated by excavation.


There are several causewayed enclosures either in Buckinghamshire or just outside it. Three lie along the Thames, such as the one at Yeoveney Lodge in Staines on the Colne, a tributary of the Thames, one at Dorney Reach, north of the Thames and one at Eton Wick, south of the Thames in Berkshire. The other possible causewayed enclosure in the county is on the Padbury Brook, a tributary of the Great Ouse, at Hillesden in the north of Buckinghamshire.