Late Bronze Age ringwork in East Devon

Cotswold Archaeology’s excavations at Hill Barton, Exeter, which finished in 2015, are on the way to being fully published. One aspect of the site was the discovery of a Late Bronze Age ringwork enclosure with a central roundhouse whose rarity in the region has prompted the publication of a summary article in the Prehistoric Society’s Autumn edition of The Past newsletter (pages 14-16).

The enclosure, measuring 37 m across and defined by a deep ditch, was one element of a complex of archaeological features on the site dating from the Neolithic through to the Roman period. The enclosure ditch contained very few artefacts – just eight sherds of residual Early to Middle Neolithic pottery, two sherds of Trevisker Ware and a small quantity of worked flints – none of which provided dating for the enclosure itself. However, the ditch and central features yielded charcoal, from which a series of 12 radiocarbon samples gave consistent dating. The earliest dates fell around 1100 cal BC (from the basal ditch fills) with a more or less continuous sequence of ditch infilling until c. 600 cal BC when the enclosure went out of use. This conclusively demonstrates a major episode of occupation starting in the Late Bronze Age and continuing until the Early Iron Age for which there was very little other evidence.

A report on all the findings from the excavations is to be published in forthcoming volume 77 of Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society.

Hill Barton ringwork