Visit date: 15th January 2012

Weather: Absolutely freezing but clear blue skies. Not weather to stop still in for long.

Introduction

From the car park at Overton Hill, the route followed the Ridgeway up as far as the 214 spot height on the OS map. From there, a path along the edge of the field ended up in a field with Down Barn Enclosure in it. Climbing the hill following the footpath, past a series of the platforms of a Roman settlement and then crossed over to look at the experimental earthworks (on the Ordnance Survey map as Climatological Station). Crossing a field of grey wethers (sarsens), the next point was Wroughton Copse where the outline of the settlement Fowler called ‘Raddun’ was observed.

Figure 1: Map of the area. Source: http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata/arch-302-1/dissemination/gif/webimages/monograph/fyfod_monograph/(3.3).gif

Down Barn Enclosure

Grid Reference:  SU 1302 6981

Site Overview

The Down Barn enclosure is a 0.75 hectare trapezoidally-shaped enclosure (Wilts SMR SU 16 NW 314) and is in the bottom of a dry valley called Pickledean  (Fowler 2000c : 92). It has a pond and is close to several trackways, some of which extend beyond the local area (Fowler 2000c : 99).

Investigation History

Year Investigation type Investigation Details
1961 Site Discovery
1962 Excavation Fowler ( 2000c : 97) reports that John Scantlebury and boys from Marlborough College Archaeological Society excavated this site and published an interim report, summarised additionally in Fowler 2000c. They found what may represent a hut or dwelling, lots of pottery and animal bone and the whole assemblage is consistent with late 4thCentury AD Romano-British occupation, or later (Wilts SMR SU 16 NW 314)Additionally may have been EBA ‘Beaker’ type pottery, but the excavation was incomplete and records unavailable (Fowler 2000c :97).
1964 Survey The site was surveyed in 1964 (Fowler 2000c :99) – see Figure 4
1996 Excavation Fowler (2000c : 98-99) reports also that a second excavation took place, directed by Gill Swanton of Bristol University, and the 1962 trenches were reassessed and he provides an interim report. More stratigraphic information was obtained and a Neolithic/EBA land surface was exposed. Post-holes, pottery and flint were discovered, including some Mesolithic finds. Over the top of this was a layer of humic material with no artefacts in it. Above this was the early Romano-British material, with no evidence for Iron Age occupation.Fowler also notes that the majority of the finds came from above the humic layer and that this was not constrained to the immediate environment and was found also beneath the banks of the enclosure, and was from the 1st-2nd Centuries AD (Fowler 2000c :99).

 

 

Figure 2: Down Barn Enclosure: plan, 1964. The northern side overlies the terrace-way along the north side of the Dene; the pond has been largely infilled since the survey. The axis of the long trench excavated north east-south west across the site ran immediately east of the more westerly of the two sarsen stones along the front of the southern platform. An area excavation also took place in the centre of that platform. Source: Fowler 2000c Fig 6.14 p99

Chronology and Current Interpretation

The prehistoric finds from this site were under a thick layer of what might be colluvium, and this may be obscuring many other sites that do not have above-surface remains (McQueen 2009 :7), and therefore may not be giving a complete picture of the area.

The 1996 excavation established that the enclosure must be later than the 1st-2nd Century AD (Fowler 2000c : 99) but with no real finds dating from the enclosure itself he states that it could be of any date. He points out that the lack of finds could be down to a use as an animal enclosure, or it could date from a time when pottery was scarcely used, such as between the 7th and 9th Centuries AD. 10th Century charters do not mention it though there are nearby bounds (Fowler 2000a :27), although it is not clear why they should unless there was nothing more robust to take as a fixed point. Fowler proposes that it might be a medieval sheepcote and possibly only part of a larger complex as per ‘Raddun’ (see below) (Fowler 2000 :99). Fowler considers the site to be significant not because of the enclosure necessarily, but for the drawing of attention to the prehistoric layers buried beneath the purported colluvial layer, which may hint at a land use that caused this catastrophe (Fowler 2000a :27).

 

‘Raddun’ (WC on Figure 2)

Grid Reference:  SU13817074

Site Overview

 

Figure 3: 'Raddun' earthworks and Wroughton Copse Jan 2012. Copyright K Bragg.

Still just about visible, even in Figure 6, are the slight earthworks that represent the site Fowler (2000c : 18) called ‘Raddun’, just south-east of Wroughton Copse, in a field called Wroughton Mead.

‘Raddun’ as a name is mentioned in a 1248 document, given as meaning ‘Red Down’ and alters over time to give ‘Wroughton’ (I. W. Blackwell 1996). This was not realised at the time of assigning the excavation identifier, hence the representation with ‘WC’ but ‘Raddun’ is used for the settlement within Wroughton Mead, to avoid further confusion. It is on a south-facing slope which catches the sun, but also the prevailing wind (Fowler 2000b)..

Figure 4: Plan of the field archaeology of Wroughton Mead showing the fragmentary pattern of prehistoric field systems, clearance mounds, the local contexts of excavated sites WC and 10, and the successive enclosures of the Mead itself. Source Fowler 2000c Fig 7.4

Investigation History

Year Investigation type Investigation Details
1954 Air Photograph St Joseph took an oblique aerial photograph of Wroughton Copse from the east, which showed up the site clearly (Fowler 2000c)
1960 Excavation

 

Chronology and Current Interpretation

The chronology of this site comes from a blend of archaeological evidence and documentary sources (Fowler 2000b; Fowler 2000c : 121).

 

Figure 5: Plan of 'Raddun' (Wroughton Copse excavations, site WC), showing excavated buildings and other features. (Source Fowler 2000c fig 7.5)

 

Dates Evidence and Interpretation
Later prehistory ‘Celtic fields’ underlay the settlement earthworks (Fowler 2000b)
Early-mid Saxon Finds of organic-tempered pottery, and the place-name itself ‘Raddun’ lead Fowler to propose that there had been activity in this area in the Saxon period (Fowler 2000c :121).
1200-1220 Enclosure B (see Figure 8) and probably an early timber phase of Building 2 – possibly as a shelter for livestock, and a large pond (Fowler 2000c : 121).
1220-1260 Building 4 (longhouse) constructed in enclosure B and enclosure C (see Figure 8) added (Fowler 2000c :121).
1260-1300 Buildings 1, (rebuilt) 2, and 3 built as a replacement to building 4, with stone footings. Evidence for smithing in the remains of building 4 and an oven inserted in the northern end (Fowler 2000c : 121). Building 2 appears to have been an animal shelter (Fowler 2000c :125).
1300-1318 Bad harvests and then two wet years with no harvest in 1316 and 1318 meant that what was already a marginal existence at ‘Raddun’ became untenable and the place was deserted (Fowler & I. Blackwell 2000 :140). Blackwell (I. W. Blackwell 1996) notes that no references to ‘Raddun’ were found after this until the end of the 15th Century.
1490-1650 Document of 1493 mentions a ‘grange’ and this may well be the long building found in enclosure C

 

Figure 6: Interpretation in diagrammatic form suggesting four phases of development on site WC, the medieval farmstead identified as 'Raddun' a = in the early thirteenth century; b = mid-thirteenth century; c = late thirteenth century; d = early fourteenth century

‘Raddun’ is interpreted as being a major part of the pastoral concern of the manor: a place where many sheep were kept, along with cows, oxen and chickens, and from the archaeological evidence, also pigs and horses, with dogs also present (I. W. Blackwell 1996).

Bibliography

Blackwell, I.W., 1996. “Raddun”: the documentary evidence (Fyfod Working Paper 07a FWP07a) [Online]. In Fyfield and Overton Project, 1959-1998 [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] (doi:10.5284/1000336). Available at: http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata/arch-302-1/dissemination/pdf/disk1/fwp07/fwp07a.pdf [Accessed May 25, 2012].

Fowler, P.J., 2000a. Down Barn Enclosure: prehistoric stratigraphy, Roman occupation and a postRoman earthwork (Fyfod Working Paper 66 FWP66) [Online]. In Fyfield and Overton Project, 1959-1998 [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] (doi:10.5284/1000336). Available at: http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata/arch-302-1/dissemination/pdf/disk8/fwp66/fwp66b.pdf [Accessed May 24, 2012].

Fowler, P.J., 2000b. Excavation of the medieval settlement of “Raddun”, Wroughton Mead, Fyfield Down, Wiltshire (Fyfod Working Paper 65 FWP65) [Online]. In Fyfield and Overton Project, 1959-1998 [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] (doi:10.5284/1000336). Available at: http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/adsdata/arch-302-1/dissemination/html/fwp65.html.

Fowler, P.J., 2000c. Landscape Plotted and Pieced: Landscape History and Local Archaeology in Fyfield and Overton, Wiltshire, London: Society of Antiquaries of London.

Fowler, P.J. & Blackwell, I., 2000. The Land of Lettice Sweetapple: An English Landscape Explored, NPI Media Group.

McQueen, M., 2009. Barbury Castle Environs: Air Photo Survey and Analysis. Research Department Report Series no. 81-2009, Swindon: English Heritage. Available at: http://services.english-heritage.org.uk/ResearchReportsPdfs/081_2009WEB.pdf [Accessed December 19, 2011].

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Written on January 15th, 2012 , Certificate Year Two, Field Trip

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