Condicote Village Website

The Henge

Have you ever wondered why a semicircular corner of the field by the Village Hall is never ploughed up? It is half of a large ancient earthwork dating from 1800 BC whose other edge runs round the back of Tally Ho! and the Burroughs's home. The road passes through the middle of it. Though on the surface you can only make out a slight circular ridge and dip, on maps or from the air the saucer shape shows clearly, and a century ago the sides were still too steep to plough. Excavations in 1956 and 1977 revealed below the surface a flat bottomed circular trench inside the ramparts, cut 6 inches deep into the solid rock, (by people using only bone and stone tools) and another trench outside the ramparts. Time has filled these in, but in its day it must have been very impressive.

 

What was it for? From the types of pollen and snail shells underground we know that Condicote was set in woodland then, and it is possible there were wooden structure(s) on it. The ditch inside the wall doesn't seem to make sense if it was for defence purposes. The Swell-Condicote area is very rich in burial mounds (long and round barrows) of roughly the same period and it is thought the henge might have been a ceremonial centre for the area. Condicote Henge is the only one of its kind in Gloucestershire.

 

It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, one of several thousand sites of national importance covered by the 1979 Ancient Monuments Act. This makes it a criminal offence punishable by fine or imprisonment to damage or deface it or to use a metal detector there (fine £200). Actually these people used little, if any, metal, but they were engineering supermen in working, and transporting, stone - the same Neolithic 'Beaker' people that built part of Stonehenge which also has a ring-ditch like ours. (The great trilithons at Stonehenge have mortice-and-tenon joints to hold their lintels on).

 

One day our henge may reveal more of its secrets, but meanwhile when you go to Bonfire Night or other village functions, you may like to remember that people were probably doing much the same thing on almost the same spot 4,000 years ago.

(Courtesy of Caroline Ungoed-Thomas)