The town of Cricklade is one of the most regular examples of the class of Saxon urban fortresses, created as part of a fort-system in the late 9th century, which are included in the Burghal Hidage List. Its defences are relatively well preserved, and show particularly good evidence of rectilinear planning. It has been the subject of detailed archaeological and historical research over the past 55 years, and its defences at least can lay claim to being the most systematically explored late Saxon fortress in England.
Prior to housing development, two excavations were carried out at Cricklade in 1975: Site A, an area within the north-west quarter of the town, which provided evidence of occupation throughout the Roman period; and Site B, on the south-west corner of the late Saxon defences, in which several trenches as well as larger areas across the line of the defences were excavated.
A sequence of several successive phases of construction, refurbishment, destruction and rebuilding of the defences from the late 9th century into the medieval period was found. The interpretation of this sequence of phases differs from that put forward based on earlier excavations on the defences since 1948 (excavations which are also reassessed here).
Accompanied by interactive plans and sections, this article presents the results of the excavations, followed by an examination of the archaeological and historical development of the defensive sequence and early development of the town.
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* Jeremy Haslam
4 Clifton Road
Berks RG14 5JT
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Last updated: Tue Jun 24 2003