Summary | Period 0-1 | Period 2 | Period 3 | Period 4-5
Plan of Saxon features | Plan of Medieval features | Plan of Site B
Stone wall | Clay packing behind wall | The relationship of the wall to the bank | Rear wall | Period 2B | Period 2C
The remains of the wall which replaced the turf revetment fronting the bank of period 1 was observed in all the trenches. There is clear evidence (see Period 3) that the wall of the whole defensive circuit had been deliberately razed to the ground in one operation. This is perhaps the principal reason that the surviving remains of the wall on both sides of the defences were so slight. On the south side a few of the lowest course of stones remained in situ at the rear of the wall - see section 1, section 2 and section 4 [1/2, 1/7, 1/28]. On the west side, the lower two courses of the wall, 1.2m wide at its lowest level, survived in places in Area 3 (though not on the line of section 7), where the stones were cemented with a soft off-white mortar [3/7, 3/10]. Both front and rear stones were found pitched inwards towards a depression along the centre of the wall [3/13]. This feature was probably the remains of the palisade trench of period 4 dug down the middle of the wall. In several places on the southern side the bottom front row of stones was set into a gully, probably dug to stabilise the front of the wall (see further discussion of this feature - which has in the past been interpreted as a period palisade trench - in Part 2) (see section 2, section 4 and section 5) [2/7]. In one place in Area 1 a circular depression  in a layer of mortar immediately in front of the wall could be interpreted as a small mortar-mixing pit [3/11].
The stones within the ditches (into which, it is argued below, the wall was deliberately thrown in period 3), together with those piled onto the berm, show that the wall was constructed largely of undressed rubble, mixed with a high percentage of small stones and mortar. There were a few larger stones up to 300 x 150mm in size with dressed faces, which must have formed its outer face. The stone types recovered from a section of the inner ditch in Area 1 (section 1) [1/3, 1/6, 1/5] showed it to have been constructed of nearly equal proportions (by estimated volume) of Coral Rag and Oolitic Limestone.
Further details of the construction of the wall can be inferred from the evidence of its destruction in the description of period 3.
On the south side of the defences, in Area 1, the lowest stones of the back of the wall were covered with a deposit of clean clay, which abutted up against the vertical cut made in the front revetment of the bank for the insertion of the wall (see below). This can be seen in particular in section 1, section 2 and section 4. This has been observed in other sections across the defences, and can best be interpreted as packing between the wall and the cut-back revetment, probably used as a filling between the cut-back turf revetment and the back of the wall. The clay packing is shown clearly in photos 1/10, 1/13, 1/15, 1/16 and 1/18. The presence of this packing was not, however, ubiquitous - it does not for instance appear in section 5, even though the cut-back face of the turf revetment was vertical at this point.
Where they survived at the front of the wall the second course of stones were in general set back from the front of the first leaving a plinth generally about 60mm in width [3/9]. Some inferences from the surviving deposits can be made about the form of the back of the wall. In the few instances where they had survived, in particular in the trenches across the south defences, the lowest two courses consisted of a foundation course, set into and against the cut-back turf revetment of the bank, with the second course extending further back into the old bank. This is clear in section 2 and section 4 [1/13, 2/7]. In these two cases, as well as in section 1, where the back few stones were in situ, the survival of the clay packing described above suggests that the rear face of the rest of the wall was then set some 200-300mm forward of the lowest course. During the process of building the wall, this would have left a shallow space between the cut-back revetment and the rear face of the wall, allowing access to it for its further construction upwards. After a few courses the clean clay was then packed against the gap so formed, probably to stabilise both the face of the wall and the old face of the bank against each other [1/10, 1/13, 1/14, 1/15, 1/16, 1/18].
Several observations have been given above from which it can be inferred that the wall was built as a secondary feature, and that it was constructed in the space formed by the cutting back of an original turf revetment to the clay bank. The presence of the vertical face cut into the front turf revetment of the bank [2/7, 1/23] is the main stratigraphical evidence which demonstrates that the wall is later than the primary defensive bank. It is necessary to stress this point in view of contrary interpretations of the same feature put forward by Radford (1972) - see Part 2. The evidence from the few surviving stones in situ shows that the wall had generally been built from the same level as the bank itself. However, in one place (section 4) the wall foundations had been laid onto a layer of soil similar to that of the turf revetment of the bank, but darker in colour and of a more gritty and more friable consistency than the buried soil underneath the bank. There are two possible interpretations for this: a) the wall at this point was built into a shelf cut into the former thickness of the front revetment of turf, or b) during the cutting back of the bank the soil from the former revetment was spread around in such a way that it formed a layer on which the wall was directly constructed. In either case, this evidence reinforces that already adduced for its later insertion into the front of the bank.
It is conceivable that the wall could have been a primary feature, with the 'turf revetment' at the front of the bank included to stabilise the bank during its construction. There are, however, several arguments against this. Firstly, if this were so the clay bank would have been built up against the back of the wall, obviating the need for a turf 'revetment' fronting the bank in the first place, as well as the extra labour of stripping the turf from the area of the bank, berms and ditches. Secondly, the presence of the turf revetment at the rear of the bank shows this to have had some structural function, which implies that its use at the front of the bank would also have had a functional aspect. Thirdly, the most reasonable explanation for the presence of the ubiquitous clay packing behind the wall is that this must have been introduced while the wall was being built in the space formed by the cut-back bank. It seems unlikely to have been packed behind the wall if the wall and bank were being built together.
Another element probably added to the defensive system during this phase was a wall added to the rear of the bank, possibly near the top. The purpose of this may well have been to revet a walkway at the top of the bank, and/or to contain the extra spoil derived from the cutting back of the front of the bank. However, the existence of this feature is inferred entirely from the spread of stones observed behind the bank in the 1975 excavations in the south-west corner of the bank, but also observed in many other parts of the defences. The lack of mortar in any of these deposits suggests that this wall would have been of dry stone construction. The fact that the bank had been so denuded means that no evidence has survived for the presence or absence of mortar spreads on the back of the bank, as is the case with the wall added to the top of the primary bank at Wareham.
Reassessment of the evidence for the existence of features of this period in earlier excavations at Cricklade.
Discussion of the historical context for this period.
In several places where the inner berm was excavated, in particular on the southern defences where the build-up of deposits was greater, the lowest deposit on the berm consisted of a layer of dirty earth and gravel with small Oolitic Limestone fragments and mortar flecks, 100-150mm thick. This appeared clearly in Areas 1  and 2 [526, 546] - especially section 4 [2/25]. This was stratified underneath the debris from the destruction of the wall (period 3A). It therefore seems best interpreted in part as a construction layer of the wall (period 2A), and in part as a layer which accumulated while the wall was in position.
Several of the sections also demonstrate that the edges of the inner and central ditches had in many places become considerably eroded before being filled with the debris from the wall. (This is shown more satisfactorily in the sections than in the photographs.) In trench 4 (section 4) the hollow caused by the erosion of the inner edge of the ditch was filled with 150-200mm of gravelly clay and small stones , before being covered with period 3A deposits . In trench 6 both the inner ditch and central ditch [2/32] had become considerably eroded by the time they were filled with period 3 deposits. In trench 7 the period 2B deposits [626, 623] filling both the inner ditch and the central ditch [3/2] were not entirely removed in the period 2C recutting of the ditches [608, 628]. This demonstrates that the ditches became eroded and filled with deposits over a relatively long period while the wall was standing, before being re-excavated in period 2C.
This period is marked by the re-excavation of the inner and central ditches, and is inferred from:
a) the probability that the ditches had become partly or completely filled with erosion products during period 2B, and
b) the fact that they were open and empty when filled with the stones derived from the destruction of the wall in period 3A.
The over-deepening noticeable in the inner ditch in trench 6 (Area 2)  (section 6) is likely to have been the result of this process. In the central ditch in trench 7 (Area 3) the recut of this period  was cut into the deposits  within the earlier ditch of period 2A  (section 7). This is clear stratigraphical evidence from which the recutting of this period can be inferred. As made clear above, in all cases the recutting took place after a considerable amount of erosion had taken place to the sides of the ditches. At the time when it was decided to recut these ditches, therefore, they are likely to have appeared as rather indistinct hollows, choked with weeds and brambles. They would not have served any defensive function for a long time.
Summary | Period 0-1 | Period 2 | Period 3 | Period 4-5
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Last updated: Mon Jul 7 2003