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Site name Dorchester-on-Thames, Site II
Site number 142
Burial codes 5005 5009 5021 5024 5025 5028 5030 5035 5036 5041 5047 5051 5053 5065 5075 5084 5093 5104 5111 5122 5123 5127 5129 5131 5143 5152 5153 5162 5181
3500bc - 2500bc Three approximately concentric causewayed ditches c100m north east of Dorchester I, Site 138. Ditch I was 9 very irregular separate pits disposed in a circle c9m in diameter. No trace of a bank survived. Ditch II was composed of 8 segments of varying length (1.8-13.5m) separated by narrow causeways. It followed the line of ditch I closely, encroaching upon its outer margin at some points. There was no bank surviving. Ditch III was more regular, of 12 segments (3-5.6m) each of two adjacent conjoined pits, with no bank surviving. Each ditch had in its filling to a greater or lesser extent a black material chiefly occurring in large compact masses, on the floor in ditch I, and in the middle layers in the other two. It appeared to have been burnt, and was not silting.

There were 19 deposits of cremated bones in the ditches, and two more cremations in the flat central area. In the more central of the two cremations, finds included a bone pin, a macehead, a flint fabricator, and burnt flint flakes. These appeared to be contemporaneous with finds in Dorchester I (Site 138). There was a small Peterborough sherd and leaf arrow head fragments in the secondary fill of ditch III.

Barring the two central cremations, the rest were distributed around the inner edge of the ditch III from the north west point round southwards to the north east, possibly within the (destroyed) inner bank of ditch III. 16 of the cremations were contained in simple funnel shaped holes cut into the fillings of ditches I and II, and into the solid gravel between and surrounding them. These pits varied in size between 10cm and 1m deep, but averaged in diameter 0.3m. Three further cremations were on the floor of an egg shaped pit 1.2m deep x 1.8-1.2, in diameter cut mainly through the floor of segment 6 of ditch I, and partly into the filling of ditch II. There was a gravelly soil fill. The volume of bone fragments varied greatly. One deposit lay on a few fragments of oak charcoal, the others were free from wood ash. All were compact as if enclosed at burial in a leather or cloth bag. Several of the deposits included artefacts: No 13 bone pin, No 17 bone pin and a fabricator, No 19 a bone pin, prismatic flint knife, and fragments of another, and No 21 a bone pin, fabricator fragments, unworked flake, and a macehead.

Near the centre of the area enclosed by the ditches were 4 pits. Pit A was 0.85m in diameter x 15cm deep, and contained a thin compact layer of cremated bones in the centre without grave goods. Pit B was oval, 1m x 0.7m x 22cm deep, and contained a cremation in a compact mass towards the south side, accompanied by a stone mace head, a flake, plano-convex knife and fabricator of flint, and a long bone pin, all fire damaged. Pit C was an annex to B and contained soil. Pit D was roughly circular and c2.1m in diameter x 0.65m deep, and was filled with brown soil much of which had been reddened by fire, mixed with fragments of charcoal and cremated bone, and streaks of apparent powdery grey wood ash. In the upper filling was part of the foot of a flat-bottomed vessel of plain fabric, and lower down were two deposits of animal bones, unburnt, and including the articulated leg of an animal the size of a small calf at the south, and at the north a miscellaneous collection of small bones piled one on another in a heap. There were waxy streaks of organic matter that may have represented decayed animal flesh in situ.

The cremations were of 18 adults (3 male, 3 female, 12 unknown), 1-2 children of sex unknown, and at least three others unidentifiable. All bones were well burned and broken, and the surviving extremity bones suggest the bodies were burnt fleshed.

[Order suggested by Whittle et al 1992: Dorchester Site VIII, 1, III, XI, II, I, IV, V, VI, 2, 3, XIV, XII, XIII, 4, VII, IX].
Remains/Period Y5
County Oxfordshire
Region SE
National grid square SU
X coordinate 569
Y coordinate 957
Bibliographic source Atkinson 1951a, \\\\nAtkinson, Piggott and Sanders 1951, Kinnes 1979, Whittle, Atkinson, Chambers and Thomas 1992


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Last updated: Tues Aug 10 2004