The area of Wyke Down, part of Cranborne Chase in Dorset, contains three sites Project Time will be focusing on; the Grooved Ware and Beaker pits at Fir Tree Field, the two pit ‘henges’, buildings and associated pits at Wyke Down, and the unique pit circle and shaft complex at Monkton-up-Wimborne.
Left: Wyke Down 1 and 2. (photo courtesy of Martin Green)
The Balfarg/Balbirnie complex
The Balfarg/Balbirnie complex is a monumental landscape located in Fife, and is made up of three main sites, the Balbirnie stone circle and cairn, the Balfarg Henge, and the Balfarg Riding School enclosure and associated features. At the time of excavation in the 1970s and 1980s, only charcoal could be radiocarbon dated, so Project Time is aiming to identify new samples, particularly cremated bone, from features including the Balfarg Riding School enclosure, Grooved Ware ‘structures’ and later ring ditches/cairns, to help build a more detailed chronology of this prehistoric complex.
Right (photo by Jim Bain / Balbirnie stone circle / CC BY-SA 2.0)
North Mains is located in Perth and Kinross, to the west of Perth. Excavations led by Gordon Barclay in the late 1970s uncovered a bank and ditch ‘henge’ monument surrounding a timber circle, and a series of associated cremation burials and inhumations, some of which included beautiful ceramic vessels (including those to the left). These excavations also investigated a large round barrow, which revealed a complex sequence of construction, which also included a series of cremation burials and inhumations. Project time is aiming to identify suitable samples from the burials at both sites to understand the chronology of the sites construction, the use of the site over time, and the character of mortuary practice.
Bryn Celli Ddu
Bryn Celli Ddu is a famous passage tomb on the island of Anglesey of the north Wales coast. As such it represents one of the few examples of monuments outside the concentrations on the Orkney Isles off the north coast of Scotland, and the famous examples in Co. Sligo and Co. Meath in Ireland. Passage tombs have common features including famous rock art panels and the solar alignments noted at Newgrange and Maes Howe. The landscape around Bryn Celli Ddu has been the subject of a public archaeology landscape research project led by Dr Ffion Reynolds (Cadw), and Dr Ben Edwards and Dr Seren Griffiths (Manchester Metropolitan University). This research has identified a number of important sites in the surrounding landscape, including a Grooved Ware pit circle, and at least one circular burial mound. This multiphase structure is located close to the passage tomb, and is what you can see under excavation here. It included two cists in the early stages of use, and the later deposition of urned cremation burials in collared urns. As such these sites span the traditional culture historic association from the ‘late neolithic’ Grooved Ware, through to the ‘chalcolithic’ and early bronze age’.
Left: Bryn Ceilli Ddu during excavation (photo courtesy of Adam Stanford/Aerial Cam)
The remains of three sub-circular structures were found at Balgatheran, Co. Louth, Ireland and were excavated by Cóilín Ó Drisceoil. Each structure had an internal four-post settings and an entrance porch that faced the southeast. Grooved Ware, lithics and fragments of stone axe-heads (one of porcellanite and one of dolerite) were found.
The layout of the structures resembles ceremonial timber circles such as Armalughey and Ballynahatty, and the artefact assemblages were also similar. But the Balgatheran structures were much smaller and two had evidence for a central hearth. Were these small ceremonial sites? Or settlement sites? Or a combination of both?
Left: Excavation of circular structures at Balgatheran (photo courtesy of Cóilín Ó Drisceoil)
Timber circles could be considered a distinctive monument-type for the period covered by Project TIME. Irish timber circles are particularly associated with the Boyne Valley and this one (right), from Lagavooren, in Co. Meath, Ireland, is from c. 7km to the east of Brú na Bóinne. Rich assemblages of Grooved Ware pottery and lithic artefacts were found during the excavations.
Right: The timber circle at Lagavooren (photo courtesy of IAC Archaeology)
Partially excavated remains of a double-ditched enclosure were discovered at Balregan, Co. Louth in Ireland. This included a stoney layer between the inner and outer ditches, representing the remains of a bank. This monument type is known as an embanked enclosure in Ireland.
Artefacts from the site included Impressed and Grooved Wares, with the Impressed Wares representing one of the largest assemblages of Impressed Wares recovered from an Irish site in recent years.
Left: Aerial view of the excavation at Balregan (photo courtesy of IAC Archaeology)