Mid Wales could have been home to a “Neolithic theme park” used for gatherings, religious rituals and feasts, archaeologists suggest.
|How the Walton Basin neolithic palisaded enclosure might have looked|
A dig at the Walton Basin in Radnorshire is lending weight to the theory that there may have been a Neolithic tribal centre based in the area.
The site has been dated back to between 3800 and 2300BC and shows remains of palisades, cursuses (lengths of bank) and enclosures that all bear some resemblance to monuments found at Stonehenge.
The Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust has been carrying out intermittent excavations on the site for close to 40 years.
The findings show that Wales is at least home to the remains of one of the largest neolithic timber constructions in the whole of Europe.
Buried in the soil are seven monuments that experts believe could have been the sites for tribal ceremonies that were held at certain times of the year.
Among the monuments is the Walton Neolithic palisaded enclosure made from a circular perimeter of 1100-1200 four-metre-high timber logs and a similar monumental Hindwell palisdaded enclosure that would have accommodated five London Olympic stadia within its foundation.
Bill Britnell, director of the Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust and part of the digging team at the Walton Basin, said he was stunned by the magnitude of the structures
“You look at the man power that will have gone into making them and it must have been massive because they are absolutely huge. You’ve got enormous communities of people from some kind of tribal gathering where thousands gathered to build these monuments,” he said.
“If we want to find out what people were doing in the past, the information is out there and it’s invaluable.
“It increases people’s awareness in the places they are living in and it’s interesting in terms of the changes humanity goes through.”
During the digs, pottery, flint tools and plant and food remains have all been found.
But in order to delve deeper, archaeologists must find a waterlogged area in the landscape that may well contain artifacts that have been preserved to a much greater extent.
Mr Britnell said the size of the archaeological sites means the project is unfinished and believes there could well be more to find.
He said: “There perhaps are deposits out there in the basin and if we find that it would produce an enormous amount of information.
“We will need to take stock of where we are and try and think of some of those big questions and find out how we can answer them.
“There are just so many fundamental questions to be asked about the past.”
Archaeologists in Wales have noted the similarities between sites like this and those in Stonehenge.
Mr Britnell said the basin could have been one of many places used as a neolithic meeting point by thousands of people and tribes from across the UK.
Its location on a heavily used path near to Radnor Forest and between the uplands of central Wales and the lowlands of the Midlands of England placed it in a prime spot for visits from nomadic travellers.
He said: “There has to be big gatherings of people throughout the year. It tells you something about society, that at certain times of year there was one big group of society gathering together. We just need to find out why they were gathering.
“It’s like discovering a whole new part of civilisation and it has changed our whole opinion in terms of what we thought neolithic Wales was like.
“What we’ve found here in Wales is not happening everywhere. We can say with certainty that there must have been an important tribal centre in Wales for many years.”
Full article: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/archaeological-dig-walton-basin-mid-2586816
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