Newbold-on-Stour: 4,000 year old ceremonial and burial site (aka The Newbold Henge)

On one of our recent archaeological excavations, we uncovered some rare and exciting finds for Warwickshire

The site at Mansell Farm, Newbold-on-Stour was excavated on behalf of Lioncourt Homes in March. The exciting archaeological remains included an extremely important Neolithic hengiform monument and the buried remains of five people. Unusually for this region almost complete skeletons survived. The hengiform monument was originally an earthwork structure, a simple design consisting of a ditch that was dug in segments and a bank made up of the material thrown up from the ditch.

 

The bank was probably intended to close off the interior and create an arena for the ceremonies and rituals that took place.  This kind of monument usually dates from the later Neolithic (c. 2000 BC).The burials are intriguing as the monument may have survived in the landscape for hundreds, if not thousands of years before it was selected as the final burial place of the five individuals. It is hoped that scientific analyses of the remains may help us to establish the relationship between the people, the monument and the place.

The people had been buried carefully as none were placed on top of another and the three middle burials were facing west out from the henge, while the two outer ones were facing east, into the henge. This apparently deliberate arrangement suggests that the people being buried were a group of some kind, possibly family members and that the people burying them knew where the others were buried. Fragments of antler were found in the ditch which may have been deliberately placed there. If other artefacts were present they had not survived. Soil samples taken from around the burials will be inspected microscopically for charred plant remains, pollen and other environmental indicators such as ancient snail shells to attempt to build up a picture of the local environment at the time of the burials.

This is a tremendously exciting find with the potential for an amazing insight into Neolithic life through the study of our ancient ancestors.  Amazingly we were lucky enough to excavate four similar hengiform monuments in nearby Bidford-on-Avon which included the cremated remains of at least 11 people! The analysis of this site is nearing completion but together the two sites strongly suggest that more will be found across the region as development increases.

 

We hope to bring you updates on Warwickshire’s henges and the people who lived with them in the very near future.

 


We would sincerely like to thank John Spencer and his family and the team at Lioncourt Homes for being a pleasure to work with. Our excavation at Newbold-on-Stour was directed by Nigel Page MCIFA; who was ably assisted by Rob Jones, Lis Charles, Gary Crawford-Coupe, Mark Charles, Bekky Hillman, Kevin Wright and Jade Franklin.