Causewayed enclosure
A causewayed enclosure is a type of large prehistoric earthwork
Earthworks (archaeology)
In archaeology, earthwork is a general term to describe artificial changes in land level. Earthworks are often known colloquially as 'lumps and bumps'. Earthworks can themselves be archaeological features or they can show features beneath the surface...

 common to the early Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 in Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. More than 100 examples are recorded in France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and 70 in England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, while further sites are known in Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

, Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 and Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...


The term "causewayed enclosure" is now preferred to the older term causewayed camp as it has been demonstrated that the sites did not necessarily serve as occupation sites.


Causewayed enclosures are often located on hilltop sites, encircled by one to four concentric ditch
A ditch is usually defined as a small to moderate depression created to channel water.In Anglo-Saxon, the word dïc already existed and was pronounced 'deek' in northern England and 'deetch' in the south. The origins of the word lie in digging a trench and forming the upcast soil into a bank...

es with an internal bank
Bank (geography)
A geographic bank has four definitions and applications:# Limnology: The shoreline of a pond, swamp, estuary, reservoir, or lake. The grade can vary from vertical to a shallow slope....

. In general enclosures located in lowland areas are larger than hilltop ones. Crossing the ditches at intervals are causeway
In modern usage, a causeway is a road or railway elevated, usually across a broad body of water or wetland.- Etymology :When first used, the word appeared in a form such as “causey way” making clear its derivation from the earlier form “causey”. This word seems to have come from the same source by...

s which give the monuments their names. It appears that the ditches were excavated in sections, leaving the wide causeways intact in between. They should not be confused with segmented, or causewayed ring ditch
Causewayed ring ditch
A causewayed ring ditch is a type of prehistoric monument.It comprises a roughly circular ditch, segmented by several causeways which cross it. Within the ditch is a central area used for inhumations and cremations, usually covered beneath a barrow...

es, which are smaller and are thought to relate only to funerary activity, or with hillforts, which appeared later and had a definite defensive function. With regard to defensive functionality, however, evidence of timber palisade
A palisade is a steel or wooden fence or wall of variable height, usually used as a defensive structure.- Typical construction :Typical construction consisted of small or mid sized tree trunks aligned vertically, with no spacing in between. The trunks were sharpened or pointed at the top, and were...

s has been found at some sites such as Hambledon Hill
Hambledon Hill
Hambledon Hill is a prehistoric hill fort in Dorset, England, situated in the Blackmore Vale five miles north of Blandford Forum. The hill is a Chalk outcrop, on the south western corner of Cranborne Chase, separated from the Dorset Downs by the River Stour....



Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

 evidence implies that the enclosures were visited occasionally by Neolithic groups rather than being permanently occupied. It is possible that they represent a transitional period in the Neolithic before hunter-gatherer
A hunter-gatherer or forage society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were...

 societies finally became fully settled. The presence of human remains in the banks and ditches of the enclosures has been seen as an attempt by the builders to connect their ancestors with the land and thus begin to anchor themselves to specific areas. Longitudinal sections
Archaeological section
In archaeology a section is a view in part of the archaeological sequence showing it in the vertical plane, as a cross section, and thereby illustrating its profile and stratigraphy. This may make it easier to view and interpret as it developed over time....

 excavated along the ditches by archaeologists suggest that the builders repeatedly redug the ditches and each time deliberately deposited pottery and human and animal bones, apparently as a regular ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

. Environmental archaeology
Environmental archaeology
Environmental archaeology is the study of the long-term relationship between humans and their environments. Various sub-disciplines are involved to document and interpret this relationship, including paleoethnobotany, zooarchaeology, geomorphology, palynology, geophysics, landscape archaeology,...

 suggests that the European landscape was in general heavily forested when the enclosures were built and that they were rare clearings in the woodland that were used for various social and economic activities.

In the 1970s the archaeologist Peter Drewett suggested seven possible functions for the sites:
  • Settlement
    A town is a human settlement larger than a village but smaller than a city. The size a settlement must be in order to be called a "town" varies considerably in different parts of the world, so that, for example, many American "small towns" seem to British people to be no more than villages, while...

  • Defence
    Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

  • Cattle
    Cattle are the most common type of large domesticated ungulates. They are a prominent modern member of the subfamily Bovinae, are the most widespread species of the genus Bos, and are most commonly classified collectively as Bos primigenius...

     compounds or kraal
    Kraal is an Afrikaans and Dutch word for an enclosure for cattle or other livestock, located within an African settlement or village surrounded by a palisade, mud wall, or other fencing, roughly circular in form.In the Dutch language a kraal is a term derived from the Portuguese word , cognate...

  • Trade
    Trade is the transfer of ownership of goods and services from one person or entity to another. Trade is sometimes loosely called commerce or financial transaction or barter. A network that allows trade is called a market. The original form of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and...

  • Communal meeting places for feast
    A meal is an instance of eating, specifically one that takes place at a specific time and includes specific, prepared food.Meals occur primarily at homes, restaurants, and cafeterias, but may occur anywhere. Regular meals occur on a daily basis, typically several times a day...

    ing and other social activities
  • Cult
    The word cult in current popular usage usually refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre. The word originally denoted a system of ritual practices...

    A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

  • Burial
    Burial is the act of placing a person or object into the ground. This is accomplished by excavating a pit or trench, placing an object in it, and covering it over.-History:...


Other interpretations have seen the causeways as symbolic of multi-directional access to the site by scattered communities, the enclosures as funerary centres for excarnation
In archaeology and anthropology, the term, excarnation , refers to the burial practice of removing the flesh and organs of the dead, leaving only the bones....

 or the construction of the site being a communal act of creation by a fragmented society. Some enclosures are better situated for one activity than another and it is unlikely that they served any one purpose.

Animal remains (especially cattle bone), domestic waste and pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

 have been found at the sites. But there has been limited evidence of any structures. In some locations, such as Windmill Hill
Windmill Hill
Windmill Hill is a Neolithic causewayed enclosure in the English county of Wiltshire, situated around 1 mile north west of Avebury. It is the largest example of its type in the British Isles enclosing an area of 85,000 square metres...

, evidence of human occupation predates the enclosure. Generally, it appears that the ditches were permitted to silt up, even while the camps were in use, and then re-excavated episodically. It is unlikely that they had a strong defensive purpose. The earthworks may have been designed to keep out wild animals rather than people. The sequential addition of second, third and fourth circuits of banks and ditches may have come about through growing populations adding to the significance of their peoples' monument over time. In some cases, they appear to have evolved into more permanent settlements.

Most causewayed enclosures have been plough
The plough or plow is a tool used in farming for initial cultivation of soil in preparation for sowing seed or planting. It has been a basic instrument for most of recorded history, and represents one of the major advances in agriculture...

ed away in the intervening millennia and are recognized through aerial archaeology
Aerial archaeology
Aerial archaeology is the study of archaeological remains by examining them from altitude.The advantages of gaining a good aerial view of the ground had been long appreciated by archaeologists as a high viewpoint permits a better appreciation of fine details and their relationships within the wider...

. The first were constructed in the fifth millennium BC and by the early third millennium BC; notable regional variations occur in their construction. French examples begin to demonstrate elaborate horn-shaped entrances which are interpreted as being designed to impress from afar rather than serve any practical purpose.

Aubrey Burl
Aubrey Burl
Harry Aubrey Woodruff Burl MA, DLitt, PhD, FSA, HonFSA Scot is a British archaeologist most well known for his studies into megalithic monuments and the nature of prehistoric rituals associated with them. Prior to retirement he was Principal Lecturer in Archaeology, Hull College, East Riding of...

 considers that building of causewayed enclosures decayed by 3000 BC and was replaced by more localised types of earthen work monuments. In Britain, such replacements include Stonehenge I, Flagstones
Flagstones is a late Neolithic interrupted ditch enclosure in the English county of Dorset. The enclosure is formed by a ring of pits dug into the chalk bedrock, with 'causeways' between the pits. Half of the enclosure was discovered beneath the site of the demolished Flagstones House in advance...

, Duggleby Howe
Duggleby Howe
Duggleby Howe is one of thelargest round barrows in Britain, located on thesouthern side of the Great Wold Valley in the district of Ryedale, and isone of four such monuments in this area, known collectively as the...

 and Ring of Bookan, and the later henge
There are three related types of Neolithic earthwork which are all sometimes loosely called henges. The essential characteristic of all three types is that they feature a ring bank and ditch but with the ditch inside the bank rather than outside...



  • Whitehawk Camp
    Whitehawk Camp
    Whitehawk Camp is one of the earliest signs of human habitation in Brighton and Hove, Sussex, England. It is the remains of a Neolithic causewayed camp inhabited sometime around 2700 BCE and is a scheduled ancient monument...

  • Robin Hood's Ball
    Robin Hood's Ball
    Robin Hood’s Ball is a Neolithic causewayed enclosure located on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, England. It is approximately 5 miles from the town of Amesbury, and 2.5 miles from Stonehenge.-Etymology:...

     near Stonehenge
    Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Amesbury and north of Salisbury. One of the most famous sites in the world, Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks...

  • Hambledon Hill
    Hambledon Hill
    Hambledon Hill is a prehistoric hill fort in Dorset, England, situated in the Blackmore Vale five miles north of Blandford Forum. The hill is a Chalk outcrop, on the south western corner of Cranborne Chase, separated from the Dorset Downs by the River Stour....

  • Windmill Hill
    Windmill Hill
    Windmill Hill is a Neolithic causewayed enclosure in the English county of Wiltshire, situated around 1 mile north west of Avebury. It is the largest example of its type in the British Isles enclosing an area of 85,000 square metres...

     near Avebury
    Avebury is a Neolithic henge monument containing three stone circles which is located around the village of Avebury in Wiltshire, south west England. Unique amongst megalithic monuments, Avebury contains the largest stone circle in Europe, and is one of the best known prehistoric sites in Britain...

  • Hembury
    Hembury is a Neolithic causewayed enclosure near Honiton in Devon. It dates from the late fifth and early fourth millennia BC onwards to the Roman Invasion. The fort is situated on a promontory to the North of and overlooking the River Otter Valley at approx 178 Metres above Sea Level.It has given...

  • Coombe Hill
    Coombe Hill, East Sussex
    Coombe Hill or Combe Hill is the name of a hill near Jevington in the English county of East Sussex. It is the site of a Neolithic causewayed enclosure and much later archaeological evidence....

  • Rams Hill (on the Berkshire Downs)
  • Crickley Hill near Cheltenham
    Cheltenham , also known as Cheltenham Spa, is a large spa town and borough in Gloucestershire, on the edge of the Cotswolds in the South-West region of England. It is the home of the flagship race of British steeplechase horse racing, the Gold Cup, the main event of the Cheltenham Festival held...

  • Some tor enclosure
    Tor enclosure
    A tor enclosure is a prehistoric monument found in the southwestern part of the Great Britain. They are large hilltop or hillslope enclosures situated close to natural rock outcrops. They are surrounded by one or more circuits of stone-built walls...

    s such as that at Carn Brea
    Carn Brea
    Carn Brea is a civil parish and hilltop site in Cornwall, United Kingdom. The hilltop site is situated approximately one mile southwest of Redruth.-Neolithic settlement:...

     are believed to have served a similar purpose in south western Britain.


  • Champ Durand
  • La Coterelle
  • Diconche
  • Chez Reine near Semussac
    Semussac is a commune in the Charente-Maritime department in southwestern France.-Population:-References:*...

  • La Mastine


  • Donegore
    Donegore is the name of a hill, a townland, a small cluster of residences, and a civil parish in the barony of Upper Antrim, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Donegore lies approximately 5 miles east of Antrim town. The largest settlement in the parish is the village of Parkgate...

  • Magheraboy
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