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Monument Name Orsett-Causewayed Enclosure
SMR Number 5162
Summary Within the southern half of the inner circuit of the neolithic causewayed enclosure 4, possibly 5 ring ditches were recognised as cropmarks.
Media
Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Thurrock
Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Thurrock
Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Thurrock
Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Thurrock
Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Thurrock
Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Thurrock
Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Thurrock
Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Thurrock
Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Thurrock
Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Thurrock
Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Thurrock
Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Thurrock
Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Thurrock
Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Thurrock
Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Thurrock
Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Thurrock
Associated Media
None Available
Description Within the southern half of the inner circuit of the neolithic causewayed enclosure 4, possibly 5 ring ditches were recognised as cropmarks. Central pits were visible within 3 of them. It was observed that the ring ditches were not like normal ring ditches from ploughed out barrows, their diameters being rather small. In 1975 during trial excavation of the neolithic enclosure 3 of the ring ditches were excavated. They proved to be of Saxon date. Graves were located in 2 ring ditches, only part of the third's ditch being dug. The graves were centrally situated, aligned east-west, contained traces of skeletons with the stain left by wooden coffins. Metalwork was found. Of the finds, less than 10 sherds of Anglo-Saxon pottery were found . <1> The southern ring ditch burial contained a small knife, the northern one an iron sword in poor condition. The ring ditches appeared to belong to Hogarth's group 116, probably dating to the late 7th-early 8th centuries. They can be paralleled in Saxon cemeteries in north east Kent. No post sockets were recognised but the ring ditches probably represent timber mausolea. The northern ring ditch had an east entrance, as the 2 unexcavated examples. The entrance of the southern ring ditch was obscured by a later ditch. <2> In profile the ring ditches were 1-2m wide, the maximum surviving depth was 0.35m below the ploughsoil. One sherd of Saxon pottery was found in each ring ditch. Finds were mainly prehistoric. Each of the 2 graves excavated had the silhouette of a body within a wooden coffin. No bones were found but objects had been buried with the bodies. Traces of textiles were preserved in corrosion from the iro objects. Some post holes could have been Saxon though no coherent plans could be discerned. 2 post holes could have been marker posts for the grave pits. The northern ring ditch burial's grave goods had apparently been placed under the body in the left pelvic area, on the bottom of the coffin. It seems that they had originally been contained in a textile bag or wrapping. 2 copper alloy objects, a ring-shaped collar and a flat curved strip (upper surface incised with lozenge pattern and inlaid with traces of enamel) had probably once been attached to a hanging bowl, probably the same one. A Kimmeridge shale or lignite bead with traces of an iron fitting in the central hole was an unusual find, also. Iron objects included rings and chatelaine fragments, an iron guard mount, probably from a knife or seax rather than a sword. The latter was out of context in a female grave and many of the other finds seemed divorced from their original contexts. They are suggested as forming a magical collection, possibly placed in the grave surreptitiously. A late date is suggested, late 7th-early 8th centuries, when it would be unusual to see jewelry in a Christian grave, possibly explaining their apparently clandestine burial. The iron objects had textile traces replaced on them. Some possibly came from a fine cloth tunic or light cloak, others from a wrapping or bag around the objects. The southern ring ditch burial contained an iron knife blade, missing its tang and tip, an iron fragment-possibly part of the knife's tang and part of an 'U'-shaped iron binding. They were too fragmentary to date closely. The relationship to the northern burial suggests a similar date. A small amount of bone came from Saxon-Medieval contexts and a fragment of oyster shell. One potsherd had a medieval rim form but a late Saxon fabric type, eg St Neots. The Orsett burials were the first Saxon ring ditch burials to be recognised in Essex. There was no evidence for nearby Saxon settlement. The site was probably chosen because of its commanding view. Among various possibilities for the form of the burial structures, a simple dump mound seemed most likely. Possibly the place name of the adjacent Seaborough Hall (demolished) is derived from 'seven barrows'. Probably the Orsett ring ditches formed a small group of 4 or 5 burials, ditch-surrounded, covered by substantial mounds and not part of a large cemetery containing unenclosed graves. As such the Orsett ring ditches form one of only a few confirmed Saxon barrow groups from East Anglia. <3> <5> Finds in Thurrock Museum. <4> For AP and photo refs, see 5158. AP <6> Additional ref <8>. Site Assessment = See 515851
Monument Type(s) ROUND BARROW (Dated 410AD to 1065AD)
ROUND BARROW (Dated 410AD to 1065AD)
INHUMATION (Dated 410AD to 1065AD)
INHUMATION (Dated 410AD to 1065AD)
COFFIN (Dated 410AD to 1065AD)
COFFIN (Dated 410AD to 1065AD)
POST HOLE (Dated 410AD to 1065AD)
POST HOLE (Dated 410AD to 1065AD)
RING DITCH (Dated 410AD to 1065AD)
RING DITCH (Dated 410AD to 1065AD)
Monument Class(es) CONJECTURAL EVIDENCE
CROPMARK
SHALE
SUB SURFACE DEPOSIT
Period 410AD to 1065AD Early Medieval
Status Scheduled Monument
Administration Area THURROCK, ESSEX
National Grid Reference Square: TQ68SE
Ref: 653806
Finds SHALE BEAD (Dated 600AD To 800AD)

IRON CHATELAINE (Dated 600AD To 800AD)

BRONZE HANGING BOWL (Dated 600AD To 800AD)

IRON KNIFE (Dated 600AD To 800AD)

SHELL OYSTER SHELL (Dated 410AD To 1065AD)

IRON RING (Dated 600AD To 800AD)

IRON SWORD (Dated 600AD To 800AD)

POTTERY VESSEL (Dated 600AD To 800AD)

Events PART EXCAV by Hedges, JD and Buckley, DG, 1975

PART EXCAV by Hedges, JD and Buckley, DG, 1975

East Tilbury Thames Gateway, Area Centred TQ6779

East Tilbury Thames Gateway, Area Centred TQ6779

Sources Desc Text : East Tilbury Thames Gateway, Area Centred TQ6779, Essex (Palmer, Rog and Bacilieri, Cinzia) Dated : 2004

Desc Text : Orsett Caysewayed Enclosure- additional source sheet (Waller, C) Dated : 1999

Desc Text : The North Thames Gas Pipeline (Bennett, Alison) Dated : 1988

<1> Excavation report : Excavations at a Neolithic Causewayed Enclosure, Orsett, Essex, 1975 (Hedges, JD and Buckley, DG) Vol 44, p222, 255, 276, 290 Dated : 1978

<2> Excavation report : Orsett Camp Excavations (TQ 651805) (Hedges, John D) No 19, pp40-44 Dated : 1975

<3> Excavation report : Anglo-Saxon Burials and Later Features Excavated at Orsett, Essex, 1975 (Hedges, JD and Buckley, DG) Vol 29, pp1-24 Dated : 1985

<4> Artifact : ARTEFACT Thurrock Mus (Thurrock Museum) Acc No 1731 Dated : unknown

<5> Desc Text : Placenames ofEssex (Reaney, PH) p164 Dated : 1935

<6> Aerial Photo : Orsett, South of A13, west of A128 (Tyler, Sue) Dated : 1986

<7> Photograph : unknown (unknown) Dated : unknown

<8> Desc Text : Orsett Camp Preservation Report (Buckley, D, Hedges, J and Wilkinson, T) Dated : 1975