Thursday, 10 October 2013

Ham Hill - heads you lose

Further to our Ham Hill visit (see below) the excavation by Cambridge and Cardiff universities has come to a close. One of the more unusual finds has been a row of human heads and other remains showing cutmarks indicating defleshing.

First indications are showing that the hill was already settled in the early Neolithic, with pits dating from 4000-3000BC and a network of fields from the the middle Bronze Age of c.1500BC. This must mean that the hill was seen as a good place to live and grow crops well before the hillfort was constructed.

By the Late Bronze Age or very Early Iron Age (c.800BC) massive earth ramparts were being thrown up 3-4m high which were encased by stone c.300BC. The area of the excavation was focused on a large enclosure nearly 100m long, but with little evidence of activity within it. It did surround a hollow and in the north-east corner six human heads were found laid in a line in the ditch about 1m apart. The remains of neck bones indicate that they were buried as complete heads and not defleshed skulls. With other human remains being found here it is likely that this was not a settlement but a ritual space. This further underlines the theory that hillforts were sacred spaces and not just for defense.

It is sure that more insights into this largest of hillforts will be published in the near future.

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