Iron Age Ritual, a Hillfort and Evidence for a Minster at Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

Iron Age Ritual, a Hillfort and Evidence for a Minster at Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire

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The excavation of an area within the grounds of the Prebendal, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, adjacent to the parish church of St Mary's, showed that the town, which lies on a slight spur, is sited within a univallate Iron Age hillfort. Early-Middle Iron Age activity included the creation of a notable ritual area contaning the burials of four children and a young woman, most accompanied by animals; and a 'bone mass' containing animal bone, mostly disarticulated. Within a generation or so of the deposit's creation, within the first half of the 4th century BC, a univallate hillfort was constructed which did not continue into the later Iron Age. Early in the Middle Saxon period a palisade trench was dug into the hillfort's ditch, which was replaced by a ditch in the 8th century. Both palisade and ditch were almost certainly the boundaries of an early minster church and it is very likely that the former existence of the hillfort influenced its siting here. An unusual piece of Merovingian glass with a moulded cross on its base is likely to have been one of the minster's possessions. The extensive minster cemetery and later Saxon development of the town is briefly noted. A significant Saxo-Norman grain deposit which has been radiocarbon dated to the 11th-12th centuries is more

Product details

  • Hardback | 184 pages
  • 214 x 298 x 18mm | 961.61g
  • Oxbow Books
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • b/w and colour illustrations
  • 1842174843
  • 9781842174845
  • 2,353,369

Table of contents

1. Introduction to the excavation and to Aylesbury and its early prehistory The town and the excavation Early Prehistory Worked flint Beaker sherds 2. The Iron Age Hillfort Introduction The hillfort ditch The primary ditch and a human skull on its base An Iron Age recut of the primary ditch The problem of the accompanying rampart Subfossil molluscan fauna from a section through the ditch (Diane FitzMaurice) Finds from the hillfort ditch Iron Age pottery (Barbara Hurman) Pottery Fabrics 'Loomweight' Clay slingshot Slag Animal bone from the Iron Age ditch (Gillian Jones) Human bone from the recut ditch (C. Osborne) Charred plant remains from the ditch (Lisa Moffett) Summary of the hillfort defence 3. The Iron Age ritual deposit: introduction and description of human and animal remains Introduction The human remains from the ritual place (G. G. Jones and M. Farley, including identifications by C. Osborne) Method Human 1 Human 2 Human 3 Human 4 Human 5 Other human bones from the ritual deposit Summary of human bone from the ritual deposit The Animal Bone from the ritual deposit (G. G. Jones) Introduction Method Articulated groups associated with Human Burials 1 to 5 Animals associated with Human Burial 1 Animals associated with Human Burial 2 Animals associated with Human Burial 3 Animals probably associated with Human Burial 4 Animals associated with Human Burial 5 Discussion of the articulated animal remains associated with humans Description of the eastern bone mass The identification of sheep and goat Evidence for season, from the age at death of the sheep (goat) The size of the sheep Other species from the ritual deposit Pathology Bones from the upper layers of the ritual deposit and intrusive features Comparison with other sites An Iron Age fishbone (Andrew K. G. Jone) 4. Other finds from the ritual deposit and further environmental evidence The pottery from the ritual deposit (Barbara Hurman and Michael Farley) Illustrated pottery from the ritual deposit The cultural affinity of the pottery from the ritual deposit Other finds from the ritual deposit (Fig. 46) Antler combs Copper alloy Iron Flint Stone not native to the site Further environmental evidence from the ritual deposit Charred plant remains (Lisa Moffett) Wood charcoal macro-remains (Phil Austin) Introduction Methodology Results Discussion Taphonomy and fragment condition Wood use and resource management The contemporary vegetation Parasitological analysis 5. Radiocarbon dating of the skull from the hillfort ditch and human and animal bone from the ritual deposit (John Meadows, Michael Farley, Gillian Jones, Christopher Bronk Ramsey and Gordon Cook) Introduction Objectives Approach to sample selection Laboratory measurement Results Interpretation The Bayesian approach 6. Discussion of the ritual deposit The character of the ritual deposit Other human bone from the site and a radiocarbon determination Comparable discoveries in England What kind of 'ritual' took place at Aylesbury? 7. The hillfort and its region The interior of the hillfort Two pits adjacent to the ritual deposit and a post-hole Finds from the two pits a. Pottery b. Other finds c. Charcoal d. Animal bone (G. G. Jones) e. Fish bone (Andrew K. G. Jone) A post-hole (?) Residual Iron Age finds Pottery (Barbara Hurman) Quern The extent of the hillfort The hillfort interior The skull in the ditch, the date of construction of the fort and its period of use Aylesbury hillfort in its region: hillforts and settlements 8. Roman period evidence Introduction Pottery Roman building material (Simon Smithson) [with additions] Other finds Aylesbury and the surrounding area during the Roman period 9. Early Saxon Aylesbury and a reference in the Anglo -Saxon Chronicle Archaeology, place-names and documents Early Saxon finds 10. A Minster boundary and Middle Saxon Aylesbury The middle Saxon boundary: structure and finds (Figs 61-5) Palisade, post-holes and ditch Finds from the boundary From the post-holes From the palisade slot From the ditch a. The pottery (Barbara Hurman) b. Tile c. Loomweights d. The handled comb (Ian Riddler) e. The sceatta (Michael Metcalf) f. Iron g. Stone h. Glass i. Slag j. Worked flint The middle Saxon boundary: animal and environmental evidence Animal Bone (Gillian Jones) Introduction Method General description Cattle Sheep and goat Pig Other species Discussion Fish Bones (Andrew K. G. Jones) Coprolites The Charred Plant remains (Lisa Moffett) Mollusca (Diane Fitzmaurice) [adapted] Wood charcoal samples (Phil Austin) Introduction Results Taphonomy and fragment condition Wood and resource management The contemporary vegetation The date of the boundary 11. Other Early Mid -Saxon finds from the site, apart from those from the boundary ditch Pottery (Fig. 65, 8-14) Antler (Fig. 73, 1-4) (Ian Riddler) Loomweight (Fig. 73, 5) Iron and lead (Fig. 73, 6) The Glass (Figs 74, 2 and Fig. 75) (Jennifer Price) Description Discussion Stone 12. Aylesbury and other minsters The minster and its boundary Life at the Aylesbury minster The structure of an early Aylesbury church The minster cemetery The establishment of the minster: early politics, Birinus, St Osyth and Quarrendon The conversion of Buckinghamshire Tribes and clans Other early churches in Buckinghamshire 13. The Late Saxon period Saxo-Norman finds from the site The pottery A Saxo-Norman Grain Spread (Lisa Moffett) Crop plants Wild plants Discussion Radiocarbon dating of grain from a Saxo-Norman deposit (John Meadows, Michael Farley, Christopher Bronk Ramsey, and Gordon Cook) The later minster The town 14. Medieval and Post -Medieval us e of the sit e and an overview of the excavation Appendices 1. Catalogue of the human bone from the ritual deposit (C. Osborne with amendments by G. G. Jones) 2. Catalogue of the animal bone from the ritual deposit (G. G. Jones) 3. Catalogue of re-deposited human bone from the site, apart from the ritual deposit (C. Osborne) 4. The subfossil molluscan fauna from a ditch section (Diane FitzMaurice) 5. Report on the examination of some red-finished pottery (A. P. Middleton)show more