Marden Henge, the largest henge enclosure in Britain, is situated within the Vale of Pewsey between the World Heritage Sites of Avebury and Stonehenge. Antiquarian accounts of the site describe a huge mound within the enclosure called Hatfield Barrow, which collapsed after excavation in the early 19th century. The henge and surrounding area are being investigated through aerial, geophysical, and field survey.
Excavations are planned for 2010.
With the exception of the north-eastern part of the site which is covered with trees, the aerial photographs provide a good view of the henge. Cropmarks of the remains of Hatfield Barrow can be seen, as can part of the internal ditch not visible from the ground.
The aerial photographs also provide a good view of a second earthwork towards the south-west corner of the enclosure. This consists of a raised area with a broad ditch with outer bank.
The earliest aerial photographs show the site before houses were built within the south-west corner of the henge. These photos do not show any evidence that there was a bank and ditch where the houses now stand and instead it appears that the River Avon defined the remainder of the enclosure.
The Vale of Pewsey
The majority of sites identified from the air are in the south and east of the vale. There are a number of other prehistoric sites that can be seen as cropmarks many of which, like the henge, are positioned close to the river. At Charlton there are 16 closely spaced ring ditches, most of which are within the flood plain and are likely to have held water at least for some of the year.
Also common along much of the riverside and possibly obscuring earlier sites are the earthworks of post-medieval water meadows. These are a series of channels dug to allow the meadows to be flooded and then drained of water. This flooding encouraged early grass growth at the start of the year and provided good hay harvests for the flocks in winter.
During this period an important role of these flocks was to manure the fields. Evidence of arable farming can be seen in the medieval terraces known as strip lynchets on the slopes of the vale, and by the remains of plough headlands within the vale.
The images used on this page are copyright English Heritage unless specified otherwise. For further details of any photographs or other images and for copies of these, or the plans and reports related to the project please contact the English Heritage Archive.
For further information on a project or any other aspect of the work of the Aerial Survey team please contact us via email using the link above.