Settlements on the southern British chalkland
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Settlements on the southern British chalkland book
Throughout the entire chalkland zone the basic structural unit appears to have been enclosure, frequently of sub-rectangular form, deﬁned in various ways by combinations of banks, ditches and palisades. At Shearplace Hill, Dorset (Figure 3.7), the settlement area is enclosed by a U-shaped ditch some 3 m wide, with an internal bank in which may once have been bedded a palisade or perhaps a thorn hedge. At Cock Hill, Sussex, on the other hand, the bank and palisade are external to a 2 m wide ditch. Another variant appears at New Barn Down, Sussex (Figure 3.7), and at Thorny Down, Wilts., where one side only is ditched, the other three being deﬁned by banks, which at New Barn Down supported a close-set palisade. In all these examples, internal settings of posts show that the earthworks enclosed circular huts, usually 6.0-7.5 m in diameter. There were at least two at New Barn Down, two or three at Shearplace Hill, ﬁve or more at Cock Hill and probably as many as nine at Thorny Down. Not all, of course, need have been in use at one time, since replacement and rebuilding were probably carried out periodically. The plan is clear at Shearplace Hill, however, where two deﬁnite houses and a possible third, enclosing a working area, seem to constitute a single contemporary unit, which would have been ideally suited to a social group of family or extended family size. The unenclosed settlement at Chalton, Hants, was of similar size, with one large hut, a smaller hut with a central hearth for cooking and two unroofed working areas. Here a tentative assessment of grain production, based on the capacities of the storage pits, supported the idea of a single family unit and indicated a total arable in the order of 6.5 ha.