West Kennett Farm palisaded enclosures


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
East Kennett
National Grid Reference:
SU 10908 68107, SU 11078 67876, SU 11114 68267

Reasons for Designation

A small number of areas in southern England appear to have acted as foci for ceremonial and ritual activity during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age periods. Two of the best known and earliest recognised, with references in the 17th century, are around Avebury and Stonehenge, now jointly designated as a World Heritage Site. In the Avebury area, the henge monument itself, the West Kennet Avenue, the Sanctuary, West Kennet long barrow, Windmill Hill causewayed enclosure and the enigmatic Silbury Hill are well-known. Whilst the other Neolithic long barrows, the many Bronze Age round barrows and other associated sites are less well-known, together they define one of the richest and most varied areas of Neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial and ritual monuments in the country.

The West Kennett Farm monuments belong to a class of Late Neolithic palisaded enclosures, known examples of which are very rare. Archaeological surveys and part excavations have shown that the monument contains extensive archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, function and the landscape in which it was built. The monument forms an integral part of Avebury's prehistoric landscape. It is broadly contemporary with nearby monuments including the Avenue, the Sanctuary, Avebury henge and Silbury Hill. Material suitable for dating has been recovered from these and other monuments including Avebury, allowing a detailed picture to emerge of the chronology of major monument building in the area.


The monument, which falls into three separate areas, includes the recorded extent of two Late Neolithic palisaded enclosures, a linear radial ditch and a small, circular, double-ditched enclosure, all situated in the Kennet Valley at West Kennett Farm. The north east enclosure lies within 150m of the West Kennett Avenue which leads from the Avebury henge to the henge known as `the Sanctuary', 750m to the east. Although no longer visible at ground level, the monument is known from aerial photographs, part excavations and geophysical survey to survive buried below the modern ground level. Of the two palisaded enclosures, the larger is to the north east, and the smaller to the south west. The north east enclosure (known as enclosure 1) has a pair of concentric ditches which are cut by the present line of the River Kennet, believed to have been much smaller in the Neolithic period than it appears today. The outer ditch varies in width from 1.5m to 1.7m and where excavated was up to 3m deep. Its inner edge was near vertical, while its outer edge was more gently sloped. This would probably have helped in the insertion of the 30cm-40cm diameter wooden posts which were set up in sockets 0.5m lower than the base of the ditch. These were close-set with around five posts for every 3m of ditch. Excavation shows that these posts were held in place by sarsen boulders and packed chalk which was back filled into the ditch soon after it was opened. The inner ditch was of similar construction and measured up to 1.9m wide and 2.7m deep. Pottery from this ditch was of the decorated `grooved ware' type. Between the ditches, limited excavations revealed a 0.10cm-0.15m thick layer of packed chalk forming a surface at least 10m across. This surface contained a variety of animal bone and antler, which was particularly concentrated in an area 1m by 3m across, as well as sherds of `grooved ware' pottery. The area enclosed by these ditches is believed to be roughly circular, measuring approximately 275m in diameter. However, the northern half of this monument is not fully recorded and its north west quadrant cannot be accurately plotted at present. Enclosure 2, situated 10m to the south east of enclosure 1 and entirely south of the present line of the River Kennet, is roughly oval and is aligned WNW- ESE, with a long axis of approximately 350m and 208m across. It has a single ditch which measures from 1.4m to 3m wide and, where excavated, up to 2.6m deep. The posts in this ditch were larger, measuring from 0.5m to 0.8m in diameter. Internally, aerial photographs show a series of ditches and other features including a number of concentric circular features up to 50m in diameter. These are particularly concentrated at the eastern end of the enclosure, close to enclosure 1. Running south east from the south east side of enclosure 2 is a linear ditch about 0.9m wide and 1m deep. This contained posts similar to those in the curved ditches around the enclosures and can be traced for 80m south east on aerial photographs. There is then a gap before the ditch continues for about a further 80m up to a double-ditched concentric enclosure with an outer diameter of approximately 48m. These ditches contain a series of closely spaced posts up to 0.5m in diameter and cut into the natural chalk up to 1m deep. The centre of the enclosure appears, from the evidence of geophysical survey, to contain a concentration of material or a pit. The enclosure is similar in size to the Sanctuary. Excluded from the scheduling are all above ground buildings including the Grade II Listed barns, post and wire boundary fences, road and track surfaces, below ground services and their trenches, although the ground beneath all these features is included in the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


1:2500, RCHM(E), Cropmark Survey West Kennet Farm, (1992)
Title: Ordnance Survey 1:10000 Series Source Date: 1980 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: SU 16 NW
Whittle, A, Excavations at West Kennet Farm Near Avebury, 1990, preliminary report
Whittle, A, Excavations at West Kennet Farm Near Avebury, 1990, preliminary report
Whittle, A, Excavations at West Kennet Near Avebury, 1990, Preliminary report
Whittle, A, Excavations at West Kennet Near Avebury, 1990, Preliminary report
Whittle, A, Excavations at West Kennet Near Avebury, 1990, Preliminary report
Whittle, A, Excavations at West Kennet Near Avebury, 1990, Preliminary report


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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