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Dr Frances Healy  -  F.S.A., F.S.A. Scot.


Roger Mercer and Frances Healy (in press, 2007) Hambledon Hill, Dorset, England. Excavation and Survey of a Neolithic Monument Complex and its Surrounding Landscape. English Heritage Archaeological Reports.

Abstract - Hambledon was the site of an exceptionally large and diverse complex of earlier Neolithic earthworks, including two causewayed enclosures, two long barrows and several outworks, some of them defensive. It seems to have been the main focus of earlier Neolithic activity in the surrounding area, in cluding Cranborne Chase.

The abundant cultural material preserved in its ditches and pits provides information about numerous aspects of contemporary society, among them conflict, feasting, the treatment of the human corpse, exchange, stock management and cereal cultivation. The distinct depositional signatures of various parts of the complex reflect their diverse use. The scale and manner of individual episodes of construction hint at the levels of organisation and co-ordination obtaining in contemporary society. .

Use of the complex and the construction of its various elements were episodic and intermittent, spread over 300–400 years, and did not entail lasting settlement. Stone axeheads from remote sources were brought to the site, and more abundant stone grinding equipment and pottery from adjacent regions may point to the areas from which people came to the hill. If so, it had important links with territories to the west, north-west and south, in other words with land off the Wessex Chalk, at the edge of which the complex lies.

A complementary relationship with Cranborne Chase to the east is indicated by a fairly abrupt diminution of activity on the hill in the late fourth millennium, when the massive Dorset cursus and several smaller monuments were built in the Chase.

Renewed activity on the hill in the late third and early second millennia was a prelude to occupation in the mid to late second millennium, which was followed by the construction of a hillfort on the northern spur from the early first millennium. Late Iron Age and Romano-British activity may reflect the proximity of contemporary fortifications on Hod Hill immediately to the south. A small pagan Saxon cemetery may relate to settlement in the Iwerne valley which it overlooks.


Jan Harding and Frances Healy (in press, 2007) The Raunds Area Project. A Neolithic and Bronze Age Landscape in Northamptonshire. English Heritage Archaeological Reports.

Abstract - The settlement record of 3.5 km of the floor of the Nene valley at Raunds begins with a slight human presence in the early Holocene, which became progressively more marked. By around 5,000 cal BC, one spot, at the confluence of the Nene and a tributary, had long been a regular stopping-place.

Soon after 4000 cal BC Neolithic artefacts began to be discarded at the same confluence and, within a couple of hundred years, there was an area of grazed grassland which provided turf from which monuments began to be built.

Opium poppy seeds recovered from the waterlogged ditches of a long barrow expand the range of ultimately near eastern plant species introduced to Britain in the early fourth millennium.

By c. 3000 cal BC a chain of five or six diverse monuments stretched along the river bank. There is little sign that people lived here, rather that they lived nearby, possibly on the valley sides, pasturing their herds among the monuments and visiting them more formally when occasion demanded. For the next five hundred years or more, both people and their animals seem to have come to the valley bottom less often and woodland regenerated. The focus of ceremonial activity may have shifted to a little-understood monument, the Cotton ‘Henge’, which survives as two concentric ditches on the occupied valley side.

By about 2200 cal BC the valley was more heavily-grazed and less wooded than ever before. At this stage, monument building accelerated, relating so closely to the long-abandoned earlier structures as to suggest their deliberate manipulation. The most outstanding of at least 20 round barrows built at this time covered a male inhumation accompanied by numerous artefacts, some of them exotic, sealed first by a limestone cairn, and then by a heap of about two hundred cattle skulls which were already defleshed when brought to the grave. The valley bottom remained uninhabited, while settlement on the valley sides became more marked and activity began to extend onto the surrounding Boulder Clay plateau. During the second millennium cal BC two overlapping systems of paddocks and droveways were laid out around the barrows, focussed on some of them.


Elizabeth A. Walker, Francis Wenban-Smith and Frances Healy (2004) Lithics in Action. Papers from the Conference Lithic Studies in the Year 2000. Lithic Studies Society Occasional Papers. Oxbow Books, Oxford.

Abstract - 28 papers explore aspects of 3 themes: Behaviour and Cognition in the Lower and Middle Pleistocene, Rocks, Residues and Use-Wear and After Hunter Gatherers. Each theme is introduced by an overview by one of the editors.


Roland J.C. Smith, Frances Healy, Michael J. Allen, Elaine L. Morris, I. Barnes and P. J. Woodward (1997) Excavations along the Route of the Dorchester By-pass, Dorset, 1986–8. Series: Wessex Archaeological Reports. Wessex Archaeology.

Abstract - The settlement and land use history of a swathe of land around the present town of Dorchester began with a near-invisible human presence in the Mesolithic. In the earlier 4th millennium cal BC a handful of pits and scattered findspots provide a counterpoint to the finds-rich causewayed enclosure on Maiden Castle to the south. In the late 4th/early 3rd millennium, the Flagstones enclosure, distinguished by exceptional engravings and by such quantities of stone slabs, whole and fragmented, as to suggest the former presence of a stone monument, was built in established grassland. Flagstones and a linear monument at Alington Avenue nearby began the monumentalisation of an east-west ridge which was eventually the site of the Mount Pleasant and Maumbury Rings henges, as well as numerous early Bronze Age round barrows.

Settlement traces were largely peripheral to the monuments. They became more substantial in the mid second millennium cal BC, when field systems were established. A dearth of settlement evidence from most of the first millennium may reflect nucleation in the two local hillforts, at Poundbury and Maiden Castle. It is only at the end of the first millennium that settlements (and burials) again proliferate across the landscape, a pattern which persisted after the foundation of the Roman civitas capital of Durnovaria.


Frances Healy (1996) The Fenland Project Number 11: The Wissey Embayment: Evidence for Pre-Iron Age Settlement Accumulated prior to the Fenland Project. Series: East Anglian Archaeology. Field Archaeology Division, Norfolk Museums Service, Gressenhall.

Abstract - The volume attempts to document and synthesise a vast mass of evidence from the south-west Norfolk fen edge. The results, like those of more recent survey, point to substantial early Neolithic settlement before the Fen Clay transgression and substantial Beaker and early Bronze Age settlement after it, with relatively little later Neolithic activity in the period when the transgression was at its maximum and virtually no middle or late Bronze Age settlement in the wetter conditions of the later second millennium cal BC.

Large quantities of Beaker and, especially, early Bronze Age pottery in settlement assemblages excavated in the 1960s include high frequencies of pottery styles often regarded as funerary and contrast with a predominance of Neolithic material in more recently made collections. The settlements seem to have been located ecotonally, to maximise the resources of both upland and fen.

Four finds of human skeletons from the peat fen have been radiocarbon-dated to the early Bronze Age. A long-observed local concentration of fine and/or exotic flint, stone and bronze objects in the area is interpreted partly in terms of wealth and display and partly in terms of deliberate deposition, the latter being especially appropriate in the case of middle and late Bronze Age metalwork in the apparent absence of contemporary settlement in the immediate area


Frances Healy (1998) The Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Spong Hill, North Elmham. Part VI: Occupation during the Seventh to Second Millennia BC. Series: East Anglian Archaeology. Vol 39. Norfolk Archaeological Unit, Gressenhall.

Abstract - The excavation of a pagan Saxon cemetery on a sand and gravel hill in mid Norfolk revealed a multiperiod occupation site, including features of Mesolithic, Neolithic and early Bronze Age date. The Mesolithic was represented by a scatter of artefacts and by an assemblage from a hollow, probably a treethrow, dated to the 8th millennium cal BC.

The early Neolithic was represented by pits, most clustered into groups and rich in cultural material, including Mildenhall Ware. Plain, light-rimmed, carinated Bowl occurred in a few isolated features. The pit clusters sometimes included traces of post-built structures and the assemblage from each cluster was distinct in the form and decoration of its Mildenhall Ware and, to a less extent, in its lithic technology. This is interpreted as showing that each cluster resulted from a separate episode of occupation.

The later Neolithic and early Bronze Age were represented by scarcer, isolated features containing pottery and scant lithics and by concentrations of lithics largely recovered from the base of the modern topsoil, in contrast to concentrations of early Neolithic lithics which came predominantly from contemporary features, natural formations or later archaeological features. This is taken as showing that the later industries were largely abandoned on the contemporary surface while the earlier ones were largely placed in pits and natural hollows, from which they were sometimes displaced by later activity.