In 1995 Adderbury celebrated what it believed to be its 1,000 year anniversary, however, 6 months’ ago that assumed history changed due the results of a geophysical survey of the Milton Road North housing development land. The survey discovered enough evidence to suggest that Adderbury was a substantial settlement in 3,000 BC to 2,000 BC, a period that covers the Neolithic Age to the dawn of the early Bronze Age.
The subsequent archaeological investigation of the site has confirmed the existence of two henges and a round house. The proximity of the finds – bordering neighbouring land and the recently acquired community land – suggests to archaeologists that there will be further evidence to discover and that decisions regarding the use of the community land will need to take into consideration that further archaeological investigation will be done as a pre-condition of any development.
The community land was gifted to the village by the developer of Milton Road North – a housing site now renamed Henge Close – the community land sits between the new houses and the Ball Colegrave site in West Adderbury.
What is the Adderbury Henge?
We’re all familiar with Stonehenge and more locally the Rollright Stones, these are among 176 stone henges in England that have survived from prehistory. The Adderbury Henge site is an altogether rarer version, a henge constructed using wood typically built between 3,000 BC – 2,500 BC of which there are only about 50 known sites in England.
The most famous of which is Woodhenge close to Stonehenge, which is considered to be the embodiment of an important stage in the evolution of religious beliefs and community organisation.
The known archaeological evidence collected so far suggests that Adderbury Henge was a settlement of around 50 people. They were the early pioneers of farming in this country and would have likely cleared land of trees to be able to farm.
The scale of a settlement of this size is significant, the estimated population of England for this period is in the 2,000 – 10,000 range growing to 100,000 – 200,000 by the early Bronze Age at around 2,000 BC. A settlement of this size could have represented 2.5% of the population of England – in modern terms the equivalent population density of Birmingham and Manchester combined.
A Community Resource
The expectation is that there will be further discoveries on the community land gifted to the village. This provides Adderbury with an opportunity to recognise its 4,000 year existence as a settlement but also to use that knowledge to help secure its future. Other villages in England that have had the opportunity to manage their wooden henge and Neolithic heritage have created tourist and educational sites to interpret and commemorate their history.
These villages are using their heritage to help generate their economy, the Tourism industry in England is worth 9% of national GDP according to research from Deloitte, one of the world’s largest accountancy firms, with the biggest economic impact being in the food, drink and retail sectors.
The Adderbury Henge site could have a vital role in helping to safeguard our village pubs and shop and once again play its original role as an important landmark in community organisation, how we decide to preserve and develop this heritage is going to be one of the most important decisions we will make as a community.