1 Definition

A henge-enclosure is a large, roughly circular or oval area of ground, usually over 300m across, which is more or less completely enclosed by a boundary work made up of a ditch and external bank. The enclosure boundary is often slightly irregular in plan. Either two or four fairly wide entranceways through the earthwork provided access to the interior of the monument. Henge-enclosures typically contain or lie adjacent to one or more standard henge monuments.

Henge-enclosures have mostly been discovered through surface survey as earthworks, but in several cases aerial photography, probing, and geophysical survey have contributed towards their recognition and definition.

Henge-enclosures may sometimes be confused with other classes of prehistoric monuments, principally large settlement enclosures (various classes) of Iron Age and later date. The position of the bank, the nature of the entrances, and the presence of an associated henge are important features for distinguishing henge-enclosures.

Specifically excluded from this definition of henge-enclosures are large standard henge monuments. Such sites contain a rather different range of components and lack the abundant evidence for occupation in the interior which is found on henge- enclosures.

Henge-enclosures are of late Neolithic date, culturally part of the Grooved ware tradition, and are currently interpreted as settlements and ceremonial centres.