This is the first in a series of short blog posts giving a brief insight into the archaeology of Dorset. Having used this format elsewhere I find this is a nice succinct way of unashamedly promoting some of my favourite, or some of the most important archaeological sites in the county. The aim is to cover the breadth of periods (mostly Neolithic onwards) represented in Dorset’s archaeological record. I do not attempt to cover all aspects of a site so please feel free to comment.
Mount Pleasant Henge, east of the county town Dorchester, is considered an important site in British Prehistory, not least due to its identification by Stuart Piggott in the 1930s and its famous excavation in 1970-71 by Geoffrey Wainwright. Mount Pleasant has become the type-site for later Neolithic henge enclosures. The surviving earthworks are the ploughed-out remains of an enormous earth enclosure comprising a massive bank with internal berm and ditch, measuring 370m east-west by 340m north-south with a bank approximately 4 metres high. Within the large henge enclosure is a smaller inner henge of 43 metres diameter containing postholes laid out in five concentric rings. These postholes are likely to have contained timber posts – later, the timber structure may have been replaced with standing stones. Wainwright’s excavation uncovered a palisade trench 2 metres deep within concentric to the inner side of the ditch with just two narrow entrance gaps notably marked by massive post holes.