With the remaining section hidden under the grounds of Thomas Hardy’s house, Max Gate (in Dorchester), the Flagstones interrupted ditch enclosure is a little known site from Neolithic Dorset.
The site was partially excavated in 1987-8 prior to works on the Dorchester by-pass. Found under the demolished Flagstones House were mid-4th millennium BC pits containing animal bone, pottery and flints – some of these pits may have been the setting for standing stones.
In the later 4th millennium BC a circular enclosure of irregularly spaced pits was constructed. The chalk walls of some of the pit/ditch segments featured engraved designs, probably cut with flint. An adult cremation and two child inhumations were found at the bottom of ditch sections, each beneath a slab of sandstone or sarsen. Carbon dating of the remains put the building of the enclosure at around 3486–2886 BC.
A crouched burial was found in a later Early Bronze Age mound in the centre of the enclosure. The central mound demonstrated a large amount of flint-knapping activity.
The Neolithic enclosure does not meet the typical definition of a causewayed enclosure notably in terms of its almost perfect circle shape, a lack of the sort of placed deposits which are found at many such sites, and particularly its later date. Comparisons have been made instead with the first phase of Stonehenge.