Neolithic pits

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Two loose clusters of Late Neolithic (c. 2850–2200 BC) pits have been recorded on the site, containing a remarkable series of special deposits. So far some ten pits have been excavated, but it is known from the earlier evaluation trenching that similar pits exist more widely across the site. 
 
While Neolithic pits are a relatively common feature of the prehistoric landscape, the exact purpose of these pits is uncertain, although it is clear for the special nature of many of the objects found in them, and the way that some of these had been carefully placed, that they were not used for the disposal of waste. The selected objects probably had symbolic significance, and their formalised ‘burial’ is likely to have had a ritual or religious purpose.
 
The digging of the pits themselves, which were all of similar size – about 1 metre in diameter and up to 0.6 metres deep – was also probably an important part of this ritual activity. As soon as they were dug, however, they were apparently refilled sequentially, probably with material containing organic components followed by large more durable ‘special’ objects of stone, antler and bone.  
 
These objects include a Cornish Greenstone axe, miniature and polished flint axes and a very finely made and rare discoidal flint knife. The other flintwork recovered was different in character from typical domestic or industrial assemblages, containing few scrapers and little flint knapping waste. One pit contained a large amount of flint core material – an element often absent from flint knapping assemblages. 
 
Two notable stone objects were made of chalk – a small spherical ‘ball’ and a large concave ‘bowl’, both of which still showed the scoring marks by which they had been carved and shaped. Animal bones deposited in the pits included those of cattle and pig, and red deer and roe deer; one pit contained the horn of an aurochs (a species of wild cattle). 
 
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Also from the pits was a form of decorated Late Neolithic pottery known as Grooved Ware. The sherds were in the Woodlands style – which is distinct from the Durrington Walls style found at the massive Late Neolithic henge just over a mile to the west. This group of well-preserved pits, therefore, provides a very important opportunity to examine a distinctive assemblage of Woodlands-style associated finds.