England contains numerous strange monuments called causewayed enclosures. Until recently, scholars believed that these mammoth earthen structures were built over many generations. However, new evidence suggests that they were constructed over a much shorter period, which represented mankind’s first known property boom.
The Mysterious Causewayed Enclosures?
Causewayed enclosures are hilltops surrounded by ancient circular ditches. Some examples include Maiden Castle and Windmill Hill. Researchers have long considered them to be a sort of ritual structure with each generation building new ditches to match those built by the previous ones. However, new dating techniques suggest that most of the causewayed enclosures were built, used, and abandoned in a fifty year time period around 3700 BC.
Previous archaeologists were hampered by highly inaccurate dating techniques. According to a recent article entitled, Archaeology Dating Technique Uncovers ‘Property Boom’ of 3700 BC, Carbon-14 dates, which are generated from organic material, can have margins of errors in the range of centuries. That made it difficult to pinpoint the exact age of the causewayed enclosures.
Dating the Causewayed Enclosures?
In order to address the problem, archaeologist Alex Bayliss and a team of experts compiled “hundreds of thousands of scraps of dating evidence.” They proceeded to match the Carbon-14 dates with other archaeological finds, in effect knocking down the margin of error from centuries to decades.
“The dates were not what we expected when we began this project but prehistorians are just going to have to get their heads around it, a lot of what we have been taught in the past is complete bollocks.” Alex Bayliss, English Heritage
Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis
The purpose of these ancient causewayed enclosures is unknown. Some possibilities include: settlement, defense, cattle compounds, trade centers, meeting centers, ritual centers, and burial sites. And the reason for their sudden construction is also unknown. However, it seems safe to say that this ancient “property boom” was probably caused in part by increases in wealth and population.
The discovery of the property boom raises more questions which will hopefully be answered in the future. Why were these causewayed enclosures, which required tremendous effort to build, used sparingly? Why did they fall out of favor? And most importantly…
Why were they abandoned so suddenly?