Causewayed Camps

Medieval Castle
 

Understanding the History of the word 'castle'
To understand the relevance of the Causewayed Camps, often called Causewayed Enclosures, to the History of English castles is explained by looking at the definition of a castle. The word 'castle' is derived from the Latin words castellum, meaning fortress, and castrum meaning a fortified place. The word castle is defined as the following:

"A safe retreat against intrusion or invasion"
Another castle definition is:
"A large fortified building or set of buildings"

 
Picture of Stonehenge
 
History of the English Castle
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The English castle, as we generally recognise it, was built of stone during the Medieval era. But the story of the history of the castle goes back to the Neolithic Period - the Stone Age 3000 - 1800 BC! This page includes fascinating facts and information about the English Causewayed Camps

Neolithic Architecture      Stonehenge

The history of the castle therefore can date back to the time when people started to live in settled communities - the Stone Age! The Causewayed Camps fall into the castle definition of "A safe retreat against intrusion or invasion.

Causewayed Camps of the Stone Age ( 3000 - 1800 BC )

Causewayed Camps or Enclosures

  • How do Causewayed Camps, or Enclosures relate to the History of the castle?
  • What was the purpose of Causewayed Camps?
  • What did Causewayed Camps look like?
  • Archaeological evidence and examples!

The History of the Causewayed Camps, or Enclosures & the English Castle
When looking at the History of the English castle we need to look for people who worked together to create, or build, a safe retreat against intrusion or invasion! This applies to people living in England during the Neolithic Period, the Stone Age.

What was the purpose of Causewayed Camps, or Enclosures?
A Neolithic Causewayed Camp was built as an enclosed area which was used for a meeting place for formal tribal purposes, trading, animal compounds and defence from intruders. A safe retreat against intrusion or invasion from other Neolithic, or Stone Age, tribes or even just to keep wild animals out! They were not necessarily used as sites which were always permanently occupied by people.

Description of Causewayed Camps, or Enclosures
Neolithic Causewayed Camps were generally built on hilltops and consisted of a central ritual area which was surrounded by several concentric, or spiral, rings of banks and ditches. The means of crossing the ditches, or defences, were by several causeways ( raised roadways ) hence the name of 'Causewayed Camps'! It is believed that the ditches were excavated in sections, leaving the wide causeways intact in between the ditches. The Neolithic Causewayed Camps were quite large, covering  an area of around 3 acres.

What was a Causewayed Ditch Ring?
The camps are sometimes incorrectly referred to as a Causewayed Ditch Ring. Causewayed ring ditches were smaller and relate only to activities surrounding funeral customs. The ring ditches were later used as defence mechanisms with Hillforts which developed during the Bronze Age ( 1800 - 600 BC )

Evidence of English Causewayed Camps
Archaeological evidence and examples of famous English Neolithic Causewayed Camps include those at Hambledon Hill, Windmill Hill, Crickley Hill and Coombe Hill. The sites are some of the oldest remains in the English landscape.

Why were Causewayed Camps so important to English castle history?
Causewayed Camps are extremely important to English castle history and evolution. They mark the transition from a Nomadic society where the people were Hunter-gathers, who constantly moved from one area to another, to a community of people who became settled in just one area. The facts and information provided on this page are highly relevant to anyone with an interest in English castles!

Causewayed Camps

History of the English Castle

The History of the English Castle

Stonehenge
Hillforts
Maiden Castle

Roman Forts
The Dark Ages - Alfred the Great - the Burhs

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