The future of Wendover Woodhenge
On Saturday 11 July 2020, Wendover News published information supplied by HS2 Ltd about exciting archaeological discoveries along the proposed route, click here . The press release stimulated some questions from readers. Wendover News responded to the press release and will supply answers as they are given.
Question: The photo captioned Wellwick Farm ceremonial timber circle-3, shows what seem to be stones marking the post holes. Presumably, this is the one which is similar to Stonehenge and therefore extremely ancient. Was there any trace of the wooden posts?
Answer: The image shows shadows in the post holes rather than stones. Our archaeologists 100% excavated all of the holes so they are empty spaces in the ground – you are looking at the spaces that would have held the wooden posts. We didn’t find any remains of the wood – due to the extreme age of the monument, these would have rotted away years ago. The feature would actually be more similar to Woodhenge but also is similar to Stonehenge in that it is a monumental circle – the only difference being the building material and exact configuration of posts. We aren’t aware of any similar wooden henges nearby – the nearest similar feature I have been told is in Oxfordshire. The wooden henge uncovered is significant because of its uniqueness. We have worked with Historic England throughout all of our works so they are aware of this find.
When this question was put directly to Historic England, this answer was given by the Historic England Co-ordinator for Phase 1 of HS2: The angle of illumination of the picture in your email does create a slight illusion of upstanding remains. In fact the remains are those of a ring of shallow pits which probably once formed the setting for wooden posts, with a much smaller ring in the centre. There are no surviving posts and no upstanding stones, but this seems to have been the site of a prehistoric timber circle, and is a very exciting find, particularly in this area. By analogy with other timber circles we would expect it to be broadly Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age, but it has not yet been scientifically dated. HE has been providing detailed advice on the excavation to HS2 to ensure it is carried out to the highest standard. In terms of preservation, our understanding is that this is an area which is needed urgently for construction work and is critical to the construction of the line itself, and so preservation in situ of the remains is not an option.
It appears that the site of the Woodhenge was covered over immediately.
On Friday 24 July fusion-jv notified the people in Wendover of “a small temporary construction compound” which will “be set up near Wellwick Farm alongside the Wendover A413 bypass”. A map was enclosed which shows the access to this site is off the Wendover bypass. This notification has not yet been uploaded to the https://hs2inbucksandoxfordshire.commonplace.is/news site.