In Pictures: Dirty Weekend at Marden Henge


What happens when you take a group people who have never done archaeology before to excavate the biggest Neolithic monument ever discovered in the UK?

Marden Henge is an extraordinary site. Halfway between Stonehenge and Avebury, this littleknown henge is actually Britain’s biggest: it’s actually ten times larger than Stonehenge.

So far, evidence suggests that it was built at the end of the Neolithic, around 4,400 years ago – that’s the same time as Durrington Walls, the same time as Silbury Hill, and the same time that those famous sarsen trilithons were lifted up at Stonehenge.

Yes, this is Marden Henge, and yes this is where we took our intrepid group of Dirty Weekenders to learn the fine art of archaeology. Here’s what happened next.

Right at the start, we head to the very centre of the henge for a quick introduction – it’s so big you can’t even see the edges from here


After a brief troweling lesson, the Dirty Weekenders were away!


Jess became the first person to find pottery on the site, and the first person to touch them in at least 4,000 years


They might look like dog biscuits, but they’re a really significant discovery that can prove the date of the layer they were found in


Brian found some too!


Hillary found a stunning piece of worked flint


Flints are much harder to identify, but thankfully we had James to give us a hand


But he doesn’t stop there; James is a skilled flintknapper and we gather round to see how they would originally have been made


These are just some of his examples, including a replica of the famous Marden Henge arrowhead


What’s that you’ve got there Keith?


Another incredible piece of flint! How exciting… Well spotted!


Soon our finds tray is starting to fill up with REAL flint tools and debitage

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Suddenly there’s a bit of a commotion… Brian’s found a post hole!


And another one!


And don’t tell me… Lisa’s found one too?


Of course Chris has only gone and found an entire pit!


It’s starting to show up really clearly – that bit in the middle is much darker


Now it’s time to start recording everything we’ve found. Keith grabs one end of the tape measure


And Hillary grabs the other


While Annie records the measurements


What a masterpiece!


So that’s the ground plan done – now it’s time to record heights above sea level of everything we found


Jess takes a measurement through the dumpy level


And this is exactly what she can see!


With everything recorded, we take a closer look at some of the finds, like this flint tool


And this scraper


This chunk of Neolithic pottery is impressive!


And this slightly later Bronze Age piece


All in all, the Dirty Weekenders did an incredible job


And had a jolly good time while doing it too!


Even the Site Directors were impressed! Well done!


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Written by Maiya Pina-Dacier

Head of Community at DigVentures, Maiya digs with a trowel in one hand, and a Twitter feed in the other. She reports on all our discoveries live from the trenches, and keeps our Site Hut full of the latest archaeology news. Got a story? Just drop her a line...

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