Although there are some signs of occupation on the hill from earlier, the first significant settlement at Crickley was in the early Neolithic. This is the period of the first farming in the UK, brought the technology of making pottery, and formed the first permanent settlements.

At about 3,700BC, about four acres at the highest point of the the hill was surrounded by a double ring of banks and ditches. This wasn’t really a fortified settlement - the ditches have gaps between, the bank was only about half a metre high with a palisade on top. This type of site is called a Causewayed Enclosure, and Crickley is one of many across Southern England (they are in the Low Countries too). There were several entrances - about five - with apparently the main one on the South East side. A roadway leads from this approximately along the line of the modern fence, and round to the right onto the top of the hill.

It is likely, but not certain, that there were houses here at that time. There is certainly a huge scatter of finds from this period. In general, Causewayed Camps are often not permanently settled, rather they represent a place for the population around to gather for markets or other gatherings. The same may be true for Crickley. The ditches and banks don’t seem to be strong enough for serious defence although there is some evidence for attacks from archers at times.

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The First Neolithic settlement

Click photo to see the whole outer ditch ring

Entrance on South East side

This period of the site was marked by frequent rebuilding and amendment, often apparently deliberate and methodical. There must be a suspicion that, like other similar sites in Britain, there was a ritual component to its use and to these actions. Whatever the purpose of the site, after perhaps a hundred years of use, at around 3,600BC, the ditches were filled up and the site abandoned.

Click photo to see the whole inner ditch ring

Click photo to see the settlement area