An open-area excavation conducted in advance of development at Marne Barracks, Catterick, in 2004 identified a relatively rare Late Neolithic ‘palisaded’ enclosure and other features. Approximately 55% of the enclosure was exposed. It consisted of two concentric sub-circular palisades with diameters up to 175 m and 200 m respectively. Each palisade consisted of a double circuit of posts, with the posts being c. 1 m apart from centre to centre. Many of the posts on the western side of the monument had been sufficiently carbonised for the remains of individual posts to be identifiable. Twenty-one radiocarbon ages were determined and Bayesian modelling has produced a date estimate of 2530–2310 cal BC for the start of construction of the monument. This date matches well with new dates for the construction of Silbury Hill, the appearance of Beaker pottery in graves, the Amesbury Archer, and the timber circles at Durrington Walls, for example.
The Marne Barracks monument exhibits significant differences to other known examples of this type, and is in some respects unique. In particular the ‘paired post’ arrangement of a double circuit of posts in each palisade is unparalleled in any other known example. The apparent width of the entrances to the Marne enclosure is also at variance with other known sites, though this may in part be an artefact of post-depositional survival. The monument sits in a ritual landscape and, like a few others of its type, is close to water and a hill or large mound from where the activities taking place within the enclosure might have been observed. Do the nearby hill, the entrances, and the arrangement of the uprights all relate to control of physical and visual access into, or out of, the monument?
A number of broadly contemporary monuments, all within 5 km of Marne Barracks, contribute to a significant Neolithic ritual focus on the River Swale gravels. The complex of cursus and henge monuments at Thornborough and the henges at Nunwick, Hutton Moor, and Cana Barn all lie less than 25 km to the south, in the Swale-Ure interfluve.