The excavation of a sub-circular cropmark feature overlooking the Colne estuary to the north-west of Brightlingsea revealed a sequence of recutting indicative of a protracted programme of maintenance during the Early Neolithic period. A concentric inner ring-ditch was either earlier than or contemporary with the digging of the outer ditch, but had gone out of use before the abandonment of the site. The remains of a cremation burial and a series of deliberate deposits of flint artefacts and Mildenhall-style pottery indicate the date and ceremonial nature of the monument.
Four hundred metres to the south-east lay a Middle Bronze Age cremation cemetery comprising at least thirty-one ring-ditches and forty-eight burials. The burials were found to be distributed mostly between the ring-ditches, although a few were inside. It is suggested that this spatial pattern reflects the chronological development of the cemetery. Comparisons are drawn with the funerary complex at Ardleigh and other sites in the region.
Data collected during survey by fieldwalking within a 580ha area around the excavated sites is presented and discussed. The burnt flint spreads differ in character from one another with a string of very densely nucleated scatters between 5m and 10m OD interpreted as ploughed-out burnt flint mounds. Lithics concentrations almost certainly represent sites disturbed by ploughing. There is a long swathe of multi-period occupational remains on the southern crest of the peninsula’s 20m plateau.
C.P. Clarke , N.J. Lavender, 2008. 'An Early Neolithic Ring-ditch and Middle Bronze Age Cemetery: excavation and survey at Brightlingsea, Essex', East Anglian Archaeology 126