Why is it called Vespians Camp? The site has no connections with being Roman, but the name was given by Antiquarian William Camden. The camp itself is a fortified Iron Age hillfort, which was thought to have been archaeologically destroyed through previous landscaping works in the 18th Century by the Marquess of Queensberry, who had major works completes on the areas surrounding the site (the Antrobus Estate) and areas around Amesbury Abbey. The developed areas became ornamental gardens, with what was popular at the time – large tree plantations. However, the area in question has turned out to be an archaeological ‘blind spot’ (Current Archaeology), and has escaped the majorities of works and remained in an outstanding preservation condition.
Image shown is from a drawing by Sir Richard Colt Hoare in the 19th Century. (Image from Online Here).
This site has since been called ‘The Cradle of Stonehenge’ (Current Archaeology) due to the archaeological evidence suggesting the camp was in for 9,000 years, some three millennia before the creation of Stonehenge. Large quantities of Mesolithic materials have been excavated from the site since 2010 by Buckingham University (Website). Finds include worked flints (and many burnt flints), bones (over 60% of which were auroch). This proves that the environment of Stonehenge was highly ritualistic and important to not only the Neolithic people, but also the Mesolithic communities who predate them. The evidence for Mesolithic activity within the Stonehenge landscape is scarce (only the post pits located under the old carpark were the known Mesolithic example).
Only future excavations and archaeological research will provide a greater understanding of this site, which will without a doubt expand our appreciation of not only the site itself, but the wider context of the surrounding landscape.
Buckingham University Research: http://www.buckingham.ac.uk/research/hri/fellows/jacques/stonehenge-discoveries. Accessed Online 31/12/2014.
Current Archaeology: http://www.archaeology.co.uk/articles/features/vespasians-camp-cradle-of-stonehenge.htm. Accessed Online 31/12/2014.
Stonehenge World Heritage Site: http://22.214.171.124/stonehengemap/sites/vespasians_camp/01.html. Accessed Online 01/01/2015.