The double enclosure of Sutton Common seen from the air
Professor Robert Van de Noort and Dr Henry Chapman (University of Birmingham, then at the University of Hull)
'Sutton Common' is the name of three fields south of Askern, South Yorkshire, which includes the remains of an Iron Age 'double enclosure', straddling the palaeochannel of the Hampole Beck, which is now completely drained. The site is without parallel in England, and whilst considerable advancements have been made in previous work, the function of the site, and its meaning and significance on a local, regional and national levels remain elusive. Various suggestions have been made for the site's function, ranging from that of a Roman camp or camps (e.g. Whiting 1936), to a 'lowland hillfort', a 'marsh fort', a refuge camp, a site with extensive grain storage facilities, an elite settlement, a site with ideological or ritual functions signified by its relationship within a wetland landscape, or possibly a combination of these (e.g. Parker Pearson & Sydes 1996, 1997 and elsewhere). The interpretation of the site as a set of Roman camps can be dismissed, but as yet none of the remaining suggestions can be proven to be more valid than others.
Between 1998 and 2003 new excavation was undertaken by Robert Van de Noort and Henry Chapman at Sutton Common in partnership with the University of Hull. Whilst these excavations were aimed at determining the function(s) of the site, it is part of a wider project aimed at preserving in situ large parts of the site and its wider surroundings. This project is spearheaded by the Trustees of the Carstairs Countryside Trust, who own the land, in partnership with English Heritage, English Nature, Countryside Agency, the Universities of Exeter and Hull and Grantham Brundell and Farran.
In 2006 the post-excavation process was completed, and the monograph 'Sutton Common- the excavation of an Iron Age 'marsh-fort' was edited by Robert Van de Noort, Henry Chapman and John Collis and published by the CBA (Research report 154) in 2007.