26 April 2017
Created by Barry Thompson © 2011-2017 Aston on Trent on Trent Local History Group, all rights reserved
Pre-historic Aston on Trent - Part 1 Crop Marks and the Aston on Trent Cursus Aston on Trent has a long history with written records going back to mediaeval times, however the area was inhabited long before even the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons were on the scene. Aerial photographs from the 1960's clearly show a complex series of lines, including a 'cursus', a pair of straight lines that run roughly north east - south west for more than a mile. Cursuses have only been found in Britain and were named after Roman race tracks by William Stukely, an 18th century antiquarian who found the first at Stonehenge in 1723. However they actually pre-date the Romans by a considerable time; the Aston on Trent cursus construction date is estimated to be between 2500BC and 1500BC. No one knows why the cursus was built or what it was used for, although it may have links with ritual burial functions. With ditches around 11 feet wide and 5 feet deep and at least 5700 feet long, it is a significant construction. A number of Bronze Age burial sites in the area have been excavated and a few Bronze Age artefacts were found but the Aston on Trent cursus seems to have been built at a later date. This was confirmed when a section of the cursus was excavated by in 1986. Another feature seen on some aerial photographs from the 1960's, near to the northern end of the cursus was a henge monument - a double ditched circular feature with a ring of post holes. This was destroyed when the field was turned into a gravel pit!
Map of Aston on Trent showing the extensive crop marks in the fields east of the village