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CATEGORY: feature
DEFINITION: A common feature of archaeological sites in association with defensive structures, as a means of drainage, or as a construction trench. A ditch was usually dug outside the walls of forts, fortresses and so on, as part of the defenses, and was often filled with water. Ditches which are allowed to erode, without much interference, go through three phases of infilling. Primary fill accumulates as the sides of the ditch collapse. Vegetation then begins at the bottom of the ditch and the secondary fill starts to build up. This material has a much finer texture than primary fill. The rate of secondary fill deposition is related to soil erosion in the surrounding area. If the land by the ditch is plowed, thick colluvial deposits, called tertiary fill, may bury the secondary fill.

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