7. Aims and Objectives

The original research objectives for the excavation project are discussed elsewhere (2.2 Project Objectives). In addition, on a project of the scale of West Heslerton many ideas and new questions arise in the process of undertaking the fieldwork, some of which are quickly forgotten, or forgotten only to be remembered much later on, sometimes after the publication is complete. Other areas that deserve discussion relate to the methodology employed; for instance, how does one undertake and document a 45-acre trench? Many of the ideas and questions raised in the field will be reflected by a different emphasis within the analysis of the retrieved data to answer the questions originally posed. Changes of emphasis that cannot be identified arise simply as a consequence of 'being there', others are more obvious.

This section presents the revised research objectives for the analysis project. The aims have been divided along broadly chronological and thematic lines (see below, 7.1 and 7.2). Although a number of the objectives addressed are inherently multi-period in nature, they are presented chronologically below.

7.1 Chronological Research Objectives

7.1.1 Prehistoric Re-assessment of the prehistoric landscape

The completion of the excavation of the Early Anglo-Saxon settlement marks the end of a sequence of long-term projects devoted to the examination of an extensive area of landscape, of which the most recent project has been a major part. Although the focus in the most recent work has been more clearly directed towards the Early Anglo-Saxon period, the sheer scale of the excavation has inevitably led to the recovery of quantities of prehistoric material and a lesser number of prehistoric features. These include features associated with settlement and death as well as a comprehensive collection of lithic material and ceramics. However, although much of the material is intrinsically of interest, its greater potential is as part of the broader data-set recovered in the area over nearly 20 years. The excavations since 1978 have given us an unprecedented view of an almost continuous transect extending for two kilometres across the interface between the Yorkshire Wolds and the wetlands in the centre of the Vale of Pickering and included the examination of Mesolithic lithic assemblages, Late Neolithic and early Bronze Age ritual complexes, later Bronze Age settlement, burial and land division features and Iron Age settlement and landscape features.

These data can collectively be used to examine the development and use of the prehistoric landscape in general as part of a synthetic re-assessment of the prehistoric landscape, our knowledge of which has been so completely altered by this long research campaign incorporating data from excavation, ground-based and air-borne survey. This work might best be published as a stand-alone paper, as a follow-up to the first report published nearly ten years ago (see also 2.6.1 Chronological summary of the excavation results, 4.4 Assessment of Soils, 4.4.8 Analysis of soils from Grubenhäuser and 4.4.13 Conclusions).

7.1.2 Roman Examine the context of the site in the Roman landscape

The unusual nature of the Roman activity at this site demands that we attempt to set this activity in a wider context. This is possible because of the extensive air photographic, multi-spectral and geophysical surveys, sporadic field-walking and sampling excavations undertaken over nearly two decades of research in the area. Coupled with the detailed study proposed for the Roman ceramics, which will require basic comparative examination of material from other local sites including, for instance, the Knapton Kiln site and Beadlam Villa. This will enable us to examine the broader framework of which the present site was a part (see also Roman, 4.1 Plant Macrofossils, 4.2 Charcoal Assessment, 4.3 Faunal Remains Assessment and 4.9 The Roman Pottery Assessment). Examine and interpret the basic components of the Roman 'Ritual' landscape

The evidence recovered in 1995, in particular, points to the presence of a substantial ritual centre at the core of the later settlement. Reworking of the landscape on a grand scale preceded the construction of at least two unusual structures interpreted as shrines, the construction of a well (although this has yet to be firmly dated) and a series of associated 'service' structures flanking and blocking the valley to the south, or more likely controlling access from the spring which remains active to the north. Evidence of industrial activity in the form of pottery manufacture and very limited clear settlement evidence combine to emphasise the unusual nature of this activity. The examination of the structural and ceramic components will here be of paramount importance, as will the examination of the phasing to identify clearly Roman deposits that will allow us to study differences in the faunal and environmental material and contrast this with the Early and Middle-Saxon evidence. The possibility of continuity of the 'ritual space' that seems deliberately separated from the main area of Anglo-Saxon activity by a series of large structures and associated fence slots offers the potential to examine questions of power and control (see also Roman, 3.7.1 Ceramics, Ritual association and 6.3 A Late Roman Ritual Landscape).

7.1.3 Transitional Examine the case for continuity

In the past the case for continuity has been examined primarily with reference to surviving urban sites. At West Heslerton we not only have very late and sub-Roman activity but also an Early-Saxon site of potentially proto-urban character. Preliminary assessment of the ceramic assemblage and the stratigraphic component indicates that continuity from Roman to Saxon is a feature of the site. This deserves detailed examination, drawing upon all the recovered evidence. If continuity can be demonstrated we need to identify what this actually means in social, demographic and economic terms. These are immensely important but also difficult issues which will require detailed comparative analysis to extract indications of commonality or difference; only through what will be an on-going and iterative process can we hope to explore the sequences and patterns of activity, so that questions of social, cultural, demographic and economic dynamics across the 4th and 5th centuries can be properly addressed.

Continuity from Early to Middle Saxon, although clearly the case, requires careful definition since the site seems to contract to half its original size during this phase. Likewise the final phase and desertion of the site require assessment within a historical and economic framework. The lack of direct dating evidence and the unique nature of the data-set make this an exciting challenge, a challenge that will need to draw both on the stratigraphic and structural components, the assemblage analysis, and both the Roman and Anglo-Saxon ceramics analyses (see also,, 3.3.2, 3.7, 4.9, 4.14, and 6.4).

7.1.4 Anglo-Saxon Model key morphological components of the settlement - can these be used to establish a predictive model of Early Anglo-Saxon settlement with respect to future threatened sites of this category?

The full plan of the settlement has been recovered; spatial variation within the settlement is such that we can propose a predictive model which can be tested by reference to other published sites, and used in reference to future threatened sites to assist in sampling and preservation strategy formulation (see also, , 3.6 and 6.5 ). Reconstruct the environment and economy of the settlement

The site has produced a large and varied environmental data-set and, although waterlogged deposits were very limited, this offers the potential for reconstructing both the site and broader local environments. Pollen and land-snail evidence was insufficient for recovery of usable data; the soil micro-morphology has, however, given better than anticipated results whilst pollen and phytoliths may still be recovered from coprolites. The large body of material culture evidence, besides providing direct economic evidence, will provide the key dating indicators to establish the stratigraphic sequence and provide a temporal framework for establishing the environmental and economic development sequence (see also 2.5.1, 2.6.1, 3.8, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5 and 4.7 ). Explore the architecture of the settlement

What were the Grubenhäuser for and how did they function? We have so much data for this question that we must surely be able to offer a definitive view. Clearly the question is not as simple as it sounds; the presence of so much rubbish in the fills of these features has confused the picture in the past, and whilst this tells us a great deal about disposal practices, could still obscure the full picture. These structures must have performed many functions; one important example is their probable use as grain stores in some cases. Detailed examination of the materials from the primary fills may help us to determine to what extent the size and shapes of these structures are indicative of their primary function.

To what extent could the post-hole structures be linked to either continental or Romano-British antecedents? This question appears to have been addressed, simply by the very limited number of potential continental parallels. Some research will be required to determine to what extent this picture has changed.

To what extent did the post-hole structures form part of an emerging national architectural tradition rather than a less substantial local tradition? It is now very clear that a well-defined architectural tradition did emerge in the Early Anglo-Saxon period. The wealth of new evidence recovered from West Heslerton and the startling uniformity at the national level is one of the most striking aspects that has emerged, and hints at a far more sophisticated communications network than is implied by the now very outdated term the 'Dark Ages'. Questions still remain about the nature of the superstructure, but a metrical analysis of a sample of the West Heslerton structures in relation to those examined elsewhere provides a convincing case that these structures employed tie beam construction.

What were the resource requirements required for the construction of the timber buildings? >Examination of the charcoal and plant remains in tandem with the structural analysis will allow us to investigate the level of resource required to construct the buildings and therefore give us a measure of the environmental impact of the settlement on local woodlands. This work will require modelling of the resource requirements for each of the proposed basic reconstructions, each of which would have made quite a different impact; if for instance the roofs were thatched then the resource requirements and area of impact would be quite different to that incurred by the use of timber shingles. The presence of heather in the plant assemblage is potentially an important local import but without more knowledge of its frequency we cannot determine whether this might have been used for bedding, in roof construction or as wall packing (see also,, 3.6, 4.1, 4.2, 6.5.5 and 6.5.6). Is there any evidence that allows us to distinguish between 'Native' and 'Saxon'?

We still do not know the answer to this question and it remains to be seen to what extent we can identify socially or culturally distinctive patterns in the material culture from the site that might help with this question. If, as has been argued for the cemetery, a percentage of the population represent the Anglian component and the remainder are essentially 'British' then we need to examine the assemblages with a view to isolating components that indicate non-temporal or functional differences. This is a most difficult area but should nevertheless be kept in mind during the analytical process (see also 3.6 and 3.7). Is there any evidence for long distance trade and, if so, was this with the 'Anglian' homelands or within a broader North European context?

Evidence of trade is most dramatically present in the form of thousands of fragments of Niedermendig lava, a preferred material for the manufacture of quernstones. This material is widely distributed from the prehistoric period onwards, but particularly during the Early and Middle-Saxon periods forms a magnificent indicator of trade; however, what it was travelling with is far less obvious. Other long distance trade items are far less common and although further material may be identified during the analytical phase, obvious evidence beyond the lava querns is very limited. The glass may well be a product of trade and it is safe to assume that wine may have been imported in barrels, which do not survive. It is possible that other indicators of trade may survive in the presence of exotic species in the plant macrofossil evidence. The aim in approaching this question will be to establish the scale and character of exchange contacts/activity (see also 3.7.1, 3.7.5,, 4.15.5, 4.15.6 and 6.5.4). Did the settlement include an identifiable 'ritual' component?

Perhaps. The whole question of ritual within Anglo-Saxon society, in which groves of trees were important (witness the groves of trees at Goodmanham discussed in Bede), is the most difficult problem of all. What is clear is that the possible 'ritual valley' established during the Roman period was very deliberately blocked off from easy access from the settlement, with intense activity running right up to the structures that formed the blocking. Beyond this a small number of finds, including a Middle-Saxon gilded strap-end, indicate that activity did occur here but it was severely restricted. The lack of evidence may be used to argue that the area was deliberately avoided, but the overall feeling is that this is unlikely and that although access was controlled, this area, which would otherwise have provided a perfect setting for so many activities, was deliberately retained as some sort of ritual space. The degree of spatial control in the data recovery may offer some assistance in examining this question. Clearly if we are to address the combined questions of ceremonial or symbolic aspects of the use of space we will need to bring together the evidence from both cemetery and settlement and examine the structuring of these two complexes within the broader landscape (see also,, 3.6.4, 4.2 and 6.5.2). Explore the morphology, evidence for planning and spatial development of the site

The multi-faceted approach required to construct the detailed phasing of the site needs to be brought to bear on identifying the development sequence. One of the most striking aspects of the excavation was the massive variability from area to area; this made the whole project more like running multiple excavations on different but similar sites rather than a seamless single site. Through careful, temporally linked, spatial analysis of both the faunal and plant assemblages and the evidence from the soil micro-morphology studies, we can examine in some detail the use of space within the settlement. The remarkable differences from area to area indicate a high degree of planning during the Early Anglo-Saxon period at least; the shifting model offered for Mucking and for West Stow does not appear to apply to the evidence from West Heslerton. Here the settlement appears to have been set out on a grand scale, from a core at the southern end of the site where Roman enclosures had defined the primary focus above and around the spring that supplied the water course running through the centre of the settlement.

This picture is likewise quite different to that found on the continent where individual properties containing structure groups are clearly identifiable. The assemblage analyses with the stratigraphic analysis of the enclosures will allow us to establish a very detailed sequence for the southern third of the site. Once this is complete multivariate comparative analysis of the assemblages from the open areas, where stratigraphic preservation was at its worst, will provide the basis for establishing the full sequence. The nature of the material and lack of many clearly dateable individual objects will make this process complex and time consuming. It will require careful documentation of both the direct and inferred links across the site, but should, for the first time, provide us with a very clear picture of site development from a site of this type.

The extensive midden deposits and preserved soil horizons protected from modern plough damage by the medieval headland provide a detailed resource for examining fragmentation, disposal practices and the use of open space. Trend surface analysis of the assemblages contained in these well-preserved deposits offers an opportunity to model material loss and distribution over those areas that survived less well.

The presence of functionally distinctive zones, also an indicator of urbanism, demonstrates that, at an early stage, the settlement operated as a whole rather than the traditional view of shifting farmsteads. This traditional view in any case requires re-examination in the light of current ceramic research, in which some of the Middle-Saxon ceramics are being pushed earlier and earlier in date thereby constraining the development phases, at sites such as West Stow, to within an increasingly limited time span (see also 2.6, 3.6.4, 3.6.5, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.14, 4.15 and 6.5.6).

7.1.5 Medieval To examine the evidence for the Rig and Furrow and particularly its date of creation.

The establishment of the Rig and Furrow field system following the demise of the settlement was accompanied by a re-alignment of the main watercourse along a man-made channel. It is important to establish at what date this occurred as it may have a bearing on the analysis of the extensive spreads of material that remained relatively well preserved under the field headland which ran from north to south across the western half of the settlement (see also, 3.7).

7.2 Thematic Research Objectives

7.2.1 Environment and economy To explore the evidence for agriculture and diet

We have good evidence for an in-depth study of Anglo-Saxon agriculture, including animal and crop husbandry, evidence that should also allow us to look at temporal change. Diet can likewise be approached. The sheer visibility of so much animal bone tends to give an impression of a large volume of meat consumption, and yet the number of features which can be identified as cooking places is minimal. Examination of the faunal assemblage will allow us to determine the relative roles of the different domesticated species in traction, milk and wool production and as part of the diet. Where we have cooking pits their distribution argues for occasional rather than regular use, perhaps indicating that meat was not the principal dietary component. There is already some evidence for the use of some parts of the site for animal and crop processing. Evidence from the soil micro-morphological studies points towards other areas being used for stock wintering. The plant-macrofossil evidence points to key crop production areas being located to the north of the site rather than the Wolds to the south. There are temporal variations in the plant assemblages; these may also be reflected in the faunal remains. The importance of the faunal evidence cannot be overstated; it is a very large resource, which deserves comparison with both the earlier and later assemblages from York and that from Flixborough, which is contemporary with the later activity at Heslerton. The high quality of the spatial component of the record and the high degree of variability across the site, both in material and burial environment, will allow us to examine aspects such as fragmentation, survival and disposal practices in a way and at a scale that has never before been possible (see also 2.5.1, 2.6.1, 3.8, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5 and 4.7). To explore the evidence for craft, industry and short distance trade

There is plentiful evidence in the form of metal-working furnaces and slags that indicate some degree of metal-working was taking place; so far it appears mostly to relate to smithing rather than smelting. Likewise the identification of a malt-kiln with huge quantities of carbonised barley points towards the production of beer. Ceramics and worked bone items must have been made on site, but others appear to have been traded over some distance, as indicated by the preliminary fabric analysis. The evidence for wool production, a frequent theme with reference to sites of this type, is considerable, but we need to be careful in assessing this to determine whether here we are seeing spinning and weaving for domestic consumption or for a trade surplus. The relative infrequency of long-distance trade items, beyond the lava querns, may indicate that production was primarily for local consumption. We need to examine the various craft/industrial activities in relation to the technology applied, the potential scale of production and therefore the potential for a surplus. The homogeneity of Early Anglo-Saxon architecture implies a well-established communications network and yet clearly identified groups of trade items are limited, such that it is tempting to see the site as somewhat isolated but incorporating a well-travelled elite (see also 3.7, 4.1, 4.10, 4.15 and 6.5.4). To explore the transition from Roman to Saxon and that from Early to Middle Saxon, both periods of large scale settlement shift and re-organisation, in the context of larger re-organisation of the landscape

Particularly as a result of the excavations undertaken in 1995, our ability to examine the evidence of continuity from Roman to Saxon and the nature of the settlement desertion have been radically altered. The evidence now points to the survival of the settlement for longer than originally envisaged, and whilst we will be able to map the decline of the settlement more accurately, with its ultimate demise at the time when the Viking raids were at their greatest, the precise details of how the desertion came about may remain simply a matter of interpretation (see also 2.6.12,, 3.6.1, 3.6.2, 3.7, 4.1, 4.3, 4.9, 4.10, 6.5.1 and 6.5.6). To explore aspects of the social reconstruction of the settlement and compare and contrast the domestic and funerary evidence

During the last three decades a tremendous amount of energy has been devoted towards attempting to define social hierarchy, social distinction and ethnicity in the evidence derived from Early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries. The unique position of West Heslerton with both settlement and contemporary cemetery evidence affords us an opportunity to test the social and ethnic groupings identified in the cemetery against the settlement data. This will require careful model building and testing of the various settlement models against the cemetery data to attempt, for instance, the identification of structural groups to match the spatial groups identified in the cemetery. Although the cemetery represents only part of the life of the settlement, this is an important avenue of research. The apparent continuity of use of the Roman ritual landscape and what appears to be a deliberate separation between the Anglo-Saxon secular zone and the area to the south where the Roman 'shrines' had stood, begs important questions regarding the Anglo-Saxon attitude to this part of the site and to the possibility of continuity and control of ritual space. Structural and materials analysis may offer research avenues towards identifying varying status as reflected by structure type, structure grouping and the presence of high status items or evidence of different diet. In order to pursue this research avenue, we must be sure to complete the assemblage analysis and detailed phasing of the site (see also,, 3.6.1, 3.6.4, 3.6.5, 3.7, 4.14, 4.15 and 6.5.6). To compare and contrast West Heslerton with national and continental examples to identify and test models of morphology and sequence

There is clearly a need to draw together the multiple strands of data from West Heslerton for inter-site analyses. The evidence demands both a re-assessment of the nature of Early Anglo-Saxon settlement in England and comparative analyses with the contemporary continental sites. Differences and similarities between the national and continental sites should provide the raw material for an investigation of the special nature of Anglo-Saxon settlement. By comparing morphological and sequence models rather than structures and material culture items alone we can compare not only the components within sites but also the development process (see also, 2.6.2, 3.6.4 and 6.5.6).

7.3 Methodological To characterise the archaeological deposits in order to assist in the identification of other sites worthy of long term preservation

The quality, quantity and spatial referencing of the data recovered are exceptional. Although a detailed field-walking programme was not possible prior to the start of excavation, frequent surface examination of the areas in question provided no evidence of what lay beneath. A remarkable series of geophysical surveys undertaken both by the AML and the West Heslerton team produced magnificent results, which can be compared with the excavated data to assist in future interpretation. By re-sampling from the recovered data, we may be in a position to show the sorts of assemblages that might be recovered from field-walking and sample trench digging. By drawing upon all the data, including soils and site location, we may be able to offer a predictive model for identifying other sites more worthy of long-term preservation. Such a morphological model could be tested relatively quickly and cheaply, perhaps through a small follow-up project (see also 2.6.1, 3.2, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8 and 6.5.6). To analyse archaeological assemblages that might assist in the identification and dating of other similar sites with smaller data-sets

The overall assemblage is of a scale that allows us to examine aspects such as fragmentation, residuality and survival in a way that may improve our understanding and ability to interpret small sampled data-sets derived from evaluation work and results of field-walking surveys (see also 3.7, 3.8 and 4). Data recovery and excavation techniques

One aspect of West Heslerton, the methods of data recovery and documentation, is so fundamental to our ability to undertake such a large scale and multivariate analysis that this deserves publication in its own right. Many of the techniques and approaches to data management and analysis have emerged in response to the developing data-set; a process which will doubtless continue to develop during the analytical process. The special problems arising out of the difficulties in dating the evidence recovered require a much more synthetic approach to the analysis, drawing together all the evidential strands to work on collective assemblages which combine material culture and environmental evidence (see also 2.5, 2.6.8, 2.6.9 and 3.2). Sampling

The spatial variation across the site and the high degree of spatial data in the record require careful analysis to enable us to interpret the nature of the whole complex as well as its individual parts. The potential for using these data to undertake a series of sampling experiments should not be overlooked, and the ability to apply many different sampling schemes rapidly to the recorded data will allow us to evaluate and verify the potential of such approaches within the broader context of rescue archaeology. Preliminary experiments indicate that if a 10% random sampling approach had been adopted we may have been led into excavations which would have completely omitted much of the area covered by post-hole structures, as well as possibly missing the southern part of the site altogether (see also 2.6.2, 2.6.8, 2.6.9, 3.2 and 4).

7.4 Other Issues

Other issues arise as a result of the volume of data recovered. For instance, how should we deal with the long-term curation of the hundreds of boxes of animal bone? If we are to see this material discarded following the analytical programme, then it is essential that we recover the best record we can so that future questions can be asked of the data. There is a very real risk that Hull Museum may feel that they cannot store such a large body of faunal material. One alternative would be to deposit this material in a faunal research centre in a university, where it could form part of a long-term teaching and research collection. The whole question of discard policy should be addressed as part of the analytical programme, both in terms of what physically happens to the faunal archive, for instance, in the longer term but also addressed from the point of reviewing retrieval and sampling techniques and policies.

In any large archaeological project mistakes and misinterpretations come to light, and it is important that these be discussed and the lessons learned are presented, in order to minimise the risk of others following similar unproductive avenues or adopting unsuccessful methods. The transient and non-linear nature of the whole interpretative process, in which a single feature or find can completely change our area of concentration, is one of the things that makes fieldwork so enjoyable; this likewise needs to be addressed, even if it is only through summary publications on the Internet during the analytical process.

The contextual and holistic approach that will be a key to the success of the analytical programme provides an ideal vehicle for collective and individual research. Each of the data-sets recovered contains important potential for specialist publication beyond the context of this site, and it is hoped that the specialists will take the opportunity to use the data to address issues of more specialist than site-specific importance. The cost of gathering the data was considerable but minuscule compared to what would have been required had hundreds of volunteers not contributed their efforts for only minimal return. The costs of undertaking the analysis will likewise be considerable but should be considered within the context of the improbability of collecting a similarly large and complete data-set in the foreseeable future.

7.5 Data Requiring Further Work Prior to Final Analysis

Data and analytical requirements relating to three areas could not be fully addressed during the assessment process. In the case of dating it was felt that without completion of the initial stratigraphic analysis and residuality checks it would be impossible to provide a clearly argued request for specific dates. Following discussions with the AML, it was agreed to address this issue once preliminary phasing is complete. In the case of the human skeletal material the quantities are quite small, and since important evidence from children's skeletal material has been identified during the examination of the animal bone it was felt that this would best be assessed once the preliminary animal bone work is completed to ensure the human bone assemblage is complete. (Simon Mays of the AML has kindly offered to undertake a full assessment of the material and since this is a fairly small component he expects to complete the analysis himself over a short period of 10 days.) The last area, the assessment and analysis of the coprolites, was undertaken some time ago by a research student who is no longer available to carry out further analysis. There was insufficient time for comparative analysis of new material recovered during the autumn of 1995 and it is proposed that this aspect of the work be reviewed as the analytical programme progresses.

7.5.1 Scientific dating Radiocarbon

The whole question of 14C dating could not be addressed in the assessment because, without a really firm prior grasp of the overall stratigraphic and materials sequence, it would have been impossible to identify a representative sequence of contexts to submit for dating. It is fortunate that so many articulated animal skeletons were recovered, as they offer an excellent opportunity to recover good dating material. Reasonable quantities of charcoal and carbonised plant remains also offer some potential for 14C dating. It has always been argued that, for much of the site, the phasing will be a product of the analysis and not a condition for it. If we are not to waste resources, then aspects of the work such as 14C dating should be reviewed during the analytical process once sufficient work has been undertaken to define those contexts which would most clearly benefit from 14C dating.

It is proposed that the project team will, in consultation with the AML, attempt to construct a dating strategy, which addresses as many of the dating objectives as cost-effectively as possible. Inevitably, and particularly in a case such as this, where we could be pushing at the frontiers of what is currently possible using radiocarbon, the constraints of what is technically feasible will not make this easy. The precision possible from 14C dates from the period concerned is not brilliant - within 50 years (at 95% confidence) - however, when viewed as a part of a broader strategy combining stratigraphic and material culture, evidence should allow us to address important points in the development sequence. A multi-level strategy will be required to address dating problems at a variety of different precisions in order to establish the chronological sequence. In some cases simply knowing the century during which a feature is actively filling will be important; this may be the case in the case of some of the Grubenhäuser, which are generally perceived to contain material deposited over a short time span following destruction of the structure. A more important potential is to use a 14C sequence to provide a degree of independent testing for the assemblage groupings identified in the analysis. Should it be possible to isolate a series of good, large, samples interleaved into the stratigraphic sequence, half century dates would be of considerable benefit as these may provide an opportunity to look at the broader dynamics of activity levels at the site. Multivariate assemblage analysis will help us identify particular assemblage compositions, which may provide, in association with the stratigraphic data, the basic framework for the phasing of the site. Assemblage composition, however, may be determined by many factors other than chronology and some degree of independent testing is required to validate the chronological integrity of the key assemblages identified. Questions regarding the date of the prehistoric cremations or the possible Neolithic mortuary structure can be broadly resolved should there be sufficient dateable material. There is clearly a need to define fully the radiocarbon strategy early in the analytical process to ensure that sufficient time is allowed for the impact of such dates to be properly assimilated into the report, but this process cannot be begun until the full stratigraphic sequencing is complete. Dendrochronology

A single, high-precision, date (AD 724) has been identified as the date at which the oak used as lining in a well or spring pool was cut down. Jennifer Hillam has already prepared a report; this may require a little reworking in the light of the analytical results. Archaeomagnetic dating

A number of archaeomagnetic dates were collected from furnace bases, but were found to be either too disturbed or simply not precisely dateable beyond that they were likely to be from Anglo-Saxon and not Roman features, something more simply demonstrated on a stratigraphic basis. A short report on this work undertaken by Paul Linford (AML) will be required for the publication.

7.5.2 Human skeletal material

Both prehistoric and some Anglian contexts produced quantities of human skeletal material. In the case of the Anglian features much of this material is from the skeletons of children whose bodies were apparently discarded in the Grubenhäuser; other fragments could only realistically be extracted once the full check on the finds has been completed. It is proposed that this material be submitted for independent assessment once the preliminary recording of the animal bone is completed, and any further fragments can be identified. The total quantity in any case is small, comprising less than 20 cremations and a few fragmentary inhumations. Simon Mays (AML) will fully assess this material (see above 7.5).

7.5.3 Evidence from coprolites

The initial coprolite study was undertaken some time ago and the author is currently unavailable. Since the coprolites are an important potential environmental resource, Richard Macphail has offered to provide assistance in the examination of further samples. Should they prove to contain enough pollen for analysis, then we propose to consult with David Weir of the AML to see if this material could be made the subject of a special study. Should further sampling be deemed necessary at this stage, then material can be extracted for immediate study at the beginning of the analytical programme. The examination of the coprolites for dietary evidence could contribute important evidence in attempting to reconstruct aspects of agriculture as well as health of both the human and animal population. In the absence of Gordon Hill, who undertook the initial study of the samples reported here, this study area will have to be reviewed separately; the assistance of the AML may be required to ensure that this valuable resource is not omitted. Given the duration of the overall work programme this aspect of the work should be discussed during the initial project review (see also 4.6 and 4.7).


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