2.0 Structural evidence

[Figure 2 - the excavated features]
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Figure 2: part of the excavated features

2.1 Description

The site was discovered at the corner of a stripped area. At first only pit F41 (see Figure 2) was exposed, which was oval (98cm by 90cm), with near vertical sides and a flat base. It was possible to identify three different fills in the pit, the upper and lower fills, F40 and F45, separated by a narrow band of brown sand, F44 (Figure 3). The fills contained hazelnut shells and pieces of worked flint. Amongst the flint were blades, cores and microliths.

[Figure 3 - pit section]
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Figure 3: section across pit F41 from the north-west

During the investigation of pit F41, flint flakes and fragments of carbonised hazelnut shells were discovered some 4m to the north-east of the pit at the edge of the area stripped of topsoil. The topsoil had not been completely removed in this area and this allowed hand excavation of the lower part of the ploughsoil, revealing F46 (see Figure 2), a layer of dark brown loam, rich in flint material and hazelnut shell. Its upper surface had been disturbed by ploughing, but the layer was clearly confined to an oval area, 2.2m by 2.5m. It was up to 8cm thick in the middle, but thinner towards the edges. As this part of the site was just outside the area affected by the development, only a narrow buffer zone 0.5 to 1m wide was cleared in order to establish the full extent of the layer.

Once F46 had been removed, a series of cut features were exposed (Figure 4). The most striking of these was a curving line of seven pits (F63, F65, F72, F86, F84, F82 and F67). These covered an arc of just under 180° of a circle, 2m in diameter. The pits differed in shape and size, from 10cm to 28cm deep, and 20cm to 42cm wide. The deepest pits were in the middle and southern part of the arc: F72; F86; and F65. Opposite the curving line of pits was a single large cut (F61), some 50cm in diameter and 25cm deep (see Figure 4, bottom left corner).

[Figure 4 - site photo]
Figure 4: Showing arc of pits after removal of F46 - seen from the south

A few pits lay outside the arc: one (F70) outside and to the south-east of the arc; and two irregular shallow cuts (F88 and F94) to the north. Four shallow pits (F74, F76, F78 and F80) were located inside the northern part of the arc. These lay on the east side of a small oval area of reddish subsoil (F68), 40cm by 30cm. The red colour is likely be caused by heat and this feature may therefore represent the position of a small hearth. A shallow linear cut (F92) ran north-west to south-east to the west of the arc, possibly the remains of a shallow drain.

During the excavation of the 'occupation' layer F46, it was not possible to establish the relationship between this layer and the pits and cuts exposed after its removal, despite a baulk section which crossed pit F86. The first impression, that the layer sealed the underlying cuts, could not be substantiated, and it is likely that the clues to this had been obscured by soil processes in the past.

All fills and a 40 litre sample of the occupation layer were collected and brought back to the laboratory where the soil was wet-sieved. All floating material was retained in a 300mm mesh and all the remaining material was washed through a 1mm mesh achieving a near 100% retrieval of flint artefacts and waste. The charred plant remains retrieved from this processing were dominated by hazelnut fragments. A small number of charcoal fragments were also retrieved. Only 22 of these were of sufficient size to be identified. The results are summarized in Table 1 below.

Species: No: Percent:
Betula 3 13%
Corylus 16 72%
Salix 1 5%
Quercus 1 5%
cf Quercus 1 5%
Total 22 100%
Table 1: Identified wood species

Although the numbers are small, Corylus clearly dominates the assemblage. The one piece of Quercus derives from F46, the spread of occupation material at the base of the ploughsoil. It is therefore possible that this fragment stems from the more recent ploughsoil.


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Last updated: Wed Sep 30 1998