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The 1995 Season

Now that an enclosure with early medieval activity had been identified, it was essential to establish whether the features exposed in 1994 represented a building, and assess the degree of preservation on the site - whether further evidence for structures or activities might be found.

The main excavation in 1995 lay within the enclosure identified in 1994. An area measuring 20 x 30m (Trench 'H') was opened, extending the small L-shaped trench excavated in the previous year. A further extension to the west provided a cross-section across the enclosure ditch.

The earliest phase of activity in Trench 'H' was represented by flint scatters. Preliminary examination suggested a possible date range of Mesolithic to Early Bronze Age. A large number of shallow features, including two curvilinear gullies, and clusters of small pits or post holes, was recorded. The fills of a number of these features contained bone, flint, and coarse quartz-tempered handmade pottery, some of which is late Neolithic in character (c.3000 BC).

Evidence for Roman activity in the general vicinity of the enclosure field included a rimsherd of late Roman Oxford colour-coated bowl, and a small fragment of bluish-green Roman glass. Previous Roman activity was represented by a first/second-century brooch found in 1983 during ditch cleaning at the bottom (southern) end of the field, a clipped siliqua of Honorius dated c.400 from the top of the field and a barbarous radiate in the western part of the field.

The early medieval phase of activity was represented by a series of large rectangular structures occupying the northern half of the trench. The walls of Building 1 originally had carefully set, unbonded limestone footings. A stone-lined and capped drain, with a rock-cut bottom, ran in a straight line diagonally across what may be the interior of the building. for a distance of about 7m.

Immediately to the east of Building 1, lay another rectangular structure (Building 2), orientated approximately east-west. As in the case of Building 1, its complete plan was uncertain, as the eastern end continued beyond the trench. Building 2 appeared to have at least two phases: an original timber phase represented by large post holes about 2m apart, forming a straight sided ?north wall; a second phase, on a slightly different alignment, comprising a continuous dry stone wall footing, which probably carried a wooden superstructure. A significant amount of daub with wattle impressions was recovered from the site and was thought to have been derived from these structures. Building 2 was about 8 m in width and at least 12 m in length. The post-hole excavated in 1994, which produced a radiocarbon date of AD 635-1005 (Beta-77211, 1240 +/- 100 BP), appeared to have been located in the upper fill of a rock-cut drain in the centre of this structure.

An area of black earth near the western perimeter of the Trench 'H' was associated with a concentration of stone paving, possibly a stone hearth setting, but ploughing had removed evidence of any walls. Finds from the black earth within the building supported a tenth-century date.

A transect across the enclosure ditch confirmed that it was rock cut and shallow on the north-west side of the enclosure, having a similar profile to the first section examined in 1994. No evidence was found at this point for a palisade or bank.

Finds from the excavation included lead weights and spindle whorls for spinning yarn; a lead finger ring; fragments of bone comb; bone knife handles; bone points/awls and a bone spindle; iron and copper alloy buckle plates; a copper alloy ring from a ringed pin with plain pin head of hinged annular form and circular cross-section; iron nails and roves; iron knives, some with 'angle-back' forms; fragments of rotary quernstone; glass beads of mellon and plain form and a stone line sinker. A small fragment of hack-silver with punched ornament from a silver arm-ring of Hiberno-Viking type was also found.

The interpretation of the 1995 season (as published)

"Complete excavation of the buildings is needed before their function and plan are fully understood. These structures lay within an enclosure ditch which appears to have been operational during the same period. However, the 1994 geophysical survey suggests that several ditches or phases may have existed.

The earliest phases of activity on the site have still be be studied and assessed. The buildings appear to be primarily of tenth-century date, and the ditched enclosure has produced evidence for both farming, craft activity, and trade. Large quantities of animal bone and quernstones point to an agricultural component to the economy of the site; globules of bronze and crucible knob to bronze working. There are also suggestions of iron forging and antler working, traditional Norse or native activities. The hack-silver, weights and coins point to mercantile activity.

An octant of the mound first investigated in 1994 was stripped of topsoil, and the underlying clays and bedrock cleaned. This examination confirmed that the rise was a natural outcrop; no further archaeological features were identified."

Dr Mark Redknap

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