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Roman Settlement Remains on Land off St Michael's Way, Wenhaston, Suffolk: Full Report

Clarke, Graeme (2017) Roman Settlement Remains on Land off St Michael's Way, Wenhaston, Suffolk: Full Report. Project Report. Oxford Archaeology Ltd., Bar Hill. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Between the 8th April and 28th May 2015 Oxford Archaeology East (OA East) carried out excavations at Land off St Michael's Way, Wenhaston with Mells Hamlet; the site of a putative Roman small town. A full excavation (preservation by record) was carried out of the 1.5 hectare development area. An archaeological evaluation of the site was conducted by NPS Archaeology in 2013 that identified significant Roman remains including possible 'dark earth' deposits in the eastern part of the site. Confirming the evidence of substantial metalwork and other surface find assemblages recovered from the surrounding fields. The excavation demonstrated the presence of extensive Roman settlement remains. In addition, many Roman metalwork artefacts were recovered from the excavation of the overlying topsoil and subsoil, and the tertiary fill of a palaeochannel that led from a spring towards the valley of the River Blyth. The coin assemblage is indicative of special deposition, rather than casual loss, while the range of other metalwork artefacts recovered, which includes a relatively large number of brooches and a miniature votive sword, may indicate the presence of a possible shrine/sanctuary in the close vicinity. The settlement remains span the Middle Roman period (c. AD150-300) but appear to predominantly belong to the 2nd century AD. A regular system of ditched plot boundaries extended across the higher/flatter ground in the western part of the site. Within the central part of the site settlement remains focused on a spring, where palaeochannel deposits found equate to the 'dark earth' deposits encountered in the evaluation. An enclosure and two further ditched boundaries were revealed around a set of large pits, representing wells, and a watering-hole sunk into the perched water-table of the spring. The remains of three post-built structures were also revealed across the site, along with further pits and related activity. Further excavation was undertaken of the waterlogged deposits within the wells and watering-hole between the 23rd November and 4th December 2015. These investigations revealed timber well lining preserved at the base of one well and deposits of preserved timbers at the base of another well. In addition, Roman pottery recovered from the base of these two wells displays examples of graffiti, including a swastika symbol. Pollen remains (from the well deposits) provide evidence for a possible change in land-use during the Middle Roman period, from arable cultivation to a pastoral regime. Pollen remains are also suggestive of mixed stands of woodland, including beech and lime, either nearby or possibly in gardens within the settlement. Following the pastoral phase the surrounding environment appears to have deteriorated further to a landscape dominated by moorland and scrub vegetation. The remains encountered in this excavation are of local and regional significance. The results provide a context for the substantial artefact scatters previously found in the surrounding fields and give an important insight into the chronology and evolution of the Roman settlement of Wenhaston. The planned nature of the settlement, combined with the artefact assemblages – especially the relatively high levels of samian and other fine ware pottery – combined provide some support for the interpretation of Wenhaston being a small town during the Middle Roman period.

Item Type:Monograph (Project Report)
Uncontrolled Keywords:archaeological excavation, suffolk, suffolk coastal, wenhaston-with-mells, wenhaston, roman, roman town, pottery, roman pottery, samian, terra sigillata, brooch, crossbow brooch, votive, shrine, palaeochannel, boundary ditch, waterlogged, well, coin, roman coin, worked wood, second century, 2nd century
Subjects:Geographical Areas > English Counties > Suffolk
Period > UK Periods > Early Medieval 410 - 1066 AD
Period > UK Periods > Roman 43 - 410 AD
ID Code:3198
Deposited By: Chris Faine
Deposited On:10 May 2017 09:34
Last Modified:10 May 2017 09:34

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