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Land South-West of Exeter Alphington Devon

Latham, Alexandra Land South-West of Exeter Alphington Devon. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Oxford Archaeology carried out a 51 trench evaluation at Land South-West of Exeter, Alphington, Devon for CgMs, on behalf of Bovis Homes. The site is situated on hillsides to the south-west of the River Exe. The evaluation was completed in two stages: Phase 1 (October-November 2013) comprised 13 trenches in the vicinity of a scheduled barrow cemetery in the northern part of the site and Phase 2 (February- March 2014) comprised 38 trenches in the remainder of the development area. This report details the results of both phases. Most of the trenches were targeted to investigate features identified through geophysical survey or as cropmarks on aerial photographs. Archaeological features were found as predicted in the majority of trenches, although a few trenches contained features not detected by the geophysical surveys. The evaluation was largely successful in establishing the presence/absence, extent, conditions, nature, character and quality of archaeological and palaeo-environmental remains encountered. However, the date of many of the features remains uncertain as they had no associated artefacts and could not be dated on stratigraphic or morphological grounds. On the basis of feature morphology and the very sparse artefacts, it is possible to provisionally suggest four broad phases of activity spread across six defined 'sites', although definition of the 'sites' is not clear-cut, given the poor dating evidence and the dispersed nature of both the funerary and settlement evidence. Early Bronze Age: Activity attributed to this period comprised the scheduled barrow cemetery and two further ring ditches interpreted as small plough-levelled round barrows ('Site 1' on Fig. 2). Cremated human bone was recovered from one of the ring ditches, but no datable artefacts were recovered from either. In the absence of scientific dating at this stage, the barrow cemetery is assumed to belong to the early Bronze Age on morphological grounds. Middle Bronze Age: This phase includes a rectilinear enclosure ditch, which may be associated with a more extensive series of tracks or field boundaries, located in the broadly same area as the barrow cemetery (Site 2). These enclosures may represent a phase of settlement post-dating the funerary use of the cemetery. The rectilinear enclosure ditch contained a deliberately buried pot. A separate site c600m to the east comprised a penannular ditch that was interpreted as the remains of a roundhouse (Site 3). The middle Bronze Age features are dated on the basis of the distinctive prehistoric pottery ('Trevisker'-related ware) found in small quantities in association with them. Late Iron Age-Roman period: The third recognisable phase comprises dispersed evidence for late Iron and Roman settlement and field systems, identified through a combination of cropmark evidence, geophysical surveys and trial trenches. The main concentration of features was located in the north-western part of the evaluation area and comprised a complex of ditched enclosures that probably represent a farmstead (Site 4). A feature interpreted as the eaves-drip gully around a roundhouse was situated within a rectilinear enclosure, around which were further boundaries on similar alignments that probably enclosed paddocks and fields. A curving feature with a rubble fill may be the foundation for a second, stone-founded, roundhouse. A penannular feature in the south-eastern part of the area is interpreted on morphological grounds as the foundation trench of a roundhouse in an apparently isolated location (Site 5). A hearth group (Site 6) is tentatively interpreted as a charcoal-burning site, and is provisionally placed in the Roman phase on the basis of a single very small fragment of pottery. If the pottery is intrusive or incorrectly dated, a medieval or post-medieval date would be equally likely. Medieval/ post-medieval: This phase is represented by poorly dated agricultural field boundaries, generally dated on the basis of their depiction on historic maps. No settlement foci of this period were identified in the trenches. It is likely that some of the extant historically documented post-medieval farms in the vicinity have medieval origins.

Item Type:Client Report
Subjects:Geographical Areas > English Counties > Devon
Period > UK Periods > Bronze Age 2500 - 700 BC
Period > UK Periods > Medieval 1066 - 1540 AD
Period > UK Periods > Post Medieval 1540 - 1901 AD
Period > UK Periods > Roman 43 - 410 AD
ID Code:4592
Deposited By: Scott
Deposited On:17 Jan 2019 14:03
Last Modified:17 Jan 2019 14:03

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