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TVAS Update - Autumn 2005

Medieval Buildings at Quedgeley, Gloucester

Evaluation (trial) trenches indicated archaeology was confined to three areas within a large site at the former RAF Quedgeley in Gloucestershire. A strategy was devised which targetted these areas for detailed excavation prior to re-development. The work on these selected areas identified a medieval farming settlement with the remains of two buildings surrounded by a network of field boundaries which were reorganized on at least one occasion. The buildings were constructed with limestone rubble footings, which would have supported lighter walls made from wood or cob (a mix of clay, gravel and straw commonly used for rural buildings in the area).

for Entec UK Ltd

Saxon Wallingford

TVAS has been particularly active over recent years in the Saxon and medieval borough of Wallingford, located on the banks of the Thames in Oxfordshire. Several projects in the last few years have examined different aspects of the town, from the central layout to the earliest defences which formed part of King Alfred’s programme of defence against the Danes.

In one recent project, a small excavation was carried out prior to construction of new classrooms at a primary school. The original construction of the school revealed 11 Saxon inhumation burials with further burials, both inhumations and cremations, coming to light in the 1920s and 1930s. Further burials were therefore anticipated in this project.

During the fieldwork human bones were discovered in a small grave cut into the base of a ditch. These were the remains of an infant, perhaps 2 to 6 months old, buried without any grave goods. A second deposit comprised a pottery urn but did not contain any burial remains.

for Oxfordshire County Council

Ibsley Quarry, Ringwood

Ongoing fieldwork at Ibsley Quarry in the Avon Valley just north of Ringwood, Hampshire has recorded further evidence of Bronze Age and Roman settlement and land use in the valley. Excavations taking place over several hectares of gravel terrace have revealed a number of Bronze Age post-built round houses, four-post storage structures, ring ditches representing levelled burial mounds and various other rubbish pits and postholes. An uncommon and exciting discovery was that of a small hoard of bronze metalwork comprising a decorated bracelet and two axes.

The focus of Roman occupation has not yet been identified but a range of boundary features, rubbish pits and a stone-lined well have been unearthed.

for Tarmac Southern

TVAS Consultancy

The excavations described above document the final stages of archaeological intervention in development projects where there was no realistic practical alternative to the excavation and recording of archaeological deposits. Yet a significant proportion of our work takes place where the alternatives to complex and time-consuming full excavation can be developed. For example, the archaeology within our historic towns and cities is rich and complex and excavation is often difficult to integrate with construction programmes. The two examples described here document projects where informed design was used to facilitate redevelopment, but with minimal effects of the necessary groundworks on buried archaeological deposits.

Bathwick, Bath

Bathwick is a suburb of the historic Roman and Georgian city of Bath and the importance of the city has been highlighted with its designation as a World Heritage Site. Archaeology and heritage are clearly significant issues in any redevelopment proposals within the city.

The site at Bathwick was beyond the Roman town walls, but as an initial desktop study indicated, within an area used both for extra-mural settlement and burial in Roman times. Field evaluation (trial trenching) provided two key pieces of information to inform the design plans. Firstly, it found no evidence of human burial and therefore the strictures of the Burial Act did not apply. Secondly it showed that the significant archaeological deposits were deeply buried by fairly modern dump deposits. A scheme was therefore drawn up whereby the main components of the foundation design were kept above archaeologically sensitive levels. The necessary deep foundations, which had to impact the archaeologically significant levels were kept to a bare minimum. This design, incorporating only a minimal requirement for archaeological monitoring of superficial deposits, allowed a planning consent to be obtained and provided protection for the heritage of one of the country’s most historic cities.

for Rectory Homes

Mistrals, Little Minster Street, Winchester

Unlike the Bathwick project, the site of the former Minstrals bar lies in the historic heart of the city of Winchester, which has a well documented history of more or less uninterrupted urban settlement from late Iron Age times to the present day. This history is represented by the formation of archaeological layers several metres thick with modern deposits overlying.

For this site, the archaeological potential was not in doubt as part of the site had been investigated when the basement for Minstrals had been built in the 1970s. In this instance, field evaluation was able to confirm the survival of archaeological deposits on other parts of the site and again provided information as to the depth at which significant deposits were first encountered. The evaluation also confirmed the survival of Roman deposits beneath the floor of the existing basement.

A similar design solution to Bathwick was employed with the main components of the foundation design kept above the archaeologically significant levels and with deep foundations, which impacted these levels kept to a minimum. A small archaeological watching brief was maintained on superficial groundworks. The opportunity was also taken to excavate in the positions to be occupied by deep piles located within the old basement area, as unusually, on this occasion, these archaeological levels were accessible. This fieldwork revealed the presence of Roman floor surfaces with early prehistoric deposits beneath.

for Bach Homes

Click on the image thumbnails below for larger versions:

Medieval buildings at Quedgeley, Gloucestershire. Saxon inhumation burial in Wallingford, Oxfordshire.

A Roman stone-lined well at Ibsley Quarry, Ringwood, Hampshire. Excavating the small hoard of bronze metalwork at Ibsely Quarry.

Excavations at Mistrals, Little Minster Street, Winchester.