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Archaeological fieldwork throughout Leicestershire

Excavation News Leicestershire

September 5, 2018

Despite the incredibly wet end to 2019 University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) have been in the field with a number of important sites.

At Burnmill Road, Market Harborough an additional area of the large Iron Age and Roman site has been stripped. Occupation activity looks to be noticeably busier in the northeast corner and along the eastern periphery, with some high quality 2nd and 3rd century ceramics. A second inhumation burial was located in the central area. The body, likely a juvenile, was laid prone east-west with the head at the east end and without grave goods.

At Ashton Green a 147-trench evaluation just south of the A46 Western Bypass was adjacent to an area previously excavated. Four new areas of archaeology were found across the site producing evidence of intermittent activity with a scatter of Roman gullies and other features, and two more pit alignments, which align broadly with a double alignment found in the earlier work.

At Pincet Lane, North Kilworth, the excavation has drawn to a close here. This relatively small area is packed with archaeology from fairly recent post-medieval quarry pits, to early Roman ditches and enclosures cutting earlier Iron Age roundhouses, which in turn were built over a much earlier prehistoric circular monument, around 35 metres internal diameter. The outer ditch is around 3m wide and over 2m deep. It probably had an outer bank and may be a henge monument.

Aerial view of excavations at North Kilworth. The square structure is visible in the centre foreground, the large ring ditch (with outer banks) on the left.

Crouched burial in the centre of the ring ditch.

Inside was an inner ring ditch, c.18m in diameter. This appears to have been a structural trench, with evidence for post settings. Within this, and centrally placed, was a crouched human burial. Enough of the bone survived in the acidic soil conditions to make out the ghostly form of the body. No grave goods were placed with the burial, however cutting into the edge of the backfilled grave was a much smaller cut containing two largely complete Beaker vessels (one inverted). This may be a later grave, placed close to the earlier crouched burial. A further burial nearby contained no bone, but did contained another Beaker vessel. Directly to the west of the ring ditch is a linear ditch, of similar large proportions to the circular ditch and possibly Neolithic.

The small square Neolithic structure, a first for Leicestershire.

On the northern edge of the site was a small square structure, consisting of what appears to be thick beam-slots with evidence for post-holes and re-working. Neolithic pottery was recovered from the backfills (along with Iron Age material likely from the later activity). This compares well with other Neolithic structures elsewhere in the country, but is the first of its type identified in Leicestershire.

At Jewry Wall Museum, Leicester work in advance of a new lift shaft allowed the re-examination of a structure identified by Kathleen Kenyon as the foundations of a water tank.

The team at work inside Jewry Wall Museum.

Kathleen Kenyon’s 1930s excavation of the Jewry Wall (left) and a vertical photograph of the area recently re-examined by ULAS.

The new work has revealed medieval and post-medieval pits, unexcavated by Kenyon, as well as the foundations of part of the water tower and new evidence for its construction. More unexpected was a scorched feature, abundant with charcoal, below one of the walls. This pre-dates the structure and it will be interesting to find out by how much.

At Lockington Quarry soil stripping immediately to the south of the Ratcliffe Lane, to the south of a scheduled Iron Age and Romano-British site has exposed new areas of boundary and enclosure ditches, and some discrete pit features: one pit was filled with quantities of fire cracked stone reminiscent of hot stone/burnt mounds, while another contained handmade pottery of probably Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age date.

CFA have been excavating close to the A42 in Stretton en le Field and have found enclosures. There was little dating evidence, but they are thought to be prehistoric.