September 5, 2018
University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) are very busy in the City, County and beyond. In Leicester work continues to be concentrated in the north-west of the historic core. On Bath Lane the Merlin Works site continues to reveal intriguing archaeology between areas of modern disturbance. Substantial stone walls indicate an important Roman building complex seen in previous excavations to the south. A circular stone building was built in the corner of two straight walls. Its use is uncertain but may be a plunge bath in a large baths building. In the north-east corner of the site a small area of well-preserved archaeology includes 3 rooms including a partially robbed hypocaust with partially preserved pilae stacks. Not too far away on All Saints Road around 140 burials have been lifted, half of which have come from multiple graves, the biggest of which had 21 burials. These are medieval but have yet to be more closely dated. Presumably plague or famine is indicated. The burials lie north of a building that partly lies under the modern road and may well be St Clements Church. Work continues to fully understand the town defences in the area. Walls and ditches have been recorded but there is some uncertainty how they link up. Four late Roman inhumation burials, one with grave goods, have been excavated, while a Roman masonry building with in-situ box flue tiles has been recorded. A little to the north on a site bounded by Northgates and Soar Lane, and outside the town walls, was a well preserved medieval building, some 5m across and over 9m long with a plaster floor and clay, masonry and mud walls. A series of hearths were recorded. This was probably a timber framed building fronting Northgates. A second property to the south was separated by a narrow alleyway. Closer to the town wall were Roman buildings with solid opus signinum floors. External walls were of stone and internal walls were of clay.
Across the city, work at Clarence Street revealed evidence of truncated Roman timber buildings dating to the first half of the second century. At Castle Street evaluation revealed a very disturbed site with the possible siting of the castle’s bailey ditch.
In the county, at Brooksby a sub-rectangular enclosure, a ring gully and linear features were associated with Iron Age pottery and form part of a larger settlement. Glass beads associated with ashes suggest an Anglo-Saxon cremation. More Lower Palaeolithic finds continue to be recovered. At Lockington Quarry pits and post holes were thought to be Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age and there were pits with much ash, charcoal and heated stones. The northern part of the site contained a trackway and two intercutting droveways, the latest of which was medieval in date. At Peatling Magna a strip, map and record exercise revealed ditches, pits and post holes of Late Saxon and medieval date including what appeared to be a trackway. At Wigston evaluation revealed a spread of features including a possible droveway, a gravel trackway, ditches, gullies, pits and postholes associated with 1st and 2nd century Roman material.
Allen Archaeology are excavating a very large Iron Age site on the edge of Market Harborough. The site is bounded by ditches but is not a hillfort although it is on a prominent hilltop site. A reasonably even scatter of enclosures and ring gullies is spread across the site associated mostly with East Midlands scored ware. There appears to be some Late Bronze Age material and there is, in the midst of the site, a scatter of cremation burials, also possibly Bronze Age. One crouched inhumation burial was, regrettably, disturbed by a ‘nighthawk’.
Albion Archaeology are excavating an Iron Age landscape on the edge of Market Harborough this includes enclosures for stock rearing and management as well as occupation. This was replaced by a much more rectilinear Roman farmstead site with an aisled building. This appears to date from 2nd to 4th centuries.
Cotswold Archaeology are excavating next to Watling Street near Hinckley. This has revealed a Roman period ditch parallel to Watling Street, a pit alignment and a Roman period rectilinear farmstead of mid to late Roman date.
SLR Consulting have found some Iron Age material at Desford Brickworks; Commercial Archaeology have excavated a prehistoric linear feature at Gilmorton; Headland Archaeology are evaluating at Stretton en le Field and 2 rectangular enclosures have been found; Warwickshire Archaeology are excavating an Iron Age double ditched enclosure at South Kilworth; and Oxford Archaeology have found a single ditch with Roman pottery near Leicester Forest East.