May 10, 2020
Before the lockdown our friends at ULAS managed, despite the wet weather, to get on with some excavation work, now suspended by the virus. At Shawell Quarry the team finished the excavation of the Iron Age settlement mentioned in the last newsletter and were able to make a good start on the Roman activity close to Watling Street. A fairly well-defined area of Roman enclosures and drainage channels, possibly ribbon development from the Roman small town of Tripontium, was revealed, as had been indicated by geophysical survey. Pottery from the features has largely been spot dated as late 1st to 2nd century. Any potential roadside Roman building activity is under the verge of the A5 and the topsoil bunds for the extraction area.
At Gartree Road, Oadby excavation has revealed what appears to be a large enclosure, which extends eastward beyond the excavated area. Internal features are sparse, but a fairly dense scatter of pits and post-holes and gullies, possibly indicating structures, have been found directly outside the enclosure. Initial excavation has revealed pits that contained dumps of heat affected daub and large pottery sherds, probably 1st century in date.
Plan of the site at Gartree Road, Oadby (top of page: excavation of a Roman pit containing dumps of daub and a large quantity of pottery).
At Lockington Quarry a double pit alignment has been traced an additional 85 metres from where it was recorded in 2011. It then narrows to a single line of pits that turns near to a palaeochannel and continues to the south-west for a further 91m. At the same point as the turn to the south-west, an alignment of small circular double pits continues toward the palaeochannel. As is usual with pit alignments there was little dating evidence, but a prehistoric date is likely and, close to the palaeochannel, peat deposits in the pits may give both environmental and dating evidence. Other features recorded in 2020 have included scattered pits that are undated and further examples of parallel ditches that would appear to define stock routes.
The pit alignment at Lockington Quarry.
Sampling one of the pits in the alignment for pollen from a silty peat fill in the base of the pit.
At MIRA Technology Park a massive soil strip of 33 hectares, included land within the registered boundary of Bosworth Battlefield, continues. Finds have been limited, but include a small curvilinear ditch, some areas of small pits or post holes (all undated), and a number of large infilled features, probably ponds. The work has included the systematic use of metal detector survey on both removed topsoil and remnants of furrows, and from the investigation of the pond fills.
Artefacts recovered from metal detecting range from a silver farthing of Queen Elizabeth I to a £1 coin of Queen Elizabeth II – with most centuries in between represented through buckles and buttons and horseshoes, which included an early example, possibly 15th Century, which came from one of the pond features, close to Fenn Lane.
ULAS are still carrying out some fieldwork where social distancing rules can be enforced but most projects have been suspended for the time being, with staff furloughed or working from home writing up past projects.
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