Archaeology at Earth Trust Visitor Centre 2018 - Assessment Report

Skills and Learning Building, Archaeological Strip, Map and Sample

Fieldwork was undertaken in October 2018 to address the extent of Neolithic, Iron Age and Roman activity ahead of building development at the Earth Trust Visitor Centre in Little Wittenham. The work was conducted in the area immediately east of the existing office building where a scout hut had previously stood. This fieldwork follows a watching brief conducted in July 2018 during the demolition of the scout hut. The scout hut, along with several trees and shrubs were removed to make way for the development of the Skills and Learning Building. During the watching brief, no archaeological remains were disturbed. In October 2018, the footprint of the former scout hut and nearby area was subject to an archaeological strip, map and sample excavation. Trench 1, roughly rectangular in shape and approximately 30m long and 15m wide, was machine-excavated down to the first archaeological horizon. The trench was then hand-excavated, with archaeological features clarified, excavated and recorded. All data was recorded by project archaeologists using a web accessible relational database. This is housed on the project microsite and can be explored by following the links shown in green font throughout the report. The earliest archaeological feature encountered was a Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age pit in the southeast part of the site. The majority of features investigated dated to the Early or Middle Iron Age with a noticeable lack of material dating to the Late Iron Age. Evidence for Roman activity on the site was particularly scarce and is only represented through a small number of features and a limited number of artefacts. Similarly, the occurrence of medieval and post-medieval features was also limited. Special deposits of pottery were found in three Iron Age pits. These pits contained very large assemblages of pottery in good condition, including near-complete vessels and a decorated bowl. Additionally, part of an Iron Age cremation was identified in the upper fills of one of the backfilled storage pits. Overall, the excavation suggests that the Iron Age settlement in the area may have been more comprehensive than originally believed. While the full extent is still unknown, it is likely that there are further storage pits to the east and north of the site.

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