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A re-investigation of the scientific dating evidence from the hillfort at
Sarah-Jane Clelland and Cathy M Batt
A chronological framework is an integral part of any archaeological interpretation but it is often restricted by the lack of precision in the dates available to the archaeologist. This is a particular problem in the Iron Age, due to the limitations of radiocarbon dating in this period; specifically the period between 700-400BC where the radiocarbon calibration curve provides large errors. Archaeomagnetic dating is predominately a method of dating materials that have been heated in antiquity. Therefore archaeomagnetic studies offer an underexploited opportunity to provide dates for the Iron Age through the study of past geomagnetic field, as recorded by archaeological materials. As with radiocarbon, archaeomagnetic dating requires a calibration curve to provide calendar dates. However, in order to produce a calibration curve it is necessary to assign a calendar date to every magnetic direction used to construct it. One of the main problems with the current method of calibrating magnetic directions is the imprecision of the calendar dates attributed to the magnetic direction determinations used in it. This ongoing research is attempting to improve on the independent dating associated with each data point in the current calibration curve. Unlike radiocarbon dating, there is evidence that the direction of the geomagnetic field was undergoing rapid changes between 700-100BC, so archaeomagnetism should be capable of high resolution dating during this period. This paper describes how evidence from the Iron Age hillfort at Rainsborough is being used to improve the current archaeomagnetic calibration curve for the UK.
Excavation of Iron Age and Roman settlement at Upton, Northampton
Charlotte Walker and Anthony Maull
Excavation at Upton, Northampton prior to residential development located settlement from the late Bronze Age/early Iron Age and continuing through the Iron Age and Roman periods. A small group of isolated pits, radiocarbon dated to the late Bronze Age/early Iron Age, contained a small pottery assemblage and a saddle quern. A short length of a pit alignment was examined. A number of pits contained early/middle Iron Age pottery, but a radiocarbon date centred on the 4th to 3rd centuries BC indicates that the pits, which were unusually deep, were still open into the middle Iron Age. Middle to late Iron Age settlement comprised several enclosures of varying sizes and plan forms, and a possible roundhouse, all set alongside a linear boundary ditch with the same orientation as the pit alignment but lying 50m to the south. The linear boundary was later reinstated slightly to the south of its original line, contemporary with a second phase of enclosure construction. The landscape was re-organised in the early Roman period, the late 1st/early 2nd centuries AD, with the introduction of a rectilinear ditch system and a patchwork of small enclosures, lying largely to the east of the Iron Age settlement and either a satellite of, or peripheral to the ‘small town’ at Duston. Settlement continued through the 3rd century and into the later 4th century. There was a complex palimpsest of rectilinear and more irregular ditched enclosures, and in the early phase there was a pottery kiln and possible workshop, a stone-lined well and two inhumation burials. The material finds are fairly typical for a small rural settlement, although the presence of some finewares and a range of building materials suggest that there was a well appointed household nearby.
[pp. 9-52 + CD]
Anne Foard-Colby and Charlotte Walker
Northamptonshire Archaeology carried out archaeological excavation, prior to development of a sports hall, on 0.18ha of land within a walled garden at Quinton House School, Upton, Northampton. A small group of pits or postholes contained pottery dated to the late Bronze Age/early Iron Age. The continuation of a pit alignment seen in previous excavations to the east was confirmed, although only a single pit lay within the site. Most of a small Iron Age enclosure, probably dating to the later middle Iron Age, was excavated. The enclosure had seen intensive use, containing a circular sub-enclosure, which may have been a roundhouse ring ditch, two small rectangular sub-enclosures and other boundary ditches and scattered postholes and pits, the latter lying mainly close to the enclosure ditch. The pottery assemblage was dominated by large storage jars. The enclosure lies to the west of an area of more extensive contemporary settlement examined in previous excavations, with the Roman town of Duston lying further to the east. A medieval ditch system and an associated hollow-way, dated to the 13th-16th centuries, may lie near the northern end of Upton deserted medieval village. A later medieval stone structure, a stone-lined pit and adjacent wall, were constructed over the filled ditches. A number of quarry pits at the western end of the site produced pottery, clay tobacco-pipes and glass bottles dating from the late 17th to 19th centuries.
An Iron Age pit alignment near Upton, Northampton
A short length of an Iron Age pit alignment, identified by geophysical survey, was excavated by Northamptonshire Archaeology in April 2007 during the construction of the Cross Valley Link Road (CVLR) at Upton, on the western outskirts of Northampton. A small ditch, possibly part of a Roman or medieval field system, and medieval furrows were also identified. In addition, between April and July 2007, an archaeological watching brief was maintained during construction work on the new road and river crossing over the River Nene. No significant archaeological remains were identified within the road corridor, although a sharpened wooden stake/peg, radiocarbon dated to the middle Saxon period, was recovered from beneath a depth of alluvial silt on the edge of a possible river palaeochannel.
An archaeological watching brief at Sywell Aerodrome runway,
Northamptonshire Archaeology carried out an archaeological watching brief during the removal of topsoil prior to the infilling of land to the west of runway 5/31 at Sywell Aerodrome, Sywell, Northamptonshire. For the most part, any archaeological remains would have been sealed beneath subsoil and therefore not visible during the present work. However, in small areas where the subsoil was shallow a number of features were exposed, including a Roman oven with a pitched stone surface, a ditch and two pits. A small assemblage of 1st to 2nd-century Roman pottery was recovered from the oven and ditch. A small number of residual worked flints and a few sherds of medieval pottery were recovered from the subsoil.
The Delapré Roman kiln field, Northampton
A series of eight Roman pottery kilns, dated to the late 1st and early 2nd-centuries, were found unexpectedly during the formation of a defensive bank on the western side of Delapré Park, Northampton near the entrance from the London Road. The material recovered suggests that their production followed that of the Hardingstone kilns, the potters moving closer to a suggested road, a Roman period predecessor of the Northampton to Towcester road. The products are remarkably standardised, but show a very high level of competence in their throwing and firing, and certain characteristics suggesting that pottery production may have been translocated here to facilitate distribution, perhaps to the civil or other official authorities.
A geological review of some early churches in the Northamptonshire area
John F Potter
The importance of geology, stone emplacement and bedding orientation, in six churches in the area of Northamptonshire is examined. These churches, on architectural evidence, have long been recognised as having Anglo-Saxon origins. The examples reveal in all instances the typical Anglo-Saxon, ‘Patterned’ style, which includes the use of vertically-bedded stone orientation in definitive patterns. The detail of the stonework and its bedding orientation provides a significant and further means of identification for work of this period.
Archaeological investigation of land adjacent to ‘The Cottons’, Rockingham
In advance of the erection of several dwellings, near the northern limit of the village of Rockingham, a programme of archaeological investigation was undertaken. The site extended from Main Street in the west to a curving lane, ‘The Cottons’, in the east. The earliest evidence for occupation of the site was a possible prehistoric pit containing an animal burial associated with flint artefacts. A small sherd of late Bronze Age - early Iron Age pottery was also recovered from the site. An indication of Roman activity in the vicinity was implied by the presence of a small assemblage of residual pottery, recovered from the fills of later features. In the medieval period the eastern part of the site was within an arable field, indicated by ridge and furrow earthworks. A ditch separated this area from the land parcel bounding Main Street in the west. In the western land parcel perpendicular ditches with a slightly diverging alignment to the present land boundaries were identified. Pottery and animal bone recovered from the recut northern boundary ditch indicated activity in the vicinity. The majority of the archaeological features identified in the western area were post-medieval or later in date. Most of this area had been disturbed by landscaping associated with construction of a Victorian gas works. However, beneath the disturbance traces of at least one substantial stone building were revealed. This would appear to have been erected in the 17th-18th centuries, a similar date to other buildings in the vicinity. The building, which was probably domestic in function, is not depicted on any surviving historic maps. Traces of two wells, and walls near the street frontage in the western part of the site were also revealed. Until recently the western land parcel was a farm yard, whilst the paddock in the east preserved the ridge and furrow earthworks.
Leather-working at the site of Medieval Cumbergate,
Taleyna Fletcher and Quita Mould
Excavation adjacent to the covered shopping areas of Queensgate Centre and Westgate Arcade in central Peterborough revealed up to 1.6m of archaeological deposits spanning the late medieval period to the present day. The initial phase dated to the early 15th century and included a boundary wall or building to the north, with an adjacent cobbled surface. Later dumps and pits produced a relatively large assemblage of well-preserved leather attributable to the late 14th to early 15th century, perhaps suggesting a cobbler’s workshop in the vicinity. Subsequent post-medieval surfaces were probably associated with the construction and maintenance of Cumbergate. The evidence suggests that the road was created in its documented form after the middle of the 16th century.
A building record was made of Lift Bridge GN5 immediately prior to its dismantling in October 2004. It was built in 1815 as part of the Grand Union Canal, Northampton Arm to enable the farmer, whose land it was built on, to continue access with carts to fields otherwise cut off by the new canal. Although the Lift Bridge was renovated in 1914 and in the 1960s, several of the original iron fittings are thought to have been re-used in the structure.
The 1930s Douglas Garage at 46-50 Sheep Street, Northampton
Michael Webster and Stephen Parry
Northamptonshire Archaeology carried out building recording and analysis, along with desk-based assessment of the former Douglas Garage, 46-50 Sheep Street, Northampton, prior to proposed demolition of existing structures and its redevelopment as dwellings. The buildings mostly date to the construction of a purpose-built garage in 1937, which comprised show rooms and offices at the front with accommodation above and workshops to the rear. Subsequent alterations, particularly to the workshops were also noted. In addition, earlier structures were found to have survived adjoining the property to the north (52 Sheep Street) but too little remained to indicate how the earlier garage, which was established in 1928, operated.
[pp. 165-166 + CD]
The Northamptonshire Portable Antiquities Scheme (Pas), 2008
Northampton, Kingswell Street: Further Thoughts
Some Recent Archaeological Publications
Raunds Area Project Publications
Northamptonshire Archaeology Client Reports Online
Other Client Reports Online
Archaeology in Northamptonshire 2008
Pat Chapman with additional material from Richard Ivens and South Midlands Archaeology 2009, 39
Archaeology in Northamptonshire 2009
Pat Chapman with contributions from Richard Ivens and David Gilbert
The Journal of Northamptonshire Archaeological Society: Northamptonshire Archaeology, Volume 20, 1985 to Volume 29, 2000-01