Colchester Archaeological Trust
CAT Report 312: summary
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Excavations at Abbotstone field, Bell House Pit, Tarmac Colchester Quarry, Warren Lane, Stanway, Colchester, Essex: 1999-2001
by Benfield, S; Pooley, L.
Date report completed: 30/09/2005
Location: Stanway, Colchester, Essex
Map reference(s): TL943227, TL94402306, TL948230
File size: 6087 kb
Project type: Excavation
Significance of the results: * *
Keywords: Iron Age, medieval, prehistoric, Bronze Age, Neolithic, flint, lithics, loomweight, enclosure, round-house, trackway/droveway, metal-working, human bone, cremation, animal bone
Excavation of the cropmark site revealed a site divided into three distinct periods of use: Period 1 before the Middle Iron Age (before c 300 BC): Phase 0 Period 2 Middle Iron Age, Late Iron Age and Roman (c 300 BC-late 2nd century AD): Phases 1-3 Period 3 the medieval period (12th-13th century): Phase 4 Period 1 before the Middle Iron Age (before c 300 BC) Phase 0 A small amount of activity took place on the site in the years before the Middle Iron Age. Finds included several pieces of pottery and worked flint dated to the Neolithic, the Bronze Age and the early Iron Age, along with small fragments of a probable Bronze Age drum-shaped loomweight. The majority of the finds are residual from later features but four pits are believed to date to this period. This material was concentrated around the eastern side of the site and in the south-west corner, and probably represents areas of early activity that were likely to have been small in scale and periodic/seasonal in nature. Period 2 the Middle Iron Age, through the Late Iron Age and into the Roman period (c 300 BC-late 2nd century AD) Period 2 is subdivided into three continuous phases of activity: Phase 1 This phase dates from the Middle Iron Age, through the Late Iron Age and to the late 1st century AD. It is represented by the construction of two round ditched enclosures, one of which contained a round-house; an irregular enclosure to the south; three droveways; and a number of other isolated features. Evidence from these features suggests that the settlement was involved in activities such as food preparation/storage/consumption, animal keeping, textile production and some metal-working. None of this activity was on a large or industrial scale and appears to have been based on the needs of a relatively small and self-sufficient community, although some pottery, briquetage, quernstones and other materials were imported into the site. Phase 2 This phase dates from the late 1st century AD to the early 2nd century and continues on directly from Phase 1 with no break in the occupation of the site. Within this phase, most of the features from Phase 1 were replaced by two square ditched enclosures a large enclosure to the east with a smaller enclosure to the west and a number of other ditches and isolated features. No structural remains were recorded in either enclosure, although the material recovered from the settlement would suggest that people were still living and working on the site. Activities involving food preparation/storage/consumption, animal-keeping, textile production and metalworking appear to have continued and imports into the site increased. Evidence for ritual activity was recorded in the form of a human head buried within a ditch, a cremation, and the debris from the remains of pyres and feasting activities. Phase 3 This phase dates from the early 2nd century to the later 2nd century AD and also appears to have continued on from the previous phase with no break in the occupation of the site. All the features of Phase 2 were replaced by two new square ditched enclosures: a large enclosure to the north (containing formal entrances, internal divisions, stone surfaces and other features) and a smaller enclosure to the south (containing formal entrances but with little evidence of internal activity). No structural remains were recorded in either enclosure although, as with Phase 2, the material recovered from the settlement suggests that people were still living and working on the site and that a building of some sort probably did exist in the south-east corner of the large enclosure. Textile production and metal-working appear to have ended, although there is still evidence for activity revolving around food preparation/consumption/storage and for imports continuing (and increasing where metalwork is concerned). Period 3 the medieval period (12th-13th century) Phase 4 A small amount of activity based in the 12th-13th centuries was also recorded on the site. A building and two 4-post structures were constructed within a field system' of ditches laid out across the landscape. The only identifiable medieval material remains from the site was a quantity of pottery along with two probably medieval pottery counters (made from Roman pot). This lack of large quantities of domestic material might suggest that the buildings were not used primarily for human occupation but as agricultural stores or animal shelters connected to the field system.