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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 425: summary

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An archaeological excavation on the site of the west Clacton reservoir and pumping station, Great Bentley, Essex: April-May 2007
by Brooks, H; Holloway, B
(with contributions from Benfield, S. Cool, H. E. M, Martingell, H.)

Date report completed: October 2007
Location: Great Bentley, Essex
Map reference(s): TM11521836 (Centre)
File size: 4,328 kb
Project type: Excavation
Significance of the results:
Keywords: Late Iron Age, Neolithic, Flint, Field Systems, Medieval, Post-Medieval, roman Glass, cropmarks, prehistoric pottery, loomweight,

Summary. Aerial survey has revealed the cropmarks of unexcavated and undated field systems on either side of this site. An evaluation in 2006 uncovered a number of field ditches, as well as evidence of prehistoric and Roman activity. The 2007 excavation (reported here) was located in the southern half of the evaluated field. Two field systems were revealed. The first was aligned north-south, and was undated. The second was aligned north-west to south-east, and was dated to the Late Iron Age or early Roman period. Earlier occupation was indicated by the presence of residual Neolithic flints and Bronze Age pottery in the ditch fills. The results of the excavation differ in two ways from those of the evaluation. First, the evaluation indicated that there were medieval and post medieval ditches over the whole of the evaluation area, but none of those on the excavation site (in the southern half of the evaluation area) were dated later than 1st century Roman, although some were undated and may be medieval or later. Second, the northern part of the evaluation area produced fragments of loomweights and Mayen lava which are evidence of a mixed farming economy in the Late Iron Age and Roman periods, but the excavation (in the southern part of the evaluation area) produced few finds of this date. One interpretation of this would be that the excavated area coincided with the farmed fields rather than the settlement centre, which lies to the north in the area unaffected by the construction of the reservoir. The most remarkable find was a group of small fragments of Roman coloured glass – the raw materials of enamelling – from the fill of an early Roman ditch. The circumstances of discovery indicate that these were in a cloth or leather bag dropped or placed in the ditch. This discovery, which will be fully published elsewhere, has implications for local enamelling and metal-working.