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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 543: summary

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Archaeological monitoring and excavation at 12 Temple Villa, Chipping Hill, Witham, Essex: 2nd/3rd March 2010
by Adam Wightman

Date report completed: March 2010
Location: 12 Temple Villa, Chipping Hill, Witham, Essex
Map reference(s): TL81871525
File size: 192 kb
Project type: Archaeological monitoring and excavation
Significance of the results: neg

Summary. Archaeological monitoring and excavation was conducted prior to the construction of an extension with a basement on the north-western corner of 12 Temple Villa, Chipping Hill, Witham, by the Colchester Archaeological Trust (CAT) on the 2nd and 3rd of March 2010. The development is located within the inner and outer earthworks associated with the Iron Age settlement and fortification at Chipping Hill. The fieldwork was carried out as required in a brief issued by Essex County Council Historic Environment Management (ECC HEM) officer Teresa O’Connor and in accordance with a Written Scheme of Investigation (WSI) produced by CAT.

Prior to the archaeological monitoring a garage, two sheds, a large tree and concrete hardstanding had been removed from the site by the contractor. A piling mat had also been laid and subsequently removed, and piles had been installed around the edge of the extension roughly 100mm apart. Eight services (including multiple branches of the same service) crossed the excavation area, most of which had supplied the two sheds and the garage that had been previously removed. Other services supplied outbuildings located further north down the garden. A foul water drain junction with at least two inlet pipes and one outlet pipe leading southwards to the road was located to the west of the house alongside steps leading down to the existing basement. One of these pipes originated from the area of one of the aforementioned sheds which may once have been an outdoor toilet. Roots from the large tree that once stood on the site had also caused considerable disturbance to the ground in the excavation area.

Reduction of the remaining topsoil (L1) and accumulated soil (L2)was undertaken using a toothless ditching bucket and continued until natural sand and gravel was reached as noarchaeological horizons were encountered. The topsoil was a dark grey/brown sandy silt, and the soil accumulation that underlay the topsoil (L2) was a lighter grey sandy silt with frequent stones. The soil was generally mixed and heavily disturbed by the aforementioned modern disturbance, and only modern building materials and artifacts were observed in the soil (not retained). The natural subsoil (L3) was an orange/grey coarse sandy gravel (small subrounded gravel). Many of the modern foundation and service cuts were observable in the natural sand/gravel after it had been cleaned but no archaeological features were identified. Areas of undisturbed natural subsoil existed to the north of the house. However, to the west of the house, the density of modern activity in the thin area between the steps to the existing basement and the western edge of the proposed extension (2.5m) meant that most of the subsoil here had been heavily disturbed. If either of the large prehistoric enclosure ditches identified in 1971 and 1988 had been located in the excavation area, the modern disturbance would have only partially obscured the features due to their significant width and depth (10m and 8.5m wide, both over 3m deep). However, only modern features and natural sand/gravel were observed and it was clear that the ditches were not located in the excavation area.

No archaeological deposits or finds were identified within the area of the new extension and, as outlined above, much of this was likely due to the significant modern activity associated with the house and its associated outbuildings. The project was monitored by Teresa O’Connor of the ECC HEM team.