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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 558: summary

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Archaeological trial-trenching and excavation at the Yard, Trenders Avenue, Rayleigh, Essex: June 2010
by Adam Wightman

Date report completed: July 2010
Location: The Yard, Trenders Avenue, Rayleigh, Essex
Map reference(s): TQ 8001 9321 (c)
File size: 9,593 kb
Project type: Archaeological trial-trenching and excavation
Significance of the results: negative

Summary. Five trial-trenches were excavated at the site of a former reclamation yard on Trenders Avenue, Rayleigh, by the Colchester Archaeological Trust in June 2010. Trenders Avenue is a small lane located in Green Belt land to the north of Rayleigh. Trial-trenching was undertaken prior to the construction of 4 detached barn-style dwellings arranged around a central court. Quantities of Roman pottery had previously been recovered in two areas, one within the development site and another to the immediate south-west, strongly indicating the site of a Roman settlement or cemetery in the immediate vicinity(EHER nos 1363 and 13535). The investigation consisted of five trial-trenches. Machine- stripping, using a toothless ditching bucket, was undertaken to remove a compact layer of modern crushed concrete, building debris and rubbish (L1). The modern material directly overlay natural clay (L2). No undisturbed soil accumulation was observed in any of the five trenches. There was no evidence on site of any soil having been removed during the demolition of the reclamation yard. Moreover, the construction of an area of yard surface and internal floor directly onto (and into) the natural clay suggests that any overlying soil had been removed from the area prior to the construction of the reclamation yard. Modern disturbance in the natural clay was identified throughout the five trenches and included concrete foundations, floor surfaces and pits containing modern rubbish. The natural clay was a light orange/grey colour but, across most of the site, the clay had been badly stained green/black by modern contaminates, mostly oil. Substantial modern foundations and an associated floor surface cut deep into the natural clay in T1. Because of the contamination, it was decided to decrease the width of the trenches from 2m to a single bucketís width (1.4m) to minimise the amount of contaminated ground exposed to the air. Hand-cleaning of the trenches was not undertaken due to the health and safety implications of working with contaminated ground. The identification of features by means of differentiating deposits based on colour was largely impossible due to the degree of staining across the trenches. However, where it was possible to observe clean clay, no features were observed and, based on the absence of any changes in the consistency of the clay, no archaeological features cut into the natural clay in the five evaluation trenches. No finds were recovered from any of the trenches. Despite the difficult conditions for the identification of archaeological features or deposits, it is believed that nothing of archaeological significance was uncovered during the evaluation. Moreover, if any archaeological deposits do survive in the development area they are likely to be heavily contaminated because of the landís former use as a reclamation yard. Whether any archaeological deposits were disturbed or removed from the evaluation area prior to the construction of the reclamation yard, or whether the development is close to any Roman evidence, is uncertain.