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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 566: summary

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An archaeological watching brief at 122 Norsey Road, Billericay, Essex: June-October 2010
by Ben Holloway

Date report completed: October 2010
Location: 122 Norsey Road, Billericay, Essex
Map reference(s): TL 5710 3852
File size: 192 kb
Project type: Watching brief
Significance of the results: neg

Summary. The proposed development lies within the former extent of Norsey Wood, a medieval deerpark of national importance (Scheduled Ancient Monument 29428). In addition to the medieval and post-medieval woodland, there is considerable evidence for prehistoric settlement within the wood (EHER no 5307). The place-name evidence suggests that the woodland may have been enclosed prior to 1066. The current woodland bank dates to some time between 1291 and 1323. The scheduled monument includes the perimeter earthworks and interior of Norsey Wood, an area of mixed and coppice woodland located immediately to the east of Billericay. The Wood contains one of the most remarkable collections of archaeological features to be found anywhere in the region. These include occupation areas and burial sites dating from prehistoric and Roman periods, earthworks relating to continuous management of the woodland from the medieval period onwards, and physical remains related to the military use of the Wood in comparatively modern times. Until the 1930s the Wood was almost completely enclosed by perimeter earthworks, perpetuating a boundary unchanged since the Wood was first mapped in 1593. The construction of the houses along Norsey Road resulted in the wood bank being levelled and the ditch filled in. It was possible that multi-period deposits would survive in the grounds of 122 Norsey Road. An archaeological watching brief was carried out between June and October 2010. Excavation of the basement started before the first visit by an employee of the Colchester Archaeological Trust. Consequently only the lower part of the excavation for the basement could be monitored and, by this stage, the work was well into the geological coarse sands and gravels. Three further visits to the site were made to observe the excavation of ground beams and a soakaway to the north-west of the basement. The soakaway was excavated through the topsoil into the natural sand. The topsoil had already been removed from the area of the ground beams prior to their excavation. No archaeological features were observed.