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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 608: summary

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Report on an archaeological evaluation and excavation on the site of the former G.S Brown’s garage, Dunmow Road, Great Easton, Essex, May 2011
by Adam Wightman

Date report completed: March 2012
Location: Great Easton
Map reference(s): TL 6101 2542
File size: 1271 kb
Project type: Evaluation and Excavation
Significance of the results: ***
Keywords: Late Iron Age/Roman enclosure, farmstead, track or droveway

Summary. Archaeological excavation was carried out on the site of the former G.S Brown Garage, Dunmow Road, Great Easton ahead of the construction of a new workshop and showroom for P&A Woods. The site is situated on the eastern slope of the valley of the River Chelmer near to a small tributary. It is likely that the long history of human occupation in the area, as indicated by the findings of this excavation and the extant medieval remains in close proximity, is attributable to the geographical location of this piece of land. Prehistoric activity on the valley slope was indicated by small pits, post-holes and a gully as well as significant assemblages of residual worked flints and prehistoric pottery sherds. It is probable that the prehistoric finds from this site are associated with the occupation, albeit possibly intermittent, of this area of the River Chelmer valley from the Early Neolithic period and throughout the Bronze Age and Iron Age. The most intensive period of occupation recorded on the site is Late Iron Age and Roman. Ditches dating to this period have been interpreted as the southeastern line of an enclosure, probably surrounding a rural farmstead. The outermost enclosure ditch probably defines a track or droveway. Significant finds assemblages were recovered from the enclosure ditches as well as from adjacentrubbish pits and cess-pits/latrines. Evidence from these features suggests that the inhabitants of the farmstead undertook both animal and crop husbandry and that the settlement was involved in activities such as food processing, preparation and consumption. The scale of this activity is unknown due to the peripheral locality of the excavation area in relation to the presumed habitation centre. Evidence suggests that the farmstead buildings were constructed of wood with wattle and daub walls and that the inhabitants of the farmstead were of a relatively low economic status. Occupation of the enclosure probably continued until the mid 3rd-4th century, with domestic waste disposal continuing in this area. No evidence was found for the continued occupation of this part of the river valley in the Anglo-Saxon period and it is presumed that the site was abandoned following the Roman period. Despite the close proximity of extant medieval monuments no deposits or contexts dating to this period were uncovered.