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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 807: summary

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Archaeological monitoring and excavation, Stage 7 and 8 western extension, Hanson Quarry, Maldon Road, Birch, Essex - Stage 7: November 2014-January 2015 and Stage 8: October-November 2015
by Howard Brooks, Ben Holloway
(with contributions from Stephen Benfield)

Date report completed: April 2016
Location: western extension, Hanson Quarry, Maldon Road, Birch, Essex
Map reference(s): TL 9225 1935
File size: 2,424 kb
Project type: Archaeological monitoring and excavation
Significance of the results: *
Keywords: Early Iron Age, four-post structures, post-holes, ditches, post-medieval, WW2, air-base

Summary. Since the late 1990s, the expansion of the Hanson Birch Quarry has been preceded by archaeological monitoring and excavation on behalf of Hanson Aggregates. This has allowed the Trust to explore a landscape containing a Bronze Age burial site, a Late Iron Age and Roman enclosure, and a WW2 air-base. This is the report on archaeological monitoring at Birch Pit in 2014 and 2015, during and after topsoil-stripping of the Stage 7 and Stage 8 western extension of the quarry, next to areas investigated in 2004, 2008, and 2013. In the sequence of letter codes attributed to the various quarry areas, this is Area K. Thirty archaeological features were excavated in 2014/2015. Five features can be attributed to the WW2 airfield, and three ditches represent post-medieval field boundaries which are clear continuations of ditches excavated on adjacent Birch Pit sites. There are five undated pits and one natural pit. Of the fifteen post-holes, twelve were convincingly arranged as three 'four-post' structures. Dated finds were rare, but five of the post-holes produced Early Iron Age pottery, and one produced a Roman pottery sherd. The majority of the site was disturbed by the construction and subsequent removal of the WW2 air-base, particularly at the northern edge of the site.