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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 1097: summary

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Archaeological monitoring and excavation at Brightlingsea Quarry, Moverons Lane, Brightlingsea, Essex: June 2013 - April 2015
by Mark Baister
(with contributions from Stephen Benfield, Adam Wightman, Nina Crummy, Pip Parmenter, Lisa Gray, Val Fryer, Emma Holloway)

Date report completed: August 2017
Location: Brightlingsea Quarry, Moverons Lane, Brightlingsea, Essex
Map reference(s): TM 0747 1797
File size: kb
Project type: Monitoring and excavation
Significance of the results:

Summary. A large multi-period site was excavated at Brightlingsea Quarry prior to mineral extraction. The excavation provided evidence for occupation on or near the site, on the ridge overlooking the River Colne estuary, from the Early Neolithic to the Late Anglo-Saxon period (over 5000 years).

There was a small number of features on site dating to the Early Neolithic, including a pit containing sweepings from a fire and a significant assemblage of worked flints.

A substantial number of the features excavated were tree throws. Based on the pottery recovered from their fills, and their stratigraphic relationships, they are probably the result of deforestation in the Late Neolithic.

Some pit scatters around the site belong to the Late Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age periods. A small group of these pits to the south contained two possible cremations of a Late Neolithic date. Also dating to this period was a cremation in a collared urn.

The Bronze Age saw the start of a combined agricultural and ritual landscape, with the excavation of a field system and a substantial Bronze Age ring-ditch. No burial was found within the ring-ditch, but it did encircle a ring of postholes. It probably contained a barrow, although this is not certain and it may instead be an unknown form of ritual monument.

Another field system was excavated in the Late Iron Age to Early Roman period, and a grouping of nine LIA/ER burials was also uncovered clustered around one of the entrances into this field system.

During the mid Roman period, a trackway was laid out that cut across the site. It heads off outside the excavation area, presumably to Roman settlements elsewhere on the ridge. From one of the ditches in this trackway, a leaded-bronze foot in the shape of a harpy was recovered. It dates from the 1st century AD and was made in Campania, southern Italy.

Also from the mid Roman period were three cremations in the south of the site, probably associated with any nearby settlements.

The southern half of the site was dominated by an Anglo-Saxon settlement. Large numbers of finds were recovered from pits and structural features, including at least ten Grubenhäuser and two post-built structures.

The large amount of archaeology uncovered during this excavation makes the site, and area generally, significant on a regional level. It also suggests that any more work on the ridge overlooking the Colne estuary is very likely to reveal more evidence of further multi-period archaeology, including settlement evidence.