• David Quick

Colemore updates - 2015 & 2016

Colemore Update 2015

In 2015 a deep feature was excavated to the east of the building, where a test pit had indicated a deep, dark deposit, rich in finds. In this trench a rectangular, approximately 5 metres long, deliberately-laid, packed flint surface was found. A purposely-laid clay layer bordered this surface, about 30 cm deep. The clay had been used as a levelling deposit (which has been seen elsewhere on the site), burying the earlier archaeological landscape. Finds above these surfaces indicate a general date of 150-220 AD. Beneath these surfaces was further deep, dark soil also rich in artifacts. This was securely dated to AD 70-110, thanks mainly to some Samian ware pottery sherds, adding to previous evidence that there was habitation in the Iron Age and throughout the Roman occupation until the 5th Century. Also found in these dark deposits were vast quantities of iron nails, which may suggest there was a substantial timber framed construction nearby, maybe of early Romano-British date. Various evaluation trenches were also dug in 2015:

  • One trench showed evidence of a causewayed entrance into the main enclosure at the end of a foot-worn track, which was seen to the southeast in 2012. This was about 1 metre wide and was bordered by ditches 2 metres wide, and 1 metre deep on either side. So far we have no definitive dates for this, apart from it being in use in the Romano-British era.

  • In a small enclosure attached to the main enclosure were found deposits of various construction materials (sand heap remains and flint heap remains). These may have been brought to the site prior to the building of the villa.

  • On the southern edge of the main enclosure there were wall foundations (less substantial than in the main building), a gully and a post-hole. There were few pottery finds, which indicates that the building was a barn or similar building.

  • A further small, non-habitation building with a flint floor.

  • A ditch (1.5 metres deep and 2 metres wide) running north-south with adjacent flint surface and post-hole on the habitation side. On the geophysics plot this ditch appeared to continue into trench Q.

Colemore, Spring 2016

A trench was dug to see if the building continues to the north; it does. In this trench several substantial wall foundations were found, on the same alignment as the known building. The finds have not yet been processed, but on initial assessment they seem to be of the same date. Also in this trench was an interesting chalk feature about 1 metre from a substantial wall foundation in the west. This consisted of rounded chalk pebbles sitting on top of a flint foundation. This may have been a corridor. There is a hint of a similar, robbed-out feature in the east. A gully (about 50 cm deep) alongside this “corridor" is from the known villa building. The gully is now known to be almost 30 metres in length, as is the building. A further trench was dug to the south. This revealed a deep, deliberately-deposited layer composed of crushed opus signinum, crushed CBM, crushed chalk and soil. It may have been a levelling deposit and it was very hard and well compressed. There were also a series of gullies. One was wide, slightly curved and full of silt. Similar gullies have been found in 2014 and in autumn 2016.

Colemore, Autumn 2016

Trench R Trench R expanded to the south on the trench dug in the spring. The wall foundations were found to continue. Within the chalk foundations a huge pad stone was discovered, possibly made from Bembridge Limestone. More evidence for the second wall in the west was found and this also had a pad, but it is thought that this was of Malmstone. In the west of the trench previously unknown wall foundations were uncovered. At the moment it is not clear how these relate to the rest of the building, i.e. was it part of an entrance, or the end walls of a room? Trench R also contained a packed-clay floor foundation running to the east, complete with in-situ patches of a hard, red, possibly crushed CBM floor in places. Finds from Trench R included CBM, pottery and metal items. The building appears to be at least 30 metres in length to date. Part of the remit for 2017 is to see if it extends further to the north. Trench Q Trench Q was situated to the east of trench R. It had been looked at in the spring dig and was expanded. On the geophysics trench Q appeared to contain the junction of two ditches. But Ditch 1, which had been excavated in 2015, had been dammed on the edge of trench Q. Ditch 2, the main enclosure ditch, had also been dammed, with a small gully leading to the adjacent deep, rounded “pond” area in the centre of the trench and giving an insight into Romano-British water management. The “pond” area was rich in artifacts – lots of corroded iron and pottery. Although there are no confirmed dates, this appears to be later Romano-British. Within the fill were unearthed two sherds of engraved glass: one from a vessel from the Rhine area dating to the 4th Century; and the other from a very clear, well-made glass dish. Also found were part of a flanged, red pottery dish and an Oxfordshire parchment-ware mortarium; numerous glass sherds of various colours; and an abundance of Alice Holt pottery fragments including a number of huge rims. The dams to the ditches were formed from rammed clay and flint. In the south a flint metalled surface had a straight edge and was deliberately placed, possibly to allow access to the “pond”. On top of the “pond” fill there were remains which indicated an iron production furnace – highly burnt clay with iron from the furnace structure and vast quantities of slag, bloomery and raw material (haematite with a high iron content from a local source). Also unearthed was what is thought to be part of the top of a furnace made from very hard sand with compressed iron in a shape that curved in the correct proportions. There were many iron artifacts: hobnails, corroded iron implements, possible tool fragments, etc. When all the dark deposit was removed from the “pond”, the feature was curved and oval in shape. It may have been used in the process of iron making, being used to drench larger iron objects and also as a water source in the manufacturing process. Evidence of iron working has been found on site in the form of hammer scale. Towards the end of the dig, when removing the dark deposit from the pond, it started to become less dark and began to contain a higher proportion of ash. There were also large clumps of charcoal, some of them branch sized. This deposit pre-dates the water management, pond and iron working. There was also a pair of what appear to be wall foundations, burnt and at over a meter depth. It is intended to further investigate this area in 2017; see diary dates for 2017 excavations.

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