In 2006 an examination was carried out of around 30 quernstones and fragments that had been recovered from rubble in fallen sections of drystone walls within about 100m of Starbuck House. These were ascribed to the Romano-British period, probably having an early post-conquest to 2nd century date of manufacture, with possible late Iron Age antecedents. It was suggested that they were manufactured somewhere nearby. A search of the Starbuck House grounds was carried out, including inspections of all the walls and the geology. The land around Holly House on the opposite side of the lane was also walked, and two more quernstones were discovered. An outcrop of Ashover Grit lies to the immediate east of Starbuck House and another 250m to the west, behind Holly House, and there are other small abandoned quarries in the local area. Examination of the gritstone in the quarries showed that it would have made ideal quernstone material and it was suggested that in the Roman period the availability of fallen stone from the outcrop escarpments may have made quarrying unnecessary. Although a production site has not been precisely pinpointed, it was probably at the base of the bank to the rear of Starbuck House, which has now been landscaped. Longwalls Lane is thought to have been in use as a routeway in Roman times, and probably before, so finished quernstones could have been easily transported from their site of manufacture to their potential markets. (1)
In 2009, following the finding of Romano-British pottery in the garden of Starbuck House, a trench c. 4m x 3m was excavated. At least three phases of activity were identified. Features included a smooth paved area, possibly a loading area for stone being brought down for transportation, or the interior floor of an industrial building; cobbled and beaten earth floors, possible wall remnants and a circular feature tentatively interpreted as the base of a domestic oven. Pottery, of which there was a large quantity, was mostly of 2nd and 3rd century date and included wasters, suggesting nearby pottery production. Some slag was also found, indicating that smithing was being carried on nearby. Coal was found in almost all the Roman contexts. (2)
Many samples of the querns had been photographed and are now regarded with little doubt to be Romano- British. (3)
Article in serial: Palfreyman, A & Ebbins, S. 2007. 'A Romano-British quern-manufacturing site at Blackbrook, Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 127, pp 33-48.
Article in serial: Palfreyman, A & Ebbins, S. 2011. 'Excavation at the Romano-British quern site on Longwalls Lane, Blackbrook, Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 131, pp 132-173.
Correspondence: Ebbins, S. 2008. Email correspondence regarding quern making site at Blackbrook, 22/4/2008. Email.
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Centred SK 3318 4827 (202m by 198m)
BELPER, AMBER VALLEY, DERBYSHIRE
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Record last edited
Oct 12 2017 4:30PM
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