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Monument record MDR4371 - Iron Age/Romano-British settlement, west of Lowes Lane, Barrow upon Trent

Type and Period (6)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

The dry summer of 1959 accentuated the visibility of cropmarks in the Trent Valley as shown on aerial photographs taken by Dr St Joseph. They included a complex of enclosures at Swarkestone Lowes Farm. An excavation by W A Cummins and members of a Derby WEA class produced evidence of Romano-British occupation as well as Iron Age pottery. The latter included coarse, hand-made scored pottery of Trent AB type, and a finer wheel-turned pottery, the two types not associated. Romano-British pottery, part of a stone spindle whorl and part of the upper stone of a rotary quern were recovered. (1-3) Single and double ditched enclosures were excavated in 1961 by Mr. Cummins of the Department of Geology, Nottingham University, and resolved into Iron Age and Romano-British features. Pottery included Derbyshire Ware from ditches near the farm (SK 363296), as well as from SK 363295 where a quern fragment was also recovered. (4) There are no surface indications of these crop marks, which are on arable land. (5) Listed by Challis and Harding as a 'ditched enclosure with pottery' (Iron Age). (6) Iron Age pottery included a Belgic type carinated bowl; also some Romano-British sherds and a quern fragment have recently been catalogued in Derby Museum, 555-1976. (7) A survey of good quality aerial photographs revealed that the cropmark ditches and enclosures described above form part of a large settlement site of Iron Age/Roman date. The settlement consists of conjoined enclosures of varying shapes and sizes, centred at SK 3622 2950. Most of the enclosures are rectilinear, including one with an entrance, while one has curvilinear sides. Trackways join some of the enclosures. Two hut circles occur within the complex at SK 3622 2955 and SK 3626 2951. (8-12). The cropmarks have been plotted on a map overlay at a scale of 1:10,000. (13). Fieldwalking, geophysics and trial excavations were carried out in early 1993 in advance of the proposed Derby-Southern Bypass. Fieldwalking revealed that artefactual material was present in the field to the immediate west of Lowes Lane, although a substantial area had been disturbed due to quarrying in the past. Geophysics detected a number of anomalies thought to represent archaeological features. As a result, three trenches were excavated in the area to be destroyed by the Bypass. Results from these trial trenches indicated that complex archaeological remains extend to the west of Lowes Lane in areas where they produce no cropmark or geophysical trace. The trench closest to Lowes Lane contained the butt end of a substantial east-west ditch, similar to an Iron Age enclosure ditch, which appeared to be sealed by medieval relict ploughsoil. A break in the ditch may represent an entrance causeway. The ditches and other features in the area produced c. 65 pieces of prehistoric flintwork, including tools, debitage and a fragment of polished axe-head. Preserved wood fragments from the western ditch terminal indicated localised waterlogged conditions. Two trenches further to the west found no trace of the possible Iron Age enclosure ditch; however part of a ring-gulley was excavated which produced struck flint, large sherds of Iron Age pottery and a complete saddle-type quern and rubbing stone. (14) Two trenches, one 120m x 3m the other 10m x 5m, were excavated in this area in 1994, prior to the construction of a British Gas pipeline. Excavation revealed a number of intercutting ditches and gulleys, pits and post-holes. These features produced a substantial quantity of Iron Age and Romano-British pottery, animal bone, flint and part of a bronze Romano-British brooch. They undoubtedly represent the remains of a settlement site. Slag fragments found within the fill of one pit may indicate Romano-British industrial activity. (15) A second phase of more extensive excavation was carried out later in 1994. A numer of trenches were excavated, producing material which ranged from three flakes of possible Middle Palaeolithic date to post-medieval pottery. In particular, the excavations identified a locally rare Early Mesolithic industry, characterised by the knapping of large blades and by a restricted tool kit, a significant quantity of debitage and a range of tools of Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age date and a variety of Iron Age and Romano-British features. The latter included a post-ring round house, with seven postholes defining an inner ring of roof supports and a doorway on the south-east side. The structure is typical of many Bronze Age and Iron Age sites in Britain but is a rare discovery for the Trent Valley (16, 17)

Sources/Archives (17)

  • <1> Article in serial: Hughes, R. 1961. 'Archaeological sites in the Trent Valley, South Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 81, pp149-150.
  • <2> Aerial Photograph: St. Joseph, J. K.. AP: Cambridge University: J.K.St.Joseph: YU68; PR32, 53-58; T1 71,72.
  • <3> Article in serial: 1961. East Midland Archaeological Bulletin, No. 5. p 4, p 5.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Letter (S.O. Kay, 28.5.62).
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: F1 BHS 24-Jun-66.
  • <6> Monograph: Challis, A & Harding, W. 1975. 'Later Prehistory from the Trent to the Tyne', British Archaeological Report 20. Part 2. p9, 10, 41, 50.
  • <7> Index: TPAT. 1980. 2083. 2083.
  • <8> Index: RCHME. 1995. New National Forest Survey: 922864. 922864. p868-9.
  • <9> Index: RCHME. 1995. New National Forest Project: 931760. 931760. p1063-4.
  • <10> Index: RCHME. 1995. New National Forest Project: 931761. 931761. p1065-6.
  • <11> Index: RCHME. 1995. New National Forest Project: 931762. 931762. p1067-8.
  • <12> Index: RCHME. 1995. New National Forest Survey: 931763. 931763. p1069-70.
  • <13> Archive: Whiteley, S. 1989. Aerial Photographic Transcripton Project.
  • <14> Unpublished document: Walker, J. 1993. Derby Southern Bypass Archaeological Evaluations. Report on Site Investigations.. SMR Doc. No. 88, pp 11-16, Fig. 1.
  • <15> Unpublished document: Challis, K & Elliott, L. 1994. Swarkestone Lowes, Derbyshire. Excavation in Advance of British Gas Pipeline Construction.. SMR Doc. No. 130.
  • <16> Article in serial: Elliott, L & Knight, D (TPAT). 1999. 'An Early Mesolithic site and 1st millennium BC settlement and pit alignments at Swarkestone Lowes', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 119, pp 79-153.
  • <17> Article in serial: Guilbert, G & Elliott, L. 1999. 'Post-ring round-house at Swarkestone Lowes', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 119, pp 154-175.



Grid reference SK 36169 29456 (point) (Approximate)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (5)

  • EDR1714
  • EDR1660
  • EDR1664
  • EDR1665
  • EDR1356

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Record last edited

Jan 31 2018 3:16PM

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