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Monument record MDR5437 - Cropmark complex, Aston upon Trent

Type and Period (16)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

A complex of cropmarks at Aston upon Trent are visible on air photographs taken by J.K. St. Joseph and J. Pickering in 1962. (5) These include a cursus, single and double ring ditches, probably of ploughed barrows, a large, double-ditched circle with post-holes, probably a henge monument, and rectilinear ditched enclosures or field systems of presumably Iron Age or Romano-British date. The double ring ditch at SK 422291 and two smaller ring ditches nearby were dug in 1965-6 by D. Reaney. The double ditch was found to be the site of a Neolithic occupation whose pits yielded carbonised grain, flint blades, flakes, an arrowhead and pottery sherds of carinated Grimston type bowls. Radiocarbon analysis of the grain gave a date of 2,890<+/-> 150 BC for the occupation. On top of the occupation site was a barrow which originally rose 14 inches above the present surface and was surrounded by a ditch. It contained a crushed Bell-Beaker and Neolithic occupation material - charcoal, pottery sherds, hazelnut fragments, a green polished stone wrist guard, worked flints and flakes. This primary barrow was enlarged later and a new ring ditch dug as the old one had silted. A crushed and eroded Necked Beaker was found, which may indicate a secondary burial. To the north-east in the field at the corner of Acre Lane and Aston - Shardlow road is another group of sites consisting of 5 or 6 small square enclosures, a small circular site, numerous pits and two other ditches. The square enclosures are similar to the square barrow ditches of the Yorkshire Wolds. In 1967 the limited excavation of a square enclosure at SK 42352955 showed it to be Iron Age ditched enclosure of this type. There was no trace of a mound or burial, but there was a small internal pit and sherds of Iron Age pottery were found in the ditch, along with a few of Romano-British date and some undated flints. Cursus and other air photographic marks east of Aston-on-Trent, scheduled. (6) Scheduled - DR185 now includes former Scheduling DR250. (7) Cropmarks plotted on map overlay, 1:10,000. (8) Excavations were conducted in 1995 in advance of the re-cutting of a storm-drain that runs along the north side of Acre Lane. The objective was to record the presence and position of the east and west ditches of the cursus. Only the eastern cursus ditch (not recorded by aerial photography) was located, the absence of the western cursus ditch at this point suggests a previously unsuspected entrance-way. The eastern cursus ditch is located c. 250m north of its previously recorded position, and lies along the edge of the floodplain terrace. All of the fills of the ditch were sampled for palaeoenvironmental analysis. A piece of waterlogged wood was recovered from the very base of the cursus-ditch, and was identified as a stem of field maple. The upper fill of the ditch contained flint and Medieval pottery, which seems to represent a build up of material from flooding and agricultural activity. (9) The Aston on Trent 1 round barrow site archive from Reaney's 1960s excavations mentioned by Authority 6 was revisited by Loveday et al. A report was published in the Derbyshire Archaeological Journal in 2012. See SMR 16608 for more details. (11) A huge amount of cropmarks were identifed and plotted in this area during an aerial photographic mapping survey, using 20th century photographs. A number of the cropmarks fall outside of the scheduled area. They include later prehistoric circular, square, curvilinear and rectilinear enclosures, pits, a pit alignment, field boundaries, trackways, and the scheduled cursus. Medieval ridge and furrow earthworks and cropmarks were also identified in this area. (12) Despite four decades of aerial reconnaissance along the Trent Valley those monuments that characterise the Middle and Late Neolithic (major cursuses and henges) remain clustered in a short 13km section between Willington and Aston. The Aston cursus earthworks appear to have close morphological similarities to 'houses' that contextually may have had some symbolic importance during periods of seasonal assembly and possessed distinct areas of activity. (15)

Sources/Archives (15)

  • <1> Article in serial: Hughes, R. 1961. 'Archaeological sites in the Trent Valley, South Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 81, pp149-150.
  • <2> Article in serial: Reaney, D. 1968. 'Beaker burials in South Derbyshire', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 88, pp 68-81.
  • <3> Article in serial: May, J. 1970. 'An Iron Age square enclosure at Aston, a report on excavations in 1967', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 90, pp 10-21.
  • <4> Article in serial: St Joseph, J K. 1966. Antiquity, 40.
  • <5> Article in serial: East Midlands Committee of Field Archaeologists. 1974. East Midlands Archaeological Bulletin, 1974.
  • <6> Scheduling record: Department of the Environment. 1978. DOE (IAM) AMs Eng 3, 23.
  • <7> Scheduling record: English Heritage. Scheduling Notification 23144; Aston Cursus. Mon. No.: 23144. Cat. No.: 185.
  • <8> Archive: Whiteley, S. 1989. Aerial Photographic Transcripton Project.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Elliott, L & Garton, D (TPAU). 1995. Acre Lane, Aston: Recording of the Aston Cursus along a Newly Cut Storm-Ditch on the Line of the Derby Southern Bypass..
  • <10> Bibliographic reference: Gibson, A & Loveday, R. 1989. 'Excavations at the Cursus Monument of Aston upon Trent, Derbyshire' in Midlands Prehistory, ed. A Gibson. BAR British Series 204, pp 27-50.
  • <11> Article in serial: Loveday, R (University of Leicester). 2012. 'Aston on Trent 1: excavation of a round barrow and protected cursus land surface', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 132, pp. 80-128.
  • <12> Digital data: Archaeological Research Services (ARS) Ltd. 2009/2010. Aerial Photographic Mapping Survey carried out as part of an Aggregates Resource Project.
  • <13> Index: Trent & Peak Archaeological Trust (TPAT). Trent & Peak Archaeological Trust Index: 2112. 2112.
  • <14> Aerial Photograph: Pickering, J. National Monuments Record aerial photograph: 4128/12.
  • <15> Article in serial: Loveday, R. 2004. 'Contextualising monuments, the exceptional potential of the Middle Trent Valley', Derbyshire Archaeological Society.



Grid reference Centred SK 42230 29388 (928m by 883m) (Approximate)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR1709
  • EDR3120

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Record last edited

Mar 4 2019 4:51PM

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