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Monument record MDR6925 - Cropmark complex (site of), Hicken's Bridge, Aston upon Trent

Type and Period (8)

  • (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • (Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age - 3000 BC to 1501 BC)
  • (Early Neolithic to Roman - 4000 BC to 409 AD)
  • (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)
  • (Late Prehistoric - 4000 BC to 42 AD)
  • (Early Neolithic to Roman - 4000 BC to 409 AD)
  • (Post Medieval to Late 20th Century - 1540 AD to 2000 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Features showing on an aerial photograph include a triple ring ditch, an adjacent circle, enclosure and linear features. (1) Main site is a henge with three concentric ditches. Two subsidiary circles to the west. Immediately adjacent to the north, a rectangular enclosure apparently with rounded corners, possibly a roman camp. All of these features are on a small elevated piece of ground. Other linear features are visible in the same field. Doubtless the prehistoric elements are related to the nearby Aston cursus complex. Site totally destroyed by farmer in August/ September 1984 by the construction of a reservoir. Partly falls within a larger scheduled area. (6) Desktop Assessment, evaluation work, and watching brief. Asessment identified 2 palaeochannels in area to south of the henge. Evaluation found no structural archaeological evidence for activity - and this was contrasted with the extensive cropmark evidence to north. It was thought the area may have been too wet and prone to flooding. Some five flints and two fire cracked pebbles were however recovered. (7-9) Cropmarks plotted on map overlay, 1:10,000. (10) A resistivity survey carried out on the strip of land to the north and east of the reservoir clearly show the surviving 75% of the hengiform feature and indicate that a number of other linear features to the north of the reservoir have survived. The features may be traced eastwards beyond their extent as cropmarks and into the vicinity of the hengiform monument. (11) To the south and east of the hengiform monument (south of the Trent and Mersey Canal) a number of wide sinuous linear depressions on the surface suggested the presence of palaeochannels. The channels were mapped. Their position suggests that the hengiform monument, and suspected cursus terminal, occupy a low bluff at the edge of the flood plain terrace, overlooking a series of (successive) river channels. The channel deposits were augered and contained preserved organic material within a deep sedimentary sequence. Assessment of the palaeochannels identified this area as primarily floodplain within the valley of the River Trent. The line of 3 palaeochannels were identified on the ground surface. Two of these are known to contain organic remains which hold information on the past landscape. (12) Trenches and auger transects were used in order to evaluate the palaeochannels. No significant archaeology was recorded, only modern field-drains and mostly post-medieval clay pipe and pottery were recovered. However, five pieces of worked flint and two fire-cracked pebbles may indicate early human presence. The absence of archaeology (in contrast to the richness of cropmark evidence in the surrounding landscape) suggests a quiet backwater environment with prolonged water-logging which would have been unsuitable to most settlement activity. (13) Two trenches were excavated in 1994, one at SK 429299 at the eastern edge of the reservoir (tr. 01), and one at SK 431298 (tr. 9) to the south of Hicken's Bridge. Trench 01 revealed that 60% of the triple ring-ditch had survived, though the south-western ditches and some of the central area had been destroyed through the construction of the reservoir. The surviving sections of the outer and middle ditches were continuous in plan, the inner ditch had a causeway on the eastern side and contained the greatest number of artefacts which consisted of small sherds of prehistoric pottery and flint flakes. A steep-sided pit, in the gap between the causeway terminals, contained a large amount of burnt wood. Another elongated pit contained part of a Beaker, three flint flakes and a sherd of pottery - the artefacts and shape of the pit suggest this was a Beaker grave. Between the inner and middle ditch a shallow pit contained small fragements of cremated bone, flint and a sherd of pottery. The outer ditch was the deepest of the three, while the middle ditch was the shallowest and contained a larger amount of charcoal than the other two. There were five pits in the central area of the monument, four contained prehistoric pottery and flint. Beyond the outer ditch a small pit contained Late Bronze Age / Early Iron Age pottery. Two steep-sided, narrow linear gullies, on the northern side of the ring-ditch, contained Iron Age pottery and may have held posts. The evidence suggests that there were at least three phases of activity at this monument. A linear hollow to the south-east of the triple ring-ditch when excavated suggested a network of small channels, biological assessment indicated that farming had taken place in the vicinity while the channels were silting up. (14) Geophysical survey followed by evaluation of the area revealed that the area encompasses two palaeochannels containing organic deposits. Radiocarbon dating of one channel suggests it infilled during the Mesolithic period and that the organic deposits contained well-preserved pollen. (12-13) The cropmarks are visible on aerial photographs dating to 1969-76. They were mapped during an aerial photographic mapping survey as part of an aggregates resource project. They were identified as a later prehistoric barrow and pit alignment, later prehistoric/Roman rectilinear enclosures and field boundaries, the Neolithic cursus, and a post medieval/20th century pond. Much of this area, particularly in the south, has been subject to sand and gravel extraction. (16) Magnetometer survey provided evidence for a number of palaeochannels with hollow or possible pit forms. A few linear features were recorded, at least one of which appears to be anthropogenic in origin. An area of magnetic patterning together with extremly weak magnetic signals located at the western end of the survey area suggests some archaeological potential, which may be masked by alluvial cover. (17) Evaluation of the area of a proposed gravel-pit near Hicken's Bridge was conducted in 1995. At least two palaeochannels were identified from surface undulations within the area, and these were investigated. The channels contained organic remaisn which were sampled for pollen and dated by radiocarbon. The latter demonstrated that one channel was open at the end of the 2nd millennium BC, with grassland and open places increasing at the expense of woodland later in the sequence. Clasts and lenses of organic compounds were also recorded within the gravels during a watching brief. A red deer antler was discovered from the top sands and gravels, possibly of Holocene date. The only other significant feature is stone-lined trough linked to a network of sandstone and slate-lined drains. The function is unclear, but may be an agricultural feature. (18)

Sources/Archives (18)

  • <1> Index: Trent & Peak Archaeological Trust (TPAT). Trent & Peak Archaeological Trust Index: 2120. 2120.
  • <2> Aerial Photograph: Pickering, J (National Monuments Record, English Heritage). National Monuments Record aerial photograph: SK 4229. sk4229. 24, 25, 30, 39, 45, 46, 47.
  • <3> Aerial Photograph: Pickering, J (National Monuments Record, English Heritage). National Monuments Record aerial photograph: SK 4230. SK4230. 3.
  • <4> Index: Trent & Peak Archaeological Trust (TPAT). Trent & Peak Archaeological Trust Index: 2128. 2128.
  • <5> Aerial Photograph: Pickering, J (National Monuments Record, English Heritage). National Monuments Record aerial photograph: SK 4331. SK4331. 5,7,22a,26a/236.
  • <6> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1986. Scheduling Notification. 23368. Cat No: 230.
  • <8> Archive: Howard, A, Elliott, L & Garton, D. 1995. Hicken's Bridge: Summary Report on Archaeological and Geoarchaeological Investigations. Cat. No.: 271. Cat. No.: 271.
  • <9> Archive: Howard, A & Elliott, L. 1995. Report on the Watching Brief of Borrow Pit Exctraction Activities at Hicken's Bridge. Cat. No.: 272. Cat. No.: 272.
  • <10> Archive: Whiteley, S. 1989. Aerial Photographic Transcripton Project.
  • <11> Unpublished document: Walker, J. 1993. Derby Southern Bypass Archaeological Evaluations. Report on Site Investigations..
  • <12> Unpublished document: Elliott, L, Brown, J & Howard, A (TPAT). 1995. Aston Hill & Hicken's Bridge, Aston-upon-Trent, Derbyshire. An archaeological assessment..
  • <13> Unpublished document: Howard, A, Elliot, L & Garton, D (TPAT). 1995. Hickens Bridge, Aston on Trent, Derbyshire. Summary Report of archaeological and geoarchaeological investigations. Draft copy..
  • <14> Unpublished document: Challis, K (TPAT). 1994. Archaeological Evaluation of a Proposed Stocking/Winter Working Area for Aggregate at Shardlow, Derbyshire..
  • <15> Unpublished document: Knight, D (TPAT). 1994. A 564 (T) Derby Southern Bypass. Summary of Rescue Archaeological Works at Aston Cursus, Potlock Cursus and Swarkestone Lowes..
  • <16> Unpublished document: Malone, S (TPAT). 1992. Shardlow Stocking Area: Geophysical Survey.
  • <16> Digital data: Archaeological Research Services (ARS) Ltd. 2009/2010. Aerial Photographic Mapping Survey carried out as part of an Aggregates Resource Project.
  • <17> Unpublished document: Johnson, A (Oxford Archaeotechnics). 1996. Hicken's Bridge, Shardlow, Derbyshire, Gradiometer Survey.
  • <18> Bibliographic reference: Tarmac Ltd. 1998. Tarmac Papers: The Archives and History Initiative of Tarmac Heavy Building Materials Volume II.



Grid reference Centred SK 429 295 (1029m by 910m) (Approximate)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (10)

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  • EDR1607
  • EDR1714
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  • EDR1720
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  • EDR1719
  • EDR1610
  • EDR3490

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Record last edited

Mar 14 2020 8:57PM

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