(Early Neolithic to Late Bronze Age - 4000 BC to 701 BC)
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Excavations and watching briefs carried out between March 1998 and October 1999 prior to the extension of the sand and gravel quarry (Willington Quarry) have produced evidence of prehistoric activity on the floodplain of the River Trent. Areas of low gravel islands surrounded by active streams were a foci of Neolithic activity in the 3rd millennium BC. Pits, post-holes and occupation layers along with many hearths and ovens from food preparation have been recorded. Peterborough Wares seem to have been the predominant pottery used on the site, and non-animal foodstuffs appear to be dominated by wild resources. A burnt mound may have been used for feasting. A lithic assemblage may have had task specific elements. The landscape was littered with burnt areas and tree-throw pits, some of which had been burnt, indicating clearance activity. A number of tree-throws were immediately adjacent to areas of increased human activity suggesting a relationship between the two. During these conditions a grave pit and ceremonial ring ditch were cut, probably during the Early Bronze Age at the latest. Some time later, probably in the 2nd century BC, a stream was the site of further burnt mound activity with surviving waterlogged remains, including a substantial rectangular roundwood-lined trough. The landscape subsequently started to alluviate and the site appears to have been abandoned. Additional features that were identified include numerous gullies that are probably post-medieval in date. They cut the alluvium and relate to 19th century attempts to drain poor land. In addition, twelve palaeochannels of different periods have been recorded, demonstrating the dynamism of the watercourses and the changing topography. The later channels appear more aggressive and deeper than the earlier ones. The prehistoric channels are shallow and clay plugged, showing little evidence of migration. Watching briefs have demonstrated that channel activity has continued from at least the early post-glacial period through until at least the Roman period. (1)
Excavations in Willington sand and gravel quarry between 1998 and 1999 have produced important evidence of prehistoric activity on the floodplain within the Middle Trent Valley. Areas of low wooded islands surrounded by active streams were a focus of Early to Middle Neolithic activity in the 4th millennium cal BC until around 3000 cal BC. Peterborough Wares were the predominant pottery used on the site, and non-animal foodstuffs appear to be dominated by wild resources, although evidence of dairying has also been identified. Radiocarbon dating of the pottery has supported the notion that Peterborough Ware belongs mostly to the second half of the 4th millennium cal BC and was not a Late Neolithic tradition. In the later half of the 3rd millennium cal BC there is evidence of systematic fire clearance of the area which was to be repeated over several centuries into the 2nd millennium cal BC. In the late 3rd millennium cal BC a burnt mound was probably used seasonally as a cooking site within a clearing for a number of years. The area appears to be subsequently abandoned but is used for burial - a small ring ditch, with possible external bank but no mound encircled a grave cut into alluvial silts, probably in the later Early Bronze Age. Several hundred years later, in the late 2nd millennium cal BC, a stream was the site of renewed seasonal burnt mound activity in a partly wooded landscape with surviving waterlogged remains of outstanding quality, including a substantial rectangular roundwood-lined trough; this burnt mound was also used for a short period before abandonment and further woodland regeneration. (2)
A watching brief, in 2001, to the east of the site revealed four palaeochannels. In the north-east, part of the base of a small brick-built footbridge was exposed, 4m long by 1.5m wide. The bridge probably dates to the late 19th - 20th century. Five timbers were recovered from the palaeochannels, all were interpreted as loose and not part of any structures. An oak stake showed some signs of tooling and the discarded butt of a felled ash tree was part of the assemblage. (3)
Recent excavations at Willington Quarry Extension adds to region's information on the late 3rd to early 2nd millennium BC, and contrast with other local and regional data. Evidence of Late Neolithic activity has been found which compliments current thoughts of mobility and diverse landscape use in a period otherwise dominated by monuments and lithic scatters. The work is an example of the systematic investigation of sub-alluvial areas, a topography noted for its under-representation. Two burnt mounds have been excavated, one with rare evidence of use perhaps for ceremonial feasting, and the other of outstanding preservation. (4)
Unpublished document: Beamish, M (ULAS). 2000. Willington Quarry Extension, Willington, South Derbyshire, Post-Excavation Assessment, Zones 1-8.
Article in serial: Beamish, M (ULAS). 2001. 'Island visits: Neolithic and Bronze Age activity on the Trent Valley floor, Excavations at Egginton and Willington, Derbyshire, 1998-1999', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 129, pp 17-172.
Unpublished document: Beamish, M (ULAS). 2001. Willington Quarry Extension, Willington, South Derbyshire, Results of Watching Brief, Zone 9.
Article in serial: Beamish, M (ULAS). 2001. 'Neolithic and Bronze Age activity on the Trent Flood Plain: an interim note on recent excavations at Willington Quarry Extension', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal.
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Centred SK 27929 27221 (654m by 516m) (Approximate)
EGGINTON, SOUTH DERBYSHIRE, DERBYSHIRE
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Record last edited
Oct 12 2015 5:37PM
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