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MOLLUSCA FROM CONTEXT 103, RODNEY STOKE CHURCHYARD (RSC12) Matt Law On behalf of C & N Hollinrake Ltd.

June 2012 Introduction and Methods 1.5 kg of sediment from a watching brief at Rodney Stoke churchyard was examined for the presence of Mollusca and other biological remains and artefacts. The sediment derived from Context 103, the fill of a linear feature, which was a tufa-rich silty clay. The sample was processed following the methods of Davies (2008) using a nest of sieves with a minimum mesh size of 250µm. Molluscan taxa were identified to species level where possible using a reference collection, although in some cases the shells were too fragmented or too coated in tufa to allow identification beyond genus level. For each gastropod taxon within a sample, the most commonly represented non-repetitive element (usually the shell apex, umbilicus, or body whorl with mouth) was counted to determine the minimum number of individuals (MNI) present. This avoids the underestimation reported when only shell apices are counted (Giovas 2009). Ecological information is derived from Evans (1972), Macan (1977), Kerney and Cameron (1979), and Davies (2008). Nomenclature follows Anderson (2008). No attempt was made to identify Ostracoda or vertebrate remains beyond phylum level. Results MNI values for Mollusca, and individual item counts for other biological remains and artefacts are presented in Table 1. Discussion Mollusca The sample contains a relatively low number of snails (n= 34) representing a relatively large number of taxa (Taxa S = 11). Factors which affect the number of snails in a sample include original population size, surface stability, rate of sediment deposition and taphonomic agents. The relatively low number of shells may be indicative of reasonably rapidly accumulating sediment. High molluscan diversity is often indicative of damp, shaded conditions with high levels of ground humidity. The fauna thus reflects a wet, possibly wooded, environment. Although the Vallonia spp. prefer open habitats, they are often a small component of woodland fauna (Evans 1972, 148). There is evidence for taphonomic mixing within the assemblage. The sole Euconulus sp. shell was coated in tufa, making identification to species level impossible. Although tufa does still form along spring lines in limestone areas, for example at Ston Easton in Somerset (Davies 2008, Figure 6.1), large scale deposits stopped forming in Britain at around 4500 – 4000 BP (Davies 2008, 89). It is likely that this shell is reworked from the underlying tufa deposit. Similarly, the sole shell of Anisus leucostoma within the sample exhibits a greater degree of pitting by fungi or algae than other shells in the assemblage, suggesting that it may be older. This mixing is likely to be the result of deliberate backfilling of the cut. Cecilioides acicula is a burrowing species, believed to be a medieval introduction to the British Isles, and so is likely to be intrusive within this deposit. Finally, the

presence of earthworm granules within the sample (see below) suggests a biologically active burial environment, with potential for temporal mixing of smaller shells and artefacts. Ostracoda Ostracods are bivalved crustaceans present in habitats ranging from waterlogged soils to oceanic waters. The presence of their valves in this sample is likely to be indicative of the fill having been derived from a wet habitat, although the possibility that the feature itself was waterlogged cannot be ruled out. Earthworms Some species of earthworms excrete calcareous granules in life which are often well-preserved archaeologically, and have the potential to be recovered in high numbers from samples (Canti 2006). Although it is not possible to determine how many worms would have created the granules, their presence is a useful indicator of the possibility of taphonomic mixing through earthworm action. The granules in this sample appear to be typical of the species Lumbricus terrestris (e.g. Canti 2006, Fig 1). Other finds The sample also contained a tiny fragment of CBM and a fragment of glass, both of which are small enough to be have been brought down through the stratigraphic sequence by earthworms. There is also a small quantity of animal bone, including bones and teeth of rodents, as well as some charcoal and charred seeds. Conclusions The Mollusca and Ostracoda appear to represent wet, shaded conditions. It is likely that much of the fauna in this sample derives from the underlying tufa deposit. Tufa typically formed in swampy woodlands, for example at Cherhill in Wiltshire (Evans and Smith 1983), Blashenwell in Dorset (Preece 1980), and Wellow Brook, Stone Easton, Somerset (Davies et al. 2006). The fill is likely to have been derived from the underlying material, and deposited quickly within the cut. References Anderson, R., 2008. Annotated list of the non-marine Mollusca of Britain and Ireland. London: Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Canti, M., 2006. Deposition and taphonomy of earthworm granules in relation to their interpretative potential in Quaternary stratigraphy. Journal of Quaternary Science, 22 (2). pp.111-8. Davies, P., 2008. Snails: archaeology and landscape change. Oxford: Oxbow. Davies, P., Haslett, S.K., Lewis, J., and Reeves, E., 2006. Tufa deposits and archaeology in the Mendip area, Somerset. In Hunt, C.O., and Haslett, S.K.,eds., Quaternary of Somerset: field guide. London: Quaternary Research Association. pp. 57-66. Evans, J.G., 1972. Land Snails in Archaeology. London: Seminar Press.

Evans, J.G., and Smith, I.F., 1983. Excavations at Cherhill, north Wiltshire, 1967. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 49, pp. 43-117. Giovas, C.M., 2009. The shell game: analytic problems in archaeological mollusc quantification. Journal of Archaeological Science 39: pp 1557-1564. Kerney, M.P., and Cameron, R.A.D. 1979. A Field Guide to the Land Snails of Britain and Ireland. London: Collins. Macan, T.T., 1977. A Key to the British Fresh- and Brackish-water Gastropods. 4th Edition. Ambleside, UK: Freshwater Biological Association. Preece, R.C., 1980. The biostratigraphy and dating of the tufa deposit at the Mesolithic site at Blashenwell, Dorset, England. Journal of Archaeological Science, 7, pp. 345-62.

Taxa MOLLUSCA Nesovitrea hammonis (Ström 1765) Carychium tridentatum (Risso 1826) Discus rotundatus (O. F. Müller 1774) Euconulus sp. Cepaea sp. Limacidae sp. Trochulus hispidus (Linnaeus 1758) Vallonia costata (O. F. Müller 1774) Vallonia cf. excentrica Sterki 1893 Anisus leucostoma (Millet, 1813) Cecilioides acicula (O. F. Müller 1774) Table 1: MNI values for molluscs

Ecological notes Terrestrial, shaded places Terrestrial, shaded places, among leaf litter Terrestrial, shaded places Terrestrial, shaded places Terrestrial, ubiquitous Terrestrial, ubiquitous Terrestrial, ubiquitous Terrestrial, open country Terrestrial, open country Freshwater, tolerant of seasonal drying out Subterranean

Count 1 2 5 1 9 2 4 2 3 1 4

OTHER FINDS Ostracoda (item count, not MNI) Earthworm granules Charred seeds Charcoal Animal bones (inc. Rodent bones and teeth) Glass CBM Table 2: other finds from the sample

28 35 3 4 22 1 1