making sense of heritage

Wessex Archaeology
Wessex Archaeology is one of the largest archaeological practices in the UK, employing 200 archaeologists across four regional offices in Salisbury, Rochester, Sheffield and Edinburgh. We work with councils, developers, landowners and heritage organisations to ensure that archaeological remains are recorded and preserved before work begins on new development schemes. Wessex Archaeology is funded by its commercial work and by grant giving bodies. Wessex Archaeology was established in 1979, and as a charity, educating people about archaeology through lectures, events and public outreach is central to our company ethos. We also carry out building surveys, underwater archaeology, coastal studies, heritage management, illustration and 3D computer modelling, human remains analysis, finds and environmental analysis and publication.

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wessex archaeology

wessex archaeology

Extracting the Past
Kingsmead Quarry, Horton
Excavations at Kingsmead Quarry have revealed a vast and complex archaeological landscape. Since 2003 Wessex Archaeology has painstakingly uncovered the hidden and forgotten history of Horton, Berkshire. In partnership with CEMEX UK, the excavations have revealed a wealth of information about how people lived during the last 12,000 years, going back to the end of the last Ice Age. It covers a time when people still hunted, to the arrival of farming, the first appearance of metals and the influence of the Roman Empire. The archaeological works have been project managed by The Guildhouse Consultancy, and monitored by Berkshire Archaeology on behalf of the local planning authority (Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead).
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making sense of heritage

wessex archaeology

Hunters of the river plain
12,000 – 4000 BC
Amongst the oldest finds found on the excavation was a 300,000 year old hand axe found by a quarry worker. Excavations also revealed a number of Old Stone Age (Palaeolithic) flint tools from around 12,000 – 10,000 BC. Such tools were brought to the site by people hunting and gathering along the Rivers Thames and Colne. Some of these flints were recovered from a cluster of hollows left by fallen trees, whilst an interesting flint scatter found in 2011 suggests that flint was knapped to make tools on the site. At this time the sea level was far lower and Britain was part of the European mainland.

making sense of heritage

wessex archaeology

Horton’s pioneer farmers
4000 – 3600 BC
The excavations have revealed significant evidence for occupation at the start of the Neolithic period. Finding one building of this date is rare – so far we have uncovered the ground plans of four rectangular structures. Two were post-built with possible walls of wattle and daub, and two were made of split log walls. They were likely to have had pitched roofs covered with thatch or turf. Finds of pottery, bone objects, flint and stone tools indicate that these were houses people lived in. Remains of plants show that wild foods such as hazelnuts were gathered and that cereals were grown. The houses could represent a small farming settlement, hamlet or family group that shifted location, perhaps as people died or the building became too decayed to live in. We do not know if the houses were being used at the same time.

making sense of heritage

wessex archaeology

Ritual ceremony and offerings
3600 – 3000 BC
The early farmers were also monument builders, which took the form of earthen mounds or ditched enclosures. These were often places of ritual ceremony in which offerings and human burials were placed. A large monument was also revealed on the site. A ‘U’-shaped enclosure was surrounded by a later oval barrow. In the inner ditch quantities of animal bone were found, the probable remains of a feast. The outer ditch contained interesting artefacts such as several birch bark bowls, and pottery with fingernail impressed decoration. A number of antlers were found which may have been used to dig the ditches.
The barrow monument was made by digging an oval ditch and using the soil to construct an earth mound. Barrows are normally associated with burials.

making sense of heritage

wessex archaeology

A woman of importance
2300 BC
The excavations have revealed a rare and important Beaker burial. Such burials are found across Europe from around 2500 BC and coincide with the first use of copper and gold. People were buried with a distinctive pot or ‘Beaker’, often with fine objects of metal or stone. The person buried at Horton is thought to have been a woman over 35 years old. She was buried with beads made from gold, amber and lignite (similar to jet). Few Beaker burials from Britain contain gold ornaments, and most are associated with men. This makes this burial particularly rare. She was probably an important person within her community, giving her access to prestigious, rare and exotic items. She could have been a leader, a person with power and authority.

making sense of heritage

wessex archaeology

Bronze, fields and farmsteads
1500 – 700 BC
Around 3500 years ago, the landscape changed dramatically. Trees were cleared and boundary ditches dug to create large fields, enclosures, trackways and animal paddocks. The land was divided into two individual farmsteads. Both settlements had roundhouses, fencelines, pits and waterholes, and were involved in rearing animals. Several cattle burials indicate the importance of livestock to the community at this time. The remains of barley and emmer wheat that had been threshed and winnowed show us what was grown in the fields.
Two important bronze objects were found: a delicate ‘quoit-headed’ pin and an elegant decorative ‘Picardy’ pin, these may represent offerings. Both pins may have been used to fasten cloaks.

making sense of heritage

wessex archaeology

Roundhouses and rubbish pits
700 BC – AD 43
At the end of the Late Bronze Age (700 BC) the earlier field systems were abandoned. The land may have been over-farmed or simply became too wet, forcing people onto drier ground. We can also tell that the land was not used as intensively into the Iron Age. We have found the remains of some roundhouses which would have had thatched roofs, two grain stores and lots of pits. These were for quarrying clay for pottery making and were then used for burying rubbish. One area of pits may have been used for the production of clay loomweights.

making sense of heritage

wessex archaeology

What the Romans did for Horton
AD 43 – 410
After the Roman conquest in AD 43 a large farmstead was established. Formed by several paddocks and enclosures, it probably produced cereals and meat, to be traded at the nearby Roman town of Pontibus (Staines). Pottery found indicates that the farm was used for several hundred years. Finds also include farming tools such as axes and adze heads (used for shaping wood), a hipposandal (type of horseshoe), a rare bronze cauldron and personal items such as brooches, rings, an ear scoop and four leather shoes. Preserved seeds and grains indicate that hay and cereals were produced on the farm alongside the rearing of cattle. Decorated samian ware pottery from France suggests a wide network of trade and exchange.

making sense of heritage

wessex archaeology

After the Romans
AD 410 – present
Little evidence was found for the Anglo-Saxon period (AD 410 – 1066). This may suggest that people were already settled in the hamlets and villages such as Wraysbury and Horton. Around 800 years ago Horton Manor became the focal point of the medieval landscape. The Domesday Book of 1086 records the manor as having enough land to support 10 households and was owned by ‘Walter son of Other’. There is evidence for small field systems, as well as ditches, pits and a small oven or kiln. Isolated features such as wells and animal burials were also found, as well as a large oval enclosure possibly associated with the Manor. Later the land changed again to be replaced with large fields for modern farming.

making sense of heritage

making sense of heritage

Working with the aggregates industry
Terrestrial and marine
Wessex Archaeology offers a unique capability to the aggregates industry, providing a comprehensive range of consultancy and archaeological services for all types of scheme. As well as working at many quarries across the country, we are the UK’s leading provider of archaeological services to the marine aggregates industry. We also have long partnerships with many of the leading aggregates companies, as well as with the British Marine Aggregate Producers Association (BMAPA). The large scale of extraction and its impact on the historical environment requires early involvement of heritage specialists in the planning and mitigation process. Wessex Archaeology provides a full range of terrestrial and marine services including consultancy, desk-based research, geophysical surveys, mitigation, publication and outreach.

wessex archaeology

making sense of heritage

Unusual artefacts
Several of the artefacts found are rare and unusual, whilst some are unique in the country. The Middle Bronze Age pins are extremely rare finds with only a few of each type found in Britain and on the Continent, whilst an Iron Age cauldron is without parallel. The distinctive Neolithic pottery found in the oval barrow is also very rare in southern England, and the beads associated with the Beaker burial are unique in the UK. We have found evidence that communities retained and looked after these items, sometimes handing them down through several generations before depositing them in unusual places. It is likely that these essentially agricultural communities were aware of, and possibly open to, influences from much further afield.

wessex archaeology

making sense of heritage

Trade and exchange networks
Some of the rarer finds appear to have travelled great distances before they found their way to Horton, indicating a range of trade and exchange networks were in place over thousands of years. The two Middle Bronze Age pins appear to have made from metal from the Continent. The ‘Picardy’ pin may have come from northern France. Trade indicates a degree of economic prosperity, with a number of prestigious and luxury objects coming to the site. The Beaker gold beads may have come from Cornwall, the lignite beads from East Anglia, the amber probably from the Baltic, Neolithic stone axe from Cumbria and the Roman samian bowl from southern France. It is interesting to consider what was being exchanged to allow such high status and prestigious finds to come to the site. This may have been a surplus of some kind ideal for trade, such as cattle or cereal.

wessex archaeology

making sense of heritage

wessex archaeology

making sense of heritage

wessex archaeology

making sense of heritage

Aggregates and archaeology
The location of Horton has proved ideal for settlement and farming for the last 6000 years. The natural resources of the gravel and clay have been exploited since the first farmers of the Neolithic. The archaeological remains have been preserved in the natural ‘brickearth’, a type of clay buried beneath the modern ground surface, but above the gravel. Machines are used to carefully remove the topsoil and subsoil to reveal archaeological features which are seen as dark marks in the ground. They represent features such as ditches, gullies, postholes, pits for the disposal of rubbish and waterholes, the latter providing the settlements with water. Archaeologists hand-excavate these features, and the artefacts recovered help us understand the ancient activities which have taken place. CEMEX UK is pleased to fund this extensive 15 year programme of archaeological work – from excavation through to assessment and analysis, ending in publication and deposition of the archive.

wessex archaeology

making sense of heritage

Archaeology and aggregates
Gravel extraction has been a common theme throughout the history of Kingsmead. For the last 6000 years people have utilised, exploited and extracted the natural resources of the landscape. Quartzite pebbles were used as hammers, as rubbing stones for grinding corn and as hearthstones. Flint was also collected from the gravel for making everyday tools for cutting, skinning and hunting. Gravel was also used to construct the enclosing banks for fields and farmsteads, and from Roman times onwards for roads and tracks. Aggregate, sand and gravel was used in early concrete by the Romans as an essential building material. Today aggregate is still a vital part of concrete, an essential material of our built environment.

wessex archaeology

wessex archaeology

CEMEX UK
CEMEX supplies vital building materials, cement, aggregates, concrete and building products, to the construction industry. Our materials are used in homes, roads, hospitals, schools and all around us in the built environment, helping to build a ‘Greater Britain’. At Kingsmead Quarry, sand and gravel is quarried and used in local construction projects and major ones such as M25 widening scheme and T5 at Heathrow Airport. We have a responsibility for the impact of our business on the environment and communities and to preserve the land for future generations. While meeting the needs of communities for construction, we safe guard our heritage, through archaeological investigations, restore the land that has been quarried back to nature and care for the environment through more sustainable products and operations.

making sense of heritage

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