Plot 4a, Cabot Park, Poplar Way East, Bristol: archaeological watching brief

CONTENTS

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Summary....................................................................................................................... 2 Acknowledgements ...................................................................................................... 2 Copyright notice........................................................................................................... 2 1. Introduction............................................................................................................ 1.1 Project background ........................................................................................ 3 1.2 Archaeological background ........................................................................... 3 Methodology ......................................................................................................... 6 Results ..................................................................................................................... 3.1 The topsoil strip ............................................................................................. 8 3.2 The drainage work ......................................................................................... 9 3.3 The dock levellers ........................................................................................ 10 Conclusions......................................................................................................... 11

2. 3.

4.

Bibliography ............................................................................................................... 11 Appendix 1: Context index ......................................................................................... 12 Appendix 2: Finds index (topsoil strip) ...................................................................... 13

FIGURES

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Figure 1: Location of development area (red) .............................................................. 5 Figure 2: Location of topsoil strip, drainage work and dock levellers ......................... 7

PLATES

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Plate 1: View to northwest of topsoil stripping in area of Little Googs prehistoric site8 Plate 2: View to west of topsoil stripping and the partial removal of the historic rhine8 Plate 3: N-layer preserved in excavated spoil ............................................................... 9

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Plot 4a, Cabot Park, Poplar Way East, Bristol: archaeological watching brief

Summary GGAT Contracts undertook a watching brief, in accordance with the archaeological written scheme of investigation (Dunning 2006), during topsoil stripping and partial excavation of the subsoil, subsequent drainage and other groundworks, in advance of a development at Plot 4a, Cabot Park, Poplar Way East, Bristol. The only archaeologically significant deposits encountered were of a post-medieval or modern date, furthermore all the observed material culture was of a post-medieval or medieval date. The line of a historic rhine was also noted. No features or artefacts associated with the known prehistoric site of Little Googs were noted, although the horizons potentially associated with prehistoric and Roman settlement were noted during the deeper groundworks. Acknowledgements The project was managed by Richard Roberts BA, the fieldwork undertaken by Richard Lewis BA, and the report prepared by Rob Dunning BSc and Steve Sell BA of GGAT Contracts. The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of Bob Jones (Bristol City Council Archaeologist) during the project. Thanks are also due to Malcolm Sainsbury of Midas Construction and to Martin Lally of Sharemills for their assistance during the project. Copyright notice The copyright of this report is held by the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd, which has granted an exclusive licence to Terramond Severnside LLP to use and reproduce material it contains.

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Plot 4a, Cabot Park, Poplar Way East, Bristol: archaeological watching brief

1. Introduction
1.1 Project background Terramond Severnside LLP have received planning consent for the construction of four warehouses, together with associated access, yards, car parking and landscaping at Plot 4A, Cabot Park, Poplar Way East, Bristol. Such a development has the potential to damage the archaeological resource and a condition was added to the planning consent stating that all intrusive groundworks will be monitored and recorded by an archaeological organisation approved in writing by the LPA (Planning Application number 06/01275/M/N). A written scheme of investigation (Dunning 2006) was produced, which allowed for an archaeological watching brief to be carried out on intrusive ground works, and included an in-built facility to record any unforeseen remains. Terramond Severnside LLP commissioned the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust, Projects Division (GGAT Projects), to undertake the watching brief during all intrusive groundworks. Monitoring of the soil-strip was undertaken between 08/10/06 and 09/10/06, the drainage work between 19/02/07 and 05/03/07, and the additional work on the dock levellers on 04/03/08 and 07/04/08. 1.2 Archaeological background The proposed development lies within a much larger area of archaeological potential, established initially by a programme of survey work followed by a number of assessments, evaluations and excavations. More recently much of the emphasis has been upon the monitoring of groundwork associated with geotechnical and development works. Survey work has established and plotted the depth and extent of a prehistoric organic horizon within the alluvial sequence (the BARAS or N-layer), thought to represent an episode of land stability during the Neolithic period, and two gleyed layers. The lower of these (known as the Rockingham or B-layer) is thought to represent a stabilised horizon during the Bronze Age, and the upper (the R-layer), although less secure, may belong to the Roman period. Occupation from the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age has already been noted preserved within a relict landscape, at Stinkums, Kites Corner, Little Googs and most recently at Plot P11 (Tuck 2003). Excavation has been undertaken at Kites Corner and P11, with these sites being characterised by scatters of charcoal associated with burnt stone, pottery, flint, bone and fired clay. The results from Kites Corner indicate that this site may represent a transitory hunting camp occupied during the Late Bronze Age, possibly involving some kind of industrial activity (Locock et al 1998). Later sites have also been identified. Excavations have been undertaken on two of the farmsteads existing prior to development, Moorend and Yeomans, and showed that both had medieval origins. Moorend continued to be occupied throughout the postmedieval period, and other farmsteads (Packgate, Poplar and Madam) dating to the post-medieval period indicate continuity of occupation with gradual intensification, probably following improved and extended land drainage (Locock et al 1998). The current development encompasses the known prehistoric site of Little Googs. A field evaluation was conducted in 1998 in the field labelled as Little Googs (meaning ‘small marshy field’) on Taylor’s Map of 1773; this noted evidence of activity 3

Plot 4a, Cabot Park, Poplar Way East, Bristol: archaeological watching brief

associated with the lower gleyed horizon, thought to be associated with Bronze Age activity. Several trenches were excavated, with one trench (Trench 8) containing traces of charcoal, numerous burnt stones, animal bone, prehistoric pottery dating to the Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age and a possible post-hole. Similar material was also recovered from a second trench to the north (Trench 42), whilst a third trench to the east (Trench 19) produced fragments of bone and stone. Organic lenses and a charcoal-rich deposit were also visible in nearby trenches (Trenches 29, 30, 31 and 35) (Locock et al 1998).

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Plot 4a, Cabot Park, Poplar Way East, Bristol: archaeological watching brief

2. Methodology
An area measuring 220m by 150m was excavated to a depth varying between 50mm and 250mm. A full written, drawn and photographic record was made of all archaeological deposits, in accordance with the GGAT Manual of Excavation Recording Techniques. Contexts were recorded using a single continuous numbering system, and are summarised in Appendix I. All significant contexts were photographed using a Nikon Coolpix 4500, Kodak DC215 Zoom and Pentax Optio E40 digital cameras. All classes of finds were retained, cleaned, and catalogued until arrangements for final deposition have been agreed, in line with the requirements of the Institute of Field Archaeologists’ Standard and Guidance for the collection, documentation, conservation and research of archaeological materials (2001). Monitoring of the foul drainage run was undertaken following the publication of the original report, which has been amended to include the later work. This phase of the groundworks was carried out using a 360° tracked excavator with a maximum depth of approximately 3m below the reduced level. The drainage works ran along the southwestern side of Poplar Way East in a southeasterly direction before turning through 90° c60m from the easternmost corner of the site. Inspection of the lower part of the trench was inevitably restricted owing to the need for drag-boxes to be used in such deep excavations in unstable ground conditions. The report has been further amended to include monitoring of groundwork for the dock levellers, on the northwestern side of the main building under construction. This work also used a 360° tracked excavator with toothed bucket, and covered an area of c16m x 30m, with a maximum depth of c1.40 below the current ground level at its northeastern end.

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Plot 4a, Cabot Park, Poplar Way East, Bristol: archaeological watching brief

3 Results
3.1 The topsoil strip. The large open area excavation measured 220m by 150m, was excavated to a depth varying from 50mm to 250mm. The general stratigraphy of the site (Area A) consisted of a topsoil (1001) which was composed of a root matt bound in a dark redbrown clay matrix. This overlay a mid red-brown clay (1002), with a minimum depth of 0.25m, containing frequent angular sandstone inclusions (<0.20m in diameter). The area in the southeast corner of the site (Area B) consists of a bank (1003), with a maximum height of 1.5m, sloping up to the southeast. The bank is composed of made-ground containing fragments of concrete, iron, steel and tarmac, and is topped by a modern security fence. The line of a rhine was also noted, aligned northeast-southwest and measuring 1.5m wide and with a maximum depth of 1m (see Figure 2). The rhine is associated with a single line of poplar trees (Populus tremula), positioned along a similar alignment.

Plate 1: View to northwest of topsoil stripping over the site of Little Googs prehistoric site.

Plate 2: View to west of topsoil stripping and the partial removal of the historic rhine.

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Plot 4a, Cabot Park, Poplar Way East, Bristol: archaeological watching brief

3.2

The drainage run

The initial indications of the presence of the Neolithic, or N-layer came from examination of spoil from excavations to the southwest of the southerly building under construction, where this organic-rich later, some 0.05m in thickness, formed the interface between the general greyish-brown upper alluvial layer, and the grey-blue lower alluvium (see below, Plate 3). Parallels could be drawn between this sequence and that observed in one of the geotechnical test-pits excavated on the adjacent development site, Plot P4b. (Sell 2007).

Plate 3: N-layer preserved in excavated spoil (see above)

Occurrence of both the upper and lower gleyed layers, associated elsewhere with potential occupation in the Roman and Bronze Age periods respectively, was sporadic. The upper gley, locally associated with a thin organic lens, showed clearly towards the northwestern end of the drainage run, where it appeared to lie just below the horizon between the layer identified as ploughsoil and the main upper alluvial layer, at a level that would be consistent with its occurrence on the adjacent plot (ibid). The lower gley was noted further to the southeast, at one point appearing as a divided lens; a thin concentration of organic material noted at a similar depth, but without the characteristic gleying, may also represent the B-layer. As on the adjacent plot, up to seven layers or lenses were identified during the drainage phase. Topsoil (2001) had already been removed (see above). A layer of lime stabilisation (2002), yellowish or greyish-brown alluvial soil, overlay the main upper alluvial layer (2003/4), which was generally bluish-brown becoming increasingly greyer with depth, either with or without two gleyed or organic horizons representing the R and B-layers (2003a, b). The lower horizon of this layer appeared to be formed by the N-layer, a substantial and constant lens of organic material perhaps 0.05m in thickness (2005), which separated this layer from the bluish-grey lower alluvial layer below (2006). However, this stratigraphy was not consistent throughout the area covered by the drainage; the organic N-layer occasionally appeared to form a lens within the presumed lowest part of the main upper alluvial layer, but this anomaly might also be the result of partial gleying just below the Nlayer in some areas but not in others. No artefacts were recovered from this phase of the groundwork. 9

Plot 4a, Cabot Park, Poplar Way East, Bristol: archaeological watching brief

3.3

The dock levellers

The total area excavated measured approximately 16m x 30m, ramped in from the southwestern end, with a maximum depth of 1.40m below the current surface over a strip some 4m wide at the northeastern end of the excavation. The stratigraphic sequence consisted of recycled building materials (3001) with a depth of c0.50m overlying a layer of lime stabilisation (3002), a yellowish-brown clayey deposit c0.50m thick added to the site following the stripping of topsoil and initial reduction of the levels over the building footprint. The upper main alluvial layer consisted of the remainder of what probably represents the ploughsoil layer (3003), a greyish rooted clay-loam measuring between 0.10m and 0.25m in thickness, overlying mid-brown alluvium (3004), flecked blue in fresh fracture, to the limit of excavation, between 1.30m and 1.40m below the present raised surface level. Apart from one land drain within the upper part of layer 3003, and a minor linear feature aligned northeast-southwest, filled with stabilisation material, there were no other features of archaeological significance, and no artefacts were recovered.

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Plot 4a, Cabot Park, Poplar Way East, Bristol: archaeological watching brief

4 Conclusions
The only archaeologically significant structures or deposits uncovered during the watching brief were of a post-medieval or modern date, including a bank and rhine. The line of the rhine suggests that it is the feature depicted on the 1st edition OS map (1888) and Poplar Farm is likely to derive its name from the associated poplar trees. The recovered cultural material was of a post-medieval or medieval date, although the unglazed sherd from Area B is likely to be residual in nature. Despite its proximity, no features or artefacts associated with the known prehistoric site of Little Googs were noted, although the presence of horizons potentially associated with occupation during the Roman, Bronze Age and Neolithic periods was noted during the drainage work.

Bibliography
Dunning, R, 2006, Cabot Park Plot 4A, Poplar Park, Bristol: archaeological written scheme of investigation, GGAT Report no. 2006/063 Locock, M, Robinson S and Yates A, 1998, Cabot Park distribution park and international rail freight terminal phase 2: Poplar Packgate and Moorend: archaeological evaluation, GGAT report no. 98/047 Sell, SH, Plot P4b, Cabot Park, Poplar Way East, Bristol: archaeological watching brief, GGAT report no 2007/022 Tuck, M, 2003, Plots P11 and P2b, Cabot Park, Avonmouth, Bristol: archaeological monitoring of test pits, GGAT report no. 2003/065

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Plot 4a, Cabot Park, Poplar Way East, Bristol: archaeological watching brief

Appendix I
Inventory of contexts: 1 The topsoil strip
Context 1001 1002 1003 Type Deposit Deposit Structure Depth (m) 0m-0.05m 0.05m-0.3m Description Dark red-brown clay Mid red-brown clay Modern bank

2 The drainage work
Context 2001 2002 2003/4 2003a 2003b 2005 2006 Type Deposit Deposit Deposit Deposit Deposit Deposit Deposit Description Topsoil (already removed) Yellowish or greyish brown clay-loam; lime stabilisation layer Upper alluvial layer; greyish-brown, bluish in fracture Upper gley (?Roman) or equivalent organic lens, within 003/004 Lower gley (?Bronze Age) or equivalent organic lens, within 003/004 Organic lens (?N-layer) usually at base of 003/004 Lower alluvial layer, greyish blue

3 The dock levellers
Context 3001 3002 3003 3004 Type Deposit Deposit Deposit Deposit Description Recycled building materials Yellowish or greyish brown clay-loam; lime stabilisation layer Upper alluvial layer; greyish-brown rooted clay-loam, ?ploughsoil Upper alluvial layer, mid brown, bluish in fracture

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Plot 4a, Cabot Park, Poplar Way East, Bristol: archaeological watching brief

Appendix 2
The finds (topsoil strip) An assemblage of thirteen artefacts was recovered as surface finds during the topsoil strip. The assemblage consisted almost entirely of ceramics dating to the late 18th and 19th centuries including ‘local’ coarse red earthenware, transfer-printed and plain white earthenware, the stem from a clay tobacco pipe and other modern ceramics. The exceptions were two sherds of pottery of medieval date, a body-sherd from a glazed jug and part of the rim of an unglazed vessel, both probably dating to between the 13th and 14th centuries.
Material type Clay pipe Pottery Pottery Pottery Pottery Pottery Pottery Detail Stem fragment Stoneware Local coarseware White earthenware, plain White earthenware, transfer-printed Glazed Un-glazed (rim) Qty 1 4 (=1) 1 4 1 1 1 Weight (kg) 0.001 0.020 0.012 0.004 0.004 0.002 0.040 Period Post-medieval Post-medieval Post-medieval Post-medieval Post-medieval Medieval Medieval

Note:
4 (=1) Fragments originate from single vessel

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