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The Waithe Valley Through Time: 1. The Archaeology of the Valley and Excavation and Survey in the Hatcliffe Area

Willis, Steven (2019) The Waithe Valley Through Time: 1. The Archaeology of the Valley and Excavation and Survey in the Hatcliffe Area. The Central Lincolnshire Wolds Research Project, 2 . Pre-Construct Archaeology, London. UK, 464 pp. ISBN 978-1-9996155-4-3. (KAR id:65428)


This volume is the first of two examining the archaeology of the Waithe valley as it passes through the central Lincolnshire Wolds. This initial volume mainly concentrates on fieldwork and finds at the eastern edge of the Wolds just before the Waithe progresses to the Marshland. The study was undertaken as part of the Central Lincolnshire Wolds Project which is examining a landscape little explored archaeologically but which holds important evidence and potential.

This volume documents the development of the human presence and use of the valley and its tributary systems, noting the known archaeological and historical evidence from prehistory to recent times in its various forms. The attention then focuses on the archaeological evidence from Hatcliffe Top and surrounding area, on the eastern Wolds margin. The archaeological site at Hatcliffe Top itself lies in North East Lincolnshire (NGR TA 229 021) presently in a cultivated arable landscape. Here geophysical survey, fieldwalking and targeted excavations between 2005 and 2016 revealed an intensively used complex of the later Roman era. The site lies immediately above the north-south access route known as Barton Street, which runs parallel with the eastern edge of the Wolds, as it crosses the Waithe Beck. Now designated the A18, Barton Street is conventionally believed to have been an ancient routeway and is, for instance, shown by Todd, May and Whitwell as a Roman road with likely pre-Roman origins (Todd 1973, fig. 8; May 1976, 9, fig.4; Whitwell 1982, fig. 8; 2001, 15). Following systematic fieldwalking, the excavation of a trial trench and assessments of the collected archaeological finds, six excavation trenches were opened and entirely hand dug as a research and training exercise. The fieldwork was a joint undertaking combining teams from the University of Kent and The North-East Lincolnshire Archaeology and Local History Society (NELALHS). The work was directed and led by Steven Willis and David Robinson. Research and training, plus the free opportunity to participate in the discovery and learning process, were key aspects of an initiative that combined experienced fieldworkers, those enhancing their skills, students, volunteers and beginners. The work revealed comparatively well-preserved remains spanning the mid- to Late Roman period with a range of artefactual evidence for the use of the site in the Anglo-Saxon period. The main evidence dates to the fourth century, especially the later fourth century, an era when the site would, by conventional narratives, have been on the front line of the Roman Empire, facing barbarian incursions from the North Sea.

The excavations revealed and sampled ancient features consistent with the extensive pattern of anomalies detected by geophysical survey. The work principally mapped a coherent Late Roman settlement and field system with associated enclosures. Geophysics showed anomalies to be extensive across the areas surveyed with the suggestion of earlier use of the location in later prehistory, pointing to a longer sequence of use of the location. The Roman period evidence included a series of ovens, including comparatively well-preserved examples, some of which at least were associated with corn-drying, plus a likely threshing floor and associated deposits rich in archaeobotanical carbonized remains. Preserved cereal grains and other elements indicate crop-processing, with a range of crops identified. Faunal remains indicate livestock raising, with a likely focus upon cattle and probably horses. Examination of these various assemblages provides an understanding of the landscape and economy of this later Roman farming complex and something of the wider ‘commercial’ regime. Systematic metal detecting across the site assisted in the recovery of over one hundred and eighty coins, the large majority of Roman date. These, plus other metalwork, are reported, together with stratified pottery sequences.

Two nearby locations with further evidence of Roman date are also reported. A site known from surface finds on the opposite side of the valley to the complex at Hatcliffe Top, in the parish of Beelsby, is considered, having produced coins and pottery of Roman date and a Cumbrian stone implement of Neolithic date. Surface finds from the area of Round Hill by Hatcliffe village are also reported, including a likely non-literate curse tablet. Overall, the discoveries are fully presented and their interpretation is discussed and set against the broader historical and archaeological context, bringing together the emerging archaeological picture for a landscape hitherto hardly explored.

Item Type: Book
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Steven Willis
Date Deposited: 13 Dec 2017 22:33 UTC
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2022 22:33 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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