Iron Age settlement found near Brixworth in Northamptonshire

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An archaeologist records one of the many features found during the evaluation.

In 2014, archaeologists from ULAS investigated a 7 hectare area of agricultural land situated between the A508 and Pitsford Reservoir, just south of Brixworth in Northamptonshire. The evaluation was undertaken as part of an archaeological impact assessment in advance of proposed residential development.

Work targeted previously identified geophysical anomalies and revealed an array of archaeological features, including ditches, gullies and post-holes. These appear to represent a series of enclosure systems, property/land boundaries and possible structures including one roundhouse; evidence of intensive local occupation dating from the mid-Iron Age through to the 2nd century AD. Of the thirty-five trenches investigated, twenty-eight contained archaeology.

Iron Age activity focused around three enclosures and a trackway on a north-west to south-east alignment in the centre of the site. The size and steepness of the enclosure ditches might suggest a defensive function or expression of status; however, the small finds assemblage could point to a non-domestic site. Double-ditched enclosures similar to those at Brixworth are relatively common in Northamptonshire and there are several known examples of small enclosure groups of a similar date and size.

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Plan showing geophysical results and trench locations.

To the north and south two discrete areas of complex Roman archaeology was identified, dating predominately to the late 1st–2nd century AD. At present, the function of the Iron Age enclosures is unclear. Substantial quantities of charred grain from several feature indicate cereal processing close-by but an otherwise scant finds assemblage perhaps suggest a non-domestic function. Roman archaeology was well preserved and appears to be of a domestic nature.

The site lies in an area rich in archaeological deposits from the Bronze Age through to the Roman period with the landscape divided by a series of long linear boundaries with broad or double-ditched enclosures abutting them. Continuation of occupation from the Iron Age to the Roman period seems to be a consistent feature, although there is no evidence from the excavations at Brixworth to suggest the utilisation of an older Bronze Age landscape.

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