Muddy day at Watton

Last Friday, Jim West, Ellen and I spent a cold and muddy morning trying to complete the survey at Broomhall Farm, Watton-at-Stone.  This survey has a long history.  It started as a training exercise for UCL students in 2008 when we surveyed a small area of a piece of pasture using a variety of instruments.  We found two ditches, one of which proved to be Roman and one from the cusp of the Iron Age/Roman periods.  Two years later I had to teach another geophysics course and so we returned.  More interesting features were revealed and so the Welwyn Archaeological Society surveyed the majority of the pasture with the Bartington.  In addition to the original two ditches we found two sides of a possible enclosure and a horseshoe shaped feature in the middle.  Again, they all were very late Iron Age / early Roman.  (Many thanks to Isobel Thompson for looking at the ceramics for WAS.)  The finds included a Dressel 1b amphora handle.

Fast-forward to May 2013 and we had our training day with the Foerster cart system in the pasture, and the first “real site” we surveyed was in the arable field called Cartway to the east of the original pasture.  Unfortunately we ran out of time due to the crops and so we have now returned with the aim of completing the survey of this exciting site.

Unfortunately, the mud hindered the operation of the cart!

The muddy wheels.

The muddy wheels.

We did, however, manage to complete four partial squares before the weather and the mud finally drove us away,

The magnetometer surveys at Six Acres/Cartway.

The magnetometer surveys at Six Acres/Cartway.

The image of the results is a rather crude mash-up of the Bartington and Foerster surveys as I have to convert our floating grid coordinates into real-world coordinates before I can plot them accurately,  The survey to the west inside the field boundaries is the Bartington, that to the east the Foerster,  In the Foerster data it appears that we have picked up a series of ditches which are probably field and enclosure ditches surrounding a small Roman period farmstead.  It is probable that the western enclosure had gone out of use in the early Roman period but the Roman farmstead continued to be occupied.

I will be adding some more pages to this blog with descriptions of some of the sites we are working on, and of the techniques we have been using.

We could do with some more help finishing these sites.  I realise that working in the mud and cold is not as attractive as in the sunshine in Verulamium Park!


One thought on “Muddy day at Watton

  1. Geoffrey B. dannell

    I was fascinated to see your survey results As Ver was my first site in 1955, and I supervised for SSF in the late 50s and early 60s, I still have a great interest (and affection) for the site. I go over to see SSF fairly often. Is there any chance of some decent print-outs which I could show him, or has that already been done?

    All best,

    Geoffrey Dannell FSA


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