Monument record MCC5666 - Birch Pit, Maldon Road, Birch, Colchester, Essex


Excavation at Birch Pit, Maldon Road, Birch, Colchester, 2007


Grid reference Centred TL 9234 1927 (617m by 417m)
Map sheet TL91NW


Type and Period (7)

Full Description

An archaeological excavation was carried out at Birch Pit in 2007 on behalf of Hanson Aggregates. This was due to the expansion of the extraction area on the western side of the quarry-pit, immediately to the east of Palmer's Farm and to the north of Maldon Road, Birch.<1>

A few Late Bronze Age features were revealed. In the southwestern part of Area D, two pits (F233 and F238) were dated to the Late Bronze Age. F238, c.2.9m wide x 1.7m deep, was interpreted as a possible waterhole and contained a large assemblage (over 4kg) of Late Bronze Age pottery. A few other small pits or post-holes might also have been prehistoric and of similar date. Close to F238, there were three small pits or possibly postholes, which may also be of Late Bronze Age date. One of these features (F264) contained flint-tempered prehistoric sherds, which could be Bronze Age or possibly
Early Iron Age in date. F237 did not contain any finds. It is conceivable that neadrby ditch F232 could also be of Late Bronze Age date as the only finds recovered from it were prehistoric flint-tempered pottery sherds. However, some of these sherds were abraded, and the spatial relationship of F232
to other features dated to Period 2 indicate that it was (more likely) of Late Iron Age or early Roman date. There was also a small quantity of pottery dated as Early and Middle Iron Age, all of which was residual in later-dated features.

The most intensive period of occupation recorded dated to the Late Iron Age and Roman periods (Phase 1a: late Iron Age-early Roman; Phase 1b: early-mid Roman). Most of the features comprised ditches forming enclosures, aligned NE to SW and NW to SE, one of which had a ditched track or droveway on the west side. These features indicate stock management, probably primarily of cattle. Apart from two large pits (F145 and F172), dated to the mid to late Roman period (contained md 3rd to 4th cneuy pottery), most of the remaining features which could be attributed to this period consisted of pits, and small pits or post-holes; no definite buildings were revealed. Evidence of iron-working, including the bottom of a smithing hearth, was recovered from two of the mid-late Roman (Phase 2) enclosure ditches (F163 and F218).

The medieval and post-medieval period saw the establishment of a field system of fields with ditched tracks or droveways, probably associated primarily with sheep farming. There is little evidence of occupation in this area during this period, although a few pits of post-medieval date probably indicate settlement close to the north-eastern part of the excavated area Area D. In the modern period, this field system was replaced by one of ditches forming arable fields. The overall orientation of the post-Roman and modern field system, as represented by ditches, is similar to the orientation of the land divisions of the Roman period. While there is no direct continuity of features, this suggests a continuity in the overall orientation and arrangement of the field system.<1>

The archaeological work consisted of an excavation adjacent to the north and west sides of areas previously excavated in 2004 and 2005-6 (CAT Report 383).<2>

Sources/Archives (2)

  • <1> EXCAV REPORT: Benfield, Stephen and Spurgeon, Emma. 2008. An archaeological excavation at Birch Pit, Stage 3 western extension, Maldon Road, Birch, Colchester, Essex. July-August 2007. CAT Report 485.
  • <2> EXCAV REPORT: Benfield, Stephen. 2007. Archaeological investigations at Birch Pit western extension, Maldon Road, Colchester, Essex. 2004 and 2005-6. CAT Report 383.

Finds (6)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Events/Activities (2)

Record last edited

Jan 22 2018 11:44AM

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