Last week we looked at the recording side of archaeology and mentioned the quantities and detail of data produced on a site this scale. This week, as we bring the onsite investigations towards their conclusion, we thought it was time to provide some of our initial broad-brush findings.
This plan shows the archaeology revealed, and while in places ditches have been ploughed out, especially towards the south, we can still get a good understanding of how the landscape was used.
Here, archaeological features are shown green and natural features are orange.
As mentioned previously, the parallel ditches of the ‘drove way’ dominate the site from left to right. Enclosures and field systems fed off this at right angles, showing a well-managed and maintained landscape. The ditches were cleaned out repeatedly, sometimes ‘migrating’ in the process but showing a longevity in its use. The workload would have been too much for a single family and is suggestive of a group working together, either under the control of a governing body or as part of a collective.
Artefactual material recovered during the course of the work has shown the importance of grain crops, sheep/goat and cattle to the Prehistoric population of Cholsey and it is clear that the rich and productive soils astride the Thames gave them access as to fairly far reaching trade routes including pottery coming from mainland Europe. Put together with previous archaeological investigations in and around the village, we can begin to picture the first chapter in the history of Cholsey, 4,000 years in the making.
Now that we are beginning to understand how the population worked the landscape what can we tell about the individual people themselves? In our next and final update we will look at what we have been able to discover so far about the individuals that lived here.