Project Summaries 2003
20. 6-8 Charlotte Square Newcastle: Archaeological Watching Brief
An archaeological watching brief was carried out during development works at 6-8 Charlotte Square, adjacent to the medieval town walls on the west side of Newcastle. Three foundation pits and trenches were investigated, but only one, on the line of an early nineteenth century building, produced masonry remains of any potential interest, in the form of a rough sandstone wall. Full excavation of this structure, however, suggested that it formed a foundation for the nineteenth century building behind the eighteenth century houses fronting Charlotte Square. A number of ceramic and other finds, dateable to the later medieval and early modern periods, attest to earlier phases of activity on the site. It was concluded that the development works behind Charlotte Square did not impact significantly upon either upstanding remains or sub-surface deposits of archaeological importance.
21. Princes Street Garage, Corbridge: Archaeological Evaluation
A programme of archaeological evaluation trenching was conducted on Princes Street, Corbridge, south Northumberland in Winter 2003-4. An archaeological assessment carried out in 2001 had provided contextual information regarding the archaeological and historical development of the area, demonstrating that it has been the focus of intensive human activity since later prehistory. The trenching was devised to determine the precise impact of the proposed scheme on the area's cultural heritage remains, and was focussed on the investigation of an area possibly containing archaeological features.
The excavation revealed little archaeological evidence of any significance other than features indicative of widespread medieval and later farming practices. Most of the trenches revealed deep deposits of agricultural or garden soil underlying modern surfaces, but one trench also revealed a shallow ditch cut into the sub-soil, the fill of which was analysed and found to contain charcoal, calcified bone and other remains consistent with domestic waste disposal. Associated and overlying finds of medieval coarse pottery, also displaying signs of sooting, suggested a date for the use of this feature between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries.
A recommendation was made for mitigation by archaeological watching brief.
22. Eldon Square Archaeological Assessment
A cultural heritage assessment was undertaken as part of the proposed Eldon Square improvement scheme.
The main findings of the assessment were that a number of successive phases of development have occurred within the bounds of the development area since the Norman period or earlier. However, the majority of potential remains of these periods of development have been removed, in turn, by each succeeding phase, leaving only isolated pockets of potential, principally along relatively undisturbed historic street frontages
Recommendations based on these findings called for archaeological evaluation along the Newgate Street frontage and in the area between Newgate Street and Clayton Street.
23. Heeston Bank, Northumberland: Archaeological Assessment
An archaeological assessment was carried out for a stretch of the A696 and adjoining land between Kirkwhelpington village and Knowesgate hamlet in central Northumberland.
It was concluded that a total of five identifiable landscape features of cultural heritage value would be directly impacted by the proposed road improvements. A number of other sites, most of which are recorded on the county SMR, fall within one kilometre of the site and may be visually or otherwise indirectly impacted. It was considered that the various features and monuments catalogued form part of a closely interrelated, well-preserved historic rural landscape. Despite their excellent state of preservation, however, none of the individual features identified on the line of the proposed works was considered of sufficient significance to warrant rejection of the road improvement proposal. The impacts would, however, require mitigation by record
Accordingly, specific recommendations were provided for the avoidance of certain features and the recording of others, notably boundary banks and rig & furrow earthworks by topographical and photographic survey.
24. Heeston Bank: Recording
Based on recommendations provided in an assessment of the site carried out in 200, archaeological recording work was carried out on an area of land adjoining the A696 between Kirkwhelpington village and Knowesgate hamlet in central Northumberland. Road straightening work resulted in the destruction of part of a system of holloways and other earthworks which extends up to 100 metres east of the road between West Whitehill farm and Kirkwhelpington village. In addition, a site works compound was constructed at the foot of the slope which also impacted upon, but did not wholly destroy, earthworks in that part of the site. A topographical survey of the area was carried out and photographs taken of specific features, resulting in measured plans and catalogued photographs. In addition, brief written descriptions and interpretations of the recorded features were provided, including the suggestion that traces of linear features running from south-west to north-east underlie the holloways system aligned south-east to north-west. It is concluded that the various components documented during the assessment and recording phases of cultural heritage work at Heeston Bank form part of a closely interrelated, well-preserved historic rural landscape which includes the remains of agricultural drainage, land divisions and droveways.
25. Park Hall, Ashbrooke, Recording
A photographic record was completed of Park House, a late Victorian residence in Ashbrooke, Sunderland. The structure is one of a number of villas constructed in the 1870s, prior to this period, the area was occupied by open farmland divided by enclosure period boundaries.
The report provides a brief summary of sources available for charting the history of Park Hall and gives details of photographs provided as a permanent record of the building which is earmarked for imminent demolition, along with the adjacent, modern Williamson Hall. Attention is drawn to a number of interesting or unusual internal and external features of the buildings, and a recommendation is made with respect to the possible salvage of some of these features for incorporation, where appropriate, in the new building complex to be constructed on the site.
26. Park Hall, Ashbrooke, Watching Brief
A watching brief was carried out following the demolition of Park Hall, formerly known as Park House, a late Victorian residence in Ashbrooke, Sunderland, and the neighbouring Williamson Hall, a modern college building. The watching brief continued a programme of archaeological investigation, which had previously included a photographic survey, and brief desktop appraisal of the site. The latter had concluded that prior to the construction of the hall, the area was occupied by open farmland divided by enclosure period boundaries. However, it was thought possible that earlier structures were present on the site, including prehistoric burial and settlement evidence of the sort known elsewhere in the locality. No observations of note were made during the watching brief and it was concluded that no features or finds of any cultural heritage significance were damaged or lost as a consequence of the development of the site, any such evidence having been lost during previous phases of disturbance.
27. Stannington Mitigation
This document provides a report on archaeological recording work carried out by means of photography and topographic survey in April 2003 on the west side of the A1 corridor north of Stannington in south-east Northumberland. The work was undertaken in advance of road improvements being carried out for Northumberland County Council which will impact upon features of cultural heritage significance. The recording work was based on recommendations provided in an assessment of the site carried out by the Archaeological Practice in July 2000. The recording work focused on two main groups of features: a system of agricultural earthworks of medieval or early post-medieval origin which will be damaged by the provision of a farm access track across it, and a Cold War period subterranean listening post which may be marginally impacted by road widening. The results of recording works are provided here in the form of measured plans and photographs with, in addition, brief written descriptions and interpretations of the recorded features. It was concluded that the various components documented during the assessment and recording phases of cultural heritage work at Stannington Junction form part of a closely interrelated, well-preserved historic rural landscape. The partial damage caused to this landscape by the present scheme of works was successfully mitigated by the combination of avoidance and recording recommended during the assessment phase.
28. York Road, Whitley Bay, Assessment
An archaeological assessment on a proposed development site at 10 York Road, Whitley Bay was carried out in advance of the demolition of the current structure. The available evidence suggests the medieval settlement of Whitley was centred on the present high street south of York Road, with back plots extending backwards as far as the south side of York road. There is no evidence for built structures extending into the back plots as far as the northern boundary of the village, however. Indeed, historic map evidence suggests that until the mid nineteenth century the site was unoccupied, being used only as arable land. The structure presently occupying the site first appears on the Third Edition Ordinance Survey map of 1919. No evidence for specific settlement or other activities within the site is available prior to the first half of the nineteenth century. Furthermore, no surviving structural remains or previous ground investigations suggest that significant remains of earlier activities are preserved there. Although there is no clear evidence to suggest that archaeological features exist under the site of 10 York Road, however, its proximity to Whitley House and the suggested medieval settlement suggests that archaeological deposits related to these periods may exist. It is considered that the survival of any remains is likely to have been compromised by the construction of the present structure sometime in the early twentieth century. The main specific recommendation based on the findings of the report was that a watching brief should be carried out during site excavation works.
29. PBP evaluation
This report describes a programme of archaeological evaluation trenching on land immediately to the south of the A197, two kilometres south-east of Pegswood in South-East Northumberland. The excavations were intended to inform the proposal by Northumberland County Council to excavate a borrow pit in this area during construction of the planned bypass south of Pegswood village. The trenching investigated features previously identified by a programme of geophysical evaluation.
Six trenches were opened on the site to investigate the features identified by geophysical survey.
The excavations confirmed the indications from the geophysical survey results that evidence of the earlier ridge-and-furrow pattern, in the form of infilled plough furrows, survived only fragmentarily across the field. This is in striking contrast to the pattern obtaining elsewhere in the vicinity. Extensive areas of plough furrows, preserved as rows of shallow linear cuts in the subsoil and representing medieval and early modern field systems, have been recorded by geophysical survey and excavation in the corridor of the Pegswood Bypass and A1-A192 Link Road. Moreover, aerial photographs show that well-preserved ridge-and-furrow earthworks survived across the entire field at least as late as 1958. In addition, the older terracotta field drains were all found to lie at a very shallow depth. Together, these findings suggest that significant erosion of the subsoil may have taken place in the field as a result of a combination of modern intensive arable farming practices and the field's sloping topography. Such erosion is likely to have had a significant negative impact on the survival of archaeological remains associated with earlier periods of human activity.
30. A1-192 Evaluation
This report describes a programme of archaeological evaluation trenching conducted to further inform a proposal for the construction of a Link Road between the A1 and the A192 to the north east of Morpeth in south-east Northumberland. An assessment carried out in 2002 demonstrated that it had been the focus of intensive human activity since later prehistory.
The most prevalent archaeological remains revealed by assessment and geophysical survey within the corridor of easement comprise extensive areas of ridge and furrow cultivation features, along with associated land divisions and settlement remains. Traces of late prehistoric and Romano-British settlements are also represented, along with post-medieval industrial and modern military sites.
The assessment of the area concluded that two fields of significantly upstanding ridge and furrow earthworks would be directly and substantially impacted by construction of the A1-A192 Link. It further concluded that several possible features identified by the geophysical investigation would be impacted by the construction of the link road, including areas of levelled ridge and furrow, possible ditched features or drains, headland feature, 'kiln' and arcuate feature.
The investigation of these features by archaeological trenching revealed little archaeological evidence of any significance, other than features indicative of widespread medieval and later farming practices. Most of the trenches revealed evidence of modern field drains, which represented the most widespread class of features discovered by excavation and along with plough furrows can be linked to the majority of linear anomalies identified on the geophysical plot. Plough furrows, field lynchets and a possible township boundary ditch were also recorded.
Episodes of intensive agricultural activity during the medieval and post-medieval periods have probably been responsible for removing most traces of earlier activity in the area, while the ridge and furrow earthworks have themselves been levelled by modern ploughing.
Accordingly, no further archaeological evaluation or mitigation measures were recommended with respect to the features investigated by the excavations.
30A. Newton Underwood
This document provides a report on a second phase of archaeological recording work carried out on a standing building at the ‘Old Walls’ site, Newton Underwood, Northumberland. The analysis of investigations undertaken in 1999 show that an eighteenth century farmhouse incorporated the partial remains of an earlier structure and abuts a substantial stone archway. This earlier phase of investigations recorded the exterior of the farmhouse and archway and evaluated sub-surface remains in the vicinity, but was unable to record the interior of the farmhouse. Subsequent work to make the building safe allowed the recording of the interior to proceed. Accordingly, a rectified photographic survey of the internal building elevations was carried out by the Archaeological Practice Ltd. in November 2002.
The most significant feature recorded during the recent phase of works was the remains of a two-light window in the farmhouse east wall which appears to be an in situ feature of the pre-farmhouse structure, tentatively dated 16th/17th century. Also on this wall were the remains of early painted wall decoration.The only recommendation for further work on the site is that additional rectified photographic recording of the exterior of the farmhouse east wall should be carried out following the removal of grouting.