Metal detecting holidays in England with the World's most successful metal detecting club.

Twinned with Midwest Historical Research Society USA



Professional Desktop survey of our land completed Nov 2005 Page 2


This survey was commissioned and paid for privately by us to help understand better the history of our local area in which we detect and the amazing discoveries we have been making. Sussex Archaeology were chosen out of all the professional groups that can tender for this type of work as they portray the perfect example of detectorists and archaeologists working together in perfect harmony to improve the history of the local area.

Page 1 continued - Archaeology South-East

6.3 The walkover survey was largely unfruitful. The field had recently been harvested, and the ground cover comprised thick straw stubble and grass, reducing the likelihood of observing artefactual material to practically nil. No comprehensive fieldwalking survey was attempted. The field has been subjected to modern arable cultivation for many years, precluding the survival of any earthworks, or other form of upstanding archaeological feature.
6.4 The fields were generally flat in aspect


7.1 A preliminary review of the cultural heritage evidence detailed earlier indicates that the site has archaeological potential. This archaeological potential is considered by period and then in terms of significance.
7.2 Prehistoric: Palaeolithic – Neolithic
7.2.1 No finds relating to the Palaeolithic and only one artefact of Mesolithic date have been found within the study area, and although chance finds of unstratified worked flints are a possibility from either period, these are of relatively limited archaeological value due to their secondary deposition. Two Neolithic finds within the study area would also suggest limited human activity in the immediate landscape during this period. However, many Early Bronze Age traditions have their antecedents in the Late Neolithic, and because of the significant nature of
the Bronze Age activity nearby, as identified from air photographs, the identification of Neolithic material, or structures, within the site boundaries, should not be entirely dismissed.
7.2.2 The potential of the appraisal site for this period is low, with only a moderate potential for Neolithic material.

7.3 Prehistoric: Bronze Age
7.3.1 Two Bronze Age finds have been made within the study area itself, a cremation urn probably associated with a ploughed-out round barrow, and a socketed bronze axe. In addition, the locality around the site, just to the west, is a seminal site for this period. Ardleigh itself has become synonymous with a typological subgroup
of the Deverel-Rimbury Bronze Age tradition. In Britain it is during this period that the archaeological evidence reveals the emergence of agriculturally based sedentary communities, foreshadowing the modern intensively farmed landscape. As such the site is within a particularly archaeologically sensitive area. Cropmark evidence indicates the presence of at least three barrow cemeteries of this period within the site, and there may also be field systems of a similar date.
7.3.2 The potential for the recovery of archaeological data relating to this period within the site is considered to be high.

7.4 Prehistoric: Iron Age
7.4.1 Considerable numbers of coins of this period, many of them gold, have been recovered from around the locality of the site. The exact circumstances and nature of their deposition is still unclear, and the recovery of further examples, and their contextual study, is still very much a work-in-progress. Nevertheless, the amount of material found indicates that activities of some importance were taking place in this area during this period, involving both single coin loss and the burial of hoards. Many of the rectilinear cropmarks that exist on the site may also date from this period, although the two forms of evidence cannot at present be linked in any specific or certain manner.
7.4.2 The potential for the recovery of archaeological data relating to this period within the site is considered to be high.

7.5 Roman
7.5.1 One archaeological find of Roman origin has been found within the study area, comprising one gold coin. This is of little significance. Of more interest are the linear cropmarks that exist within the site. Some of these may be of Romano- British date, indicating re-use of existing agrarian features, and probably becoming embedded into a complex network of contemporary Roman field systems.
7.5.2 The potential for the identification of archaeological data relating to this period within the site is considered to be high.
7.6 Anglo-Saxon
7.6.1 Little is known about Anglo-Saxon in this area, although the settlement probably formed one larger estate The present church may not have existed until at least the later Saxon period. A number of Saxon artefacts
have been recovered in recent years during metal-detecting forays, but it is difficult at present to interpret them as anything more than casual losses.
7.6.2 The potential for the identification of archaeological data relating to this period within the site is considered to be low.

7.7 Medieval
7.7.1 Three finds relating to the study area are recorded by the SMR for this period, although all three are contained within the churchyard and are contextually specific to that site. The appraisal area itself was probably agricultural land at this date, and there may therefore be potential for the remains of field systems to be encountered, even though they are not readily apparent through examination of the cropmark evidence. One of the cropmarks may represent a possible windmill mound of medieval or later date.
7.7.2 The potential for the identification of archaeological data relating to this period within the site is considered to be moderate.

7.8 Post-Medieval
7.8.1 The examination of post-medieval maps clearly shows that for much of this period the appraisal site itself, and much of the surrounding landscape have been arable farmland, subject to varying degrees of enclosure. It is unlikely therefore, that any unrecorded archaeological features of later Post-medieval date lie within the site. However, the former existence of short-lived agricultural buildings not represented on the maps should be borne in mind, and one of the cropmark features may relate to a possible windmill mound of medieval or later date.
7.8.2 The potential for the identification of archaeological data relating to this period within the site is considered to be moderate.

Celtic gold finds from 70 BC


8.1 The site is situated on sand and gravel substrate. Sandy soils such as these tend to be acidic in nature. The acidity will probably have adversely affected the survival of bone material, metalwork and low-fired prehistoric and Saxon pottery. Other pottery, i.e. of the Roman and Medieval periods may still be in reasonable condition but survival (of all other artefactual material) can be very variable depending on the localised burial environment. Sub-surface survival of flint though, is likely to have been good.
8.2 The area is likely to have been under a mixed arable/pastoral regime from the late prehistoric period onward. Intensive cultivation by modern farm machinery is likely to have been extensive. This will have impacted upon the archaeological resource to some degree, with truncation of sub-surface deposits expected.
8.3 The cropmark evidence clearly indicates that the prehistoric, and Roman landscape will not necessarily have respected the modern field and settlement pattern. Consequently, such prehistoric and Roman settlements that have existed, and potentially survive beneath the plough soil may not relate to the existing landscape form.

8.4 In summary it would appear that past and present arable cultivation is likely to have had the most adverse impact on the likely archaeological resource of the site area, although to what degree is uncertain. Acidic ground conditions may have destroyed or badly damaged the preservation of specific types of material remains.

Celtic gold finds from 50 BC


9.1 A desk-based assessment can generally only consider the potential of a site in principle. As is the case here, its conclusions usually require testing by fieldwork in order to confirm whether remains are actually present and, if this is the case, to establish their character, condition and extent and thus indicate the weight that ought to be attached to their preservation. It must always be acknowledged that remains of a type for which there is no prior evidence may be found on a site by fieldwork.
9.2 The potential for discovery of new sites has been revealed by a review of known archaeological sites in the immediate vicinity. The estimated potential for sites and/or findspots being located within the appraisal area can be summarised thus:

Palaeolithic - Low
Mesolithic - Low
Neolithic – Moderate
Bronze Age - High
Iron Age - High
Romano-British - High
Anglo-Saxon - Low
Medieval - Moderate
Post-Medieval - Moderate

9.3 The cartographic evidence has revealed a relatively static landscape, in which field enclosure has been the predominant factor. Agricultural practices, especially those of the 20th-century may have truncated or even destroyed shallow archaeological deposits, but deeper features (pits, ditches, building foundations, etc.) may still survive. However, cropmark evidence, combined with recent excavations in the locality, seems to suggest that a Late Bronze Age to Romano-British agricultural landscape may have once been deeply embedded within the landscape.
9.4 To conclude, the area and surrounding environs are rich in archaeological material, especially from the Bronze Age through to the Romano- British period. By comparison, a comparative hiatus of human activity seems to
have occurred after this period, resulting in a concomitant dearth of material, right through till the present time. However, the area pays testament to the concept of landscape as a palimpsest, with surviving layers of evidence from different historical periods superimposed upon each other. Therefore on consideration of a number of lines of evidence, the appraisal site is considered to be of generally high archaeological potential.

Celtic gold hoard 1stC


10.1 A number of preliminary recommendations will be offered in this section to provide a suggested framework for future research. The site is not under threat from development, and is currently not under intensive agricultural cultivation.
10.2 A useful first stage would be to continue with non-intrusive methods of investigation. Large and complex systems of cropmarks are recorded on aerial photographs of the site, many of which have been plotted onto base maps. However, it would be a worthwhile exercise to complete this process to produce a complete record. This is a reasonably technical procedure as the photographs are oblique and would need to be rectified before plotting could take place. This can be carried out by utilising a number of GIS-based software programs.
10.2 A second stage of non-intrusive fieldwork would be to conduct a geophysical survey of the site. Although gravel subsoils are not ideal for resistivity, the clarity of the cropmarks suggests that magnetometry would produce good results. The ability to check the geophysics results against the rectified cropmark plots would
allow the geophysics plot to be used as a predictive tool to identify further areas of archaeological significance that may not have produced cropmarks.
10.3 Completion of the above tasks would provide a comprehensive set of accurately located targets that could then be investigated by trial trenching. An evaluation in the form of trial trenching would help to establish with a greater degree of certainty the presence or absence of any archaeological features, and would provide a relatively economical method for establishing the character, dating and degree of preservation of the cropmarks. This information would then be invaluable in formulating research designs for any projected future research based
fieldwork on the site, which should incorporate a thorough study of the extensive metal-detecting finds that have been recovered over recent years.


Archaeology South-East would like to thank the following for their help and advice in the preparation of this report: Colchestertreasurehunting, Nigel Brown, Sally Gale and Pat Connell (Essex County Council)
The staff at the Essex County Records Office, both in Colchester and Chelmsford.

All maps and ariel photos are available to view by members only

12.0 The next stage is a full Geophysic investigation of the site.


Bedwin, O. (ed.), 1996. The Archaeology of Essex, Essex County Council.
Brown, N., 1999. The Archaeology of Ardleigh: Excavations 1955-1980, East Anglian Archaeology 90.
Brown, N. & Germany, M., 2002. ‘Jousting at Windmills? The Essex Cropmark Enclosures Project’, Essex Archaeology and History 33.
Brown, N., Knopp, D., & Strachan, D., 2002. ‘The archaeology of Constable Country: the crop-marks of the Stour Valley’, Landscape History 24.
Buckley, D.G. (ed.), 1980. Archaeology in Essex to AD 1500, Council for British Archaeology Research Report 34.
de Jersey, P., 1996. Celtic Coinage in Britain, Shire.
Erith, F.H., 1964. Colchester Archaeological Group Quarterly Bulletin .
Erith, F.H., 1968. Colchester Archaeological Group Quarterly Bulletin
Field, J., 1993. A History of English Field-Names, Longman.
Hedges, J., 1980. ‘The Neolithic in Essex’ in Buckley 1980.
Holgate, R., 1996. ‘Essex c.4000-1500 BC’ in Bedwin 1996.
Hunter, J., 1999. The Essex Landscape, Essex Record Office.
Kemble, J., 2001. Prehistoric and Roman Essex, Tempus.
Morant, P., 1768. The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex, Vol. I.
Pitts, M. & Roberts, M., 1997. Fairweather Eden: Life in Britain half a million years ago as revealed by the excavations at Boxgrove, Century Books Ltd.
Rackham, O., 1986. The History of the Countryside, Dent.
RCHM(E), 1922. An Inventory of the Historic Monuments of Essex: The Monuments of North East Essex, HMSO.
Reaney, P., 1969. The Place-Names of Essex, English Place-Name Society.

Roberts, B. & Wrathmell, S., 2000. An Atlas of Rural Settlement in England, English Heritage.
Rippon, S., 1996. ‘Essex c.700 – 1066’, in Bedwin 1996. Victoria County History, 1907. A History of Essex, Vol. II
Wymer, J.J., 1980. ‘The Palaeolithic of Essex’, in Buckley 1980.

1777, Chapman & Andre, Atlas of Essex
1796-1800, Ordnance Survey Draft Drawings, 1-inch Old Series
1839, Tithe Map
1844, Tithe Map
1875, Ordnance Survey 6-inch, 1st ed.
1875, Ordnance Survey 25-inch, 1st ed
1875, Ordnance Survey 25-inch, 1st ed
1897, Ordnance Survey 25-inch, 2nd ed
1897, Ordnance Survey 25-inch, 2nd ed
1923, Ordnance Survey 25”, New Series
1923, Ordnance Survey 25”, New Series


Back to Page 1