University of Leicester Archaeological Services

Later Prehistoric Asfordby, Leicestershire

Later Prehistoric Asfordby, Leicestershire

Image of member of ULAS machine stripping the Asfordby siteArchaeological excavations and a watching brief were carried out on site at Loughborough Road, Asfordby, Leics. between 2009 and 2011 by University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) in advance of and during development by Jelson Ltd. Excavations revealed features of Mesolithic, Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age and Iron Age date. Later agricultural activity was also recorded. The in-situ Mesolithic component of site included a flint scatter of probable ‘middle’ Mesolithic date, which was joint funded by Jelson Ltd and English Heritage and will be reported at a later date. During the excavations the later features also proved to be very significant. These later features included a cremation burial, several large pits, drainage gullies, post-hole structures, and reuse of tree-throw features. Fine Beaker wares and a substantial assemblage of worked flint were recovered during the excavations, and a limited carbon dating scheme has produced significant dates for this activity on site

Image of late Mesolithic worked flints from a tree throw at Asfordby site
The earliest evidence of significance after the 'middle' Mesolithic activity was represented by a large deposit of worked flint of later Mesolithic date. This flint was recovered from a tree throw, a void left after the uprooting of the roots of larger trees as they collapse. The worked flint was distributed through a layer indicating some soil movement on site with colluviation (hill wash) into this tree throw void.


Image of tree throw feature with cobbles and hearth materialFurther tree throws were recorded elsewhere on site, indicating forest clearance. One of these features produced a C14 date from charcoal at the crossover between the late Mesolithic and early Neolithic. A later tree throw had a cobble setting and hearth material slumping into its fill, as shown to the right. This produced a C14 date in the early Bronze Age.

Image of cremation pit (background) and ?associated pit at front, which produced cereal grains

This feature can perhaps be associated with a nearby cremation burial, and a pair of large pits that produced a substantial assemblage of Beaker pottery, the largest assemblage form the county. These also produced early Bronze Age C14 dates.


Image of one of the Beaker pits (pit 1)The Beaker pits
Beaker pit 1 is shown to the right. This produced pottery from at least two Beaker vessels, and some fine worked flint (below). The pit is a very substantial cut, and after excavation filled with water naturally from the surrounding groundwater, perhaps indicating an original use as a water pit. However it is perhaps possible it acted as a burial pit - it is certainly large enough to have held a typical crouched Beaker burial.


Image of selection of flint from Beaker pit 1


Image of Beaker pit 2, after excavation but with rusticated Beaker pot still in situ.Beaker pit 2 is shown to the right. This produced pottery from at least 16 Beaker vessels, and also worked flint. The pit is much less substantial than Beaker pit 1. it may have been dug deliberately as a receptacle for the near complete rusticated Beaker that can be seen at its base (right, and below). The other Beaker material included an extremely fine geometrically decorated vessel (below,right).

Image of near complete rusticated Beaker, found at base of pit 2Image of reconstructed geometric Beaker, found within pit 2. The pot was in pieces,and only partially complete.


Wayne Jarvis


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UPDATED: 11th April 2014
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