When Prehistoric Farming Begins: Kingsmead Quarry, Horton

Archaeological excavations in a quarry

Archaeological excavations in a quarry

Whilst working for Wessex Archaeology, I was privileged to play a minor part in a project which, over the course of numerous seasons of excavation, has proven to be rather exciting. Under the careful management of Gareth Chaffey and Alistair Barclay supported by a broad team of field archaeologists and other specialists, the site at Kingsmead Quarry, Horton (Berks) has given plenty of evidence for life over the last 12,000 years since the last ice age, particularly for Neolithic through to Bronze Age activities.

Neolithic House

Neolithic House

My meagre contribution was the project GIS, as you might expect. The scale of the GIS is quite considerable given the scale of the project. Developed over a number of years and populated with data drawn from the digital context recording system, finds databases and the digital survey data captured on site using TST and GNSS from each successive season of excavation, the GIS has been a key tool in interpreting and reporting on the site and undertaking phasing/grouping activities. The GIS was also used to undertake various bits of spatial analysis to test hypotheses regarding the site, for example to look at topography and investigate the results from the magnetic susceptibility surveys, supporting the interpretation of a doorway being used to sweep away ashes from the fire (8:18 in the video). Overall a great example of how spatial technologies can support the archaeological process.

Gareth and I also took some of the finds down to the Archaeological Computing Research Group (ACRG) at the University of Southampton to record them using Reflectance Transformation Imaging and Close Range Laser Scanning. Such techniques can be incredibly useful for examining the morphology of objects, particularly the surface detail and working patterns on flints and pottery.

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Palaeolithic flints from Horton

Palaeolithic flints from Horton

Gareth and Alistair have recently presented a talk on the project to the Society of Antiquaries of London, as blogged by Wessex Archaeology, which prompted this reminiscence. The video and slides of their presentation are presented below.

So congratulations to all the project team for their ground-breaking work and great to see this project getting the recognition it deserves: Well done indeed!