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Walton palisaded enclosure excavation 2010


Walton pallisaded enclosure, photo 86-C-0107 © CPAT

A programme of excavation and geophysical survey was undertaken in 2009-10 to investigate the palisaded enclosure at Walton. The site lies to the west and north of Walton village, between the Summergil Brook and Riddings Brook (SO 25355986) at an altitude of approximately 189mOD.

The enclosure was discovered by J K St Joseph in 1975 and consists of a curvilinear alignment of pits visible as individual cropmarks on aerial photographs. The cropmarks are only apparent in fields to the west of the B4357, curving southwards across the A44 and to the south-east as far as the Riddings Brook. The similarity with the Hindwell palisaded enclosure is clear and the cropmarks are likely to represent the western side of an enclosure measuring about 300m across, which is possibly associated with a double alignment of pits forming an avenue to the south-west. The presence of the pit avenue has drawn comparisons with Meldon Bridge, Peeblesshire.

Walton pallisaded enclosure

Trial excavation by CPAT in 1998 investigated an area measuring 11m by 9m immediately to the west of the B4357, identifying an oval pit c. 4.3m long and 2m wide, for a post 0.4m or more in diameter, with a post ramp to one side. Prior to this a programme of magnetometer and resistivity survey had been undertaken in 1995 in an attempt to define at least part of the enclosure to the east of the B4357, where cropmark evidence is lacking. The results for the magnetometry were rather disappointing and although the resistivity did produce a number of anomalies, from which an arc was projected as a best fit for the line of the palisade, this was far from convincing.

As part of the current project a magnetometer survey was undertaken by CPAT in November 2009 in a pasture field on the eastern side of the B4357. In part this involved resurveying an area investigated in 1998, although the methodology was such that it gave a density of readings four times that of the original survey, which it was hoped might produce more satisfactory results. Despite the increased density of readings the survey failed to identify either the arc of the palisaded enclosure, or the ditches associated with the Roman marching camp. A further phase of geophysical survey was undertaken by ArchaeoPhysica, on behalf of CPAT, employing caesium vapour magnetometry, which is considerably more sensitive than standard magnetometry. The results were not entirely convincing, however, although careful analysis of the data did reveal two possible arcs of pits, one of which could represent the perimeter of the palisaded enclosure.

Walton pallisaded enclosure, pit section

Recent excavations investigated a single pit immediately to the west of that investigated in 1998, revealing a large post ramp around 3.6m in length and up to 1.5m deep. At the north-eastern end of the pit was a substantial post pit about 1.1m in diameter and up to 2.05m in depth, with near vertical sides and clear evidence for a post pipe between 0.65m and 0.7m in diameter. Although there was no evidence to suggest that the post had been charred, as at Hindwell, samples of charcoal were recovered from various levels within the postpit and ramp which it is hoped will provide at least one radiocarbon date.


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