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Landscape Evolution in the Middle Thames Valley Heathrow Terminal 5 Excavations Volume 2 Framework Archaeology Monograph No. 3 2010

Lewis, John and Leivers, Matt and Brown, Lisa and Smith, Alex and Cramp, Kate and Mepham, Lorraine and Phillpotts, Chris and Allen, Steven J and Brown, Kayt and Carruthers, Wendy and Challinor, Dana and Cooke, Nick and Crowther, John and Druce, Denise and Every, Rachel and Geber, Jonny and Grimm, Jessica M and Hamilton-Dyer, S and Healy, Frances and Huckerby, Elizabeth and Jones, Grace and Knight, S and Macphail, Richard and McKinley, Jacqueline and Peglar, Sylvia and Roe, Fiona and Scott, Ian and Stafford, Elizabeth and Tetlow, Emma and Nichols, Karen and James, Elizabeth and Brandon, Kitty and Donald, Niall (2010) Landscape Evolution in the Middle Thames Valley Heathrow Terminal 5 Excavations Volume 2 Framework Archaeology Monograph No. 3 2010. Project Report. Framework Archaeology.

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This volume presents the results of excavations at Heathrow
Airport, London Borough of Hillingdon, between 1996 and
2007, which were carried out in advance of the construction
of an additional passenger terminal complex (‘Terminal 5’),
together with associated facilities. The excavations were
undertaken as three main phases of work. In 1996 the
Museum of London Archaeology Service excavated c 4 ha of
sludge stockpile areas (site code POK96), while in 1999–2000,
Framework Archaeology excavated approximately 21 ha in
the Perry Oaks sludge works (site code WPR98) and adjacent
airport sites. The results of these phases of work have been
described in Volume 1 of this series (Framework Archaeology
2006). In 2002–2007 further excavations were carried out by
Framework Archaeology as part of the construction of
Terminal 5. The results of these excavations (site codes
PSH02 and TEC05) have been integrated with those
presented in Volume 1, and are the subject of this volume.
The earliest evidence for human activity revealed in
the Terminal 5 excavations comprised a number of pits
excavated by hunter-gatherers in the 7th or 6th millennia BC
at a location on the edge of the Colne floodplain, as well as a
complex of stakeholes of similar date on the floodplain itself.
During the first half of the 4th millennium BC a posthole
complex and a possible settlement were located along the
alignment of the subsequent C1 Stanwell Cursus, which we
believe to have been constructed in the latter half of the 4th
millennium BC. Remnants of at least three other cursus
monuments were also excavated, that together with a
possible fifth example and a small circular enclosure, clearly
demonstrates the transformation of this particular location
into a major ceremonial centre. In the space of a few centuries,
people had transformed the landscape from one
defined by memories of ancient locations to one defined by
the architecture of earthen banks and ditches. However, by
the latter half of the 3rd millennium, new monuments and
practices of artefact deposition signal a change in the way
people inhabited the landscape.
By 1700 BC this change was to lead to the replacement of
a system that apportioned land and resources through
ceremony to one of physical demarcation: the first land
tenure and field divisions. Settlements became archaeologically
visible and developed within a landscape of small and
large fields forming identifiable ‘farmsteads’, which were
traversed by double-ditched trackways. A multitude of
differing farming units developed within two distinct
landscapes, with evidence for a mixed arable / pastoral
agricultural economy, supplemented by resources from the
innumerable hedgerows which divided the fields. Within
these landscapes, people maintained links with the past
through ceremonies resulting in particular artefacts being
deposited in the base of waterholes. Identifying the a
bandonment of the Bronze Age agricultural system is very
difficult, though there is little specific evidence for any Early
Iron Age activity at Terminal 5, beyond a small number of
isolated features. However, major elements of the Bronze
Age agricultural landscape appear to have persisted in
some form well into this period and beyond.
In the Middle Iron Age we see the emergence of a nucleated
settlement of roundhouses, four-post structures and livestock
enclosures, practising an entirely subsistence-based
agricultural regime that was apparently biased towards a
pastoral economy. This settlement in turn became a focal
point for continuing occupation through into the later Iron
Age and early Roman period, although parts of the landscape
were radically altered at this time, with new alignments
of field systems largely overwriting the previous land
divisions. While pastoralism remained a fundamental part
of the agricultural economy, the evidence suggests an
increasing emphasis on cereal crops from the Late Iron Age
onwards. The settlement complex appears to have been
continually modified on a somewhat ad hoc basis into the
later Roman period. At this point radically new styles of
structure and wholesale changes to the eastern field systems
were introduced, resulting in a substantial ‘ladder’ enclosure
system, surrounding a major central droveway. This was
part of the wider social, political and economic changes of
the later Roman Empire. It cannot be proved that occupation
continued at Terminal 5 beyond the end of the 4th century
AD, although elements of the field and enclosure systems
may well have persisted for some time.
The remains of an early Saxon settlement were revealed to
the north-west of the main Roman settlement, although
there is little indication of any interaction between the two.
Instead, the evidence from the Saxon features provides a
picture of a drifting settlement within a sparsely occupied
land with limited evidence for arable cultivation. An
apparent desertion of the landscape is noted during the
mid Saxon period, with no further definitive evidence for
activity until the 11th or 12th century. New field systems
were established across much of the landscape at this period,
and a complex of enclosures and post-built structures, possibly
related to stock management, was constructed at Burrow
Hill within Stanwell parish. The post-medieval landscape
included some elements already in place by the late Saxon
period, while from the 15th century, further developments
of the medieval field system largely took the form of
enclosure of the common fields.
The character of the Heathrow area remained predominantly
rural well into the 20th century, until the Perry Oaks sludge
works were constructed in 1934 and the first phase of
Heathrow airport was built between 1944 and 1946.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Subjects: Geographical Areas > English Counties > Greater London
Period > UK Periods > Bronze Age 2500 - 700 BC
Period > UK Periods > Early Medieval 410 - 1066 AD
Period > UK Periods > Iron Age 800 BC - 43 AD
Period > UK Periods > Neolithic 4000 - 2200 BC
Period > UK Periods > Roman 43 - 410 AD
Divisions: Oxford Archaeology South > Fieldwork
Depositing User: Scott
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2023 10:12
Last Modified: 10 Nov 2023 10:12
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/7281

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