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Iron Age and Roman settlement including a saltern on Hall Meadow

A Scheduled Monument in Deeping St James, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 52.6885 / 52°41'18"N

Longitude: -0.2801 / 0°16'48"W

OS Eastings: 516349.790039

OS Northings: 311481.630549

OS Grid: TF163114

Mapcode National: GBR GWZ.G08

Mapcode Global: WHHMY.NPV8

Entry Name: Iron Age and Roman settlement including a saltern on Hall Meadow

Scheduled Date: 15 December 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009998

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20811

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Deeping St James

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Deeping St James

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln


The monument includes the site of an Iron Age saltern and settlement of
Iron Age and Roman date, located on a naturally undulating surface of
alluvial clay deposits which overlie an extensive gravel terrace to the
north of the River Welland, in the parish of Deeping St James. It is
visible under pasture as a series of earthworks, comprising artificial
mounds, rectilinear platforms and shallow gullies or ditches, and it has
been dated by finds of pottery fragments from the surface of the pasture
and adjacent fields.

The most prominent feature on the site is a large, roughly circular
mound, c.60m in diameter and standing to a height of c.1m above the
prevailing ground level. Its western edge extends beyond the pasture
for a distance of c.6m into the neighbouring field, where it stands up
to 0.4m high. To the north and south of this mound, and extending for
approximately 200m to the east, are other, lower mounds, of varying
form and regularity, and a network of intersecting gullies between 4m
and 7m wide and with a visible depth of c.0.3m to c.0.4m. These define
rectangular and sub-rectangular enclosures of varying size, some of
which contain one or more rectilinear building platforms c.0.4m in
height, also surrounded by ditches and with internal dimensions
ranging from c.6m by 12m to c.15m by 27m. Some of the gullies and
enclosures are aligned on a different axis from others, which suggests
that they were constructed at different times and possibly during quite
separate periods of occupation. Borehole sampling across the site has
shown that archaeological deposits resulting from occupation underlie
the surface to a depth of up to 1.5m, and the sampling also revealed a
broad ditch or water channel c.18m wide and 2.4m deep to the north of the
large mound on the west side of the site, now infilled but surviving as a
buried feature and containing waterlogged deposits. The large mound in
the western part of the site is considered to have been created during
the process of salt manufacture in the Iron Age and Roman periods and
some of the nearby gullies and platforms may also relate to this process.
Finds from on and around the site include, in addition to pottery,
fragments of fired clay of a type which forms the characteristic debris
of the salt extraction process.

Excluded from the scheduling are the field gates and all fences, and also
two water troughs with supply pipes, although the ground beneath these
features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

During the Roman period, particularly during the second century AD, the
Fenland silts around the Wash and areas on and close to the margins of the
peat fens were extensively and often densely occupied and farmed. Rural
settlements were small, comprising individual farmsteads or, more often,
groups of several farmsteads organised in small villages which, with their
associated field systems, were aligned along droves. Droves also served to
link loose clusters of neighbouring settlements in a branching and
intersecting network which might extend over several kilometres. The pattern
of settlement was determined chiefly by the requirements of stock management
and animal husbandry, exploiting pastures on the silts and higher ground, and
the summer grazing and winter fodder provided by the adjacent freshwater fens.
Although arable agriculture was almost certainly practised also, there was an
element of self sufficiency in craft production and in the exploitation of
local resources. Each farmstead was normally contained within a rectangular or
sub-rectangular enclosure or block of enclosures, demarcated by substantial
ditches and including low, thatched buildings of clay and wattle and daub on a
light timber frame, with working areas such as farmyard, stockyard, rickyards
and gardens alongside. Often the buildings were sited on natural hummocks or
on artificially raised platforms. The earliest of such settlements, which are
dated to the later first century AD, are generally very small and differ
little in general appearance from certain settlements of the preceding Iron
Age, although Iron Age settlements in the Fenland region are not so numerous
or widespread. During the second century, when small and large-scale
engineering projects, including the construction of roads and canals, were
carried out widely in the Fens, the size and complexity of the settlements
tended to increase and the layout of droves and fields to become more regular.
Many were, however, abandoned in the third century AD because of increasing
problems of flooding and drainage. Numerous Roman settlements of this type,
with their associated field systems, have been recorded in the Fens,
particularly through air photography, and they serve to illustrate both the
nature of small-scale farming during the period of the Roman occupation and
the ways in which a local population adapted to and exploited a particular
environment. Many of the sites have, however, been reduced by medieval and
later agriculture, and very few remain with upstanding earthworks, with a
varied range of identifiable features and/or evidence for the survival of
environmental remains. Consequently, all sites which survive as earthworks or
which have a varied range of identifiable features are considered to be of
national importance.

The settlement site on Hall Meadow survives very well, with many different
component features, including both upstanding earthworks and a substantial
depth of archaeological deposits below ground. The site as a whole will
retain a wide range of archaeological information concerning the organisation,
development and economy of the settlement over a long period of time, and
evidence for domestic life, farming practices and local industry will be
preserved in deposits in and beneath the mounds and building platforms, in the
associated yards, and in the fill of ditches and gullies. Organic materials,
including both artefacts and evidence of the local environment at the time,
will also be preserved in the waterlogged deeper deposits.

In both the Iron Age and Roman periods, in areas alongside estuaries and tidal
waterways, salt extraction, involving the channelling and ponding of salt or
brackish tidal water and evaporation by heating in shallow trays over hearths,
was an important local industry in the Fens. Such sites are often located by
the mounds of debris which the process generated. Most such mounds have been
flattened but a few early examples are known to survive as earthworks. On this
site the survival, in deep, undisturbed and wet deposits, of evidence relating
to this industry during the Iron Age is of particular interest.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Lane, T, 'Fenland Research' in Excavation And Evaluation Of An I A And R B Site At Market Deeping, , Vol. 7, (1992), 43-47
Dossier for H B M C, Fenland Evaluation Project: Lincolnshire, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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