Archaeological Works along the Southeast Aylesbury Link Road

HAT, 15 December 2022 - About Archaeology in Buckinghamshire , Recent archaeological finds

Since March 2022, a team from CFA/AOC Archaeology have been present during groundworks being carried out in advance of construction of the Southeast Aylesbury Link Road. This team has ensured any archaeological remains encountered have been professionally excavated, recorded and analysed. In time, the results of the works will be published, allowing the public to learn about previous human activity within this corner of Aylesbury.

The first works undertaken were in advance of a required cabling route. The image below shows a concentration of significant archaeological remains along this corridor, where evidence of a settlement dating to the Romano-British period was recorded. Other significant finds from this area included human burials and a ‘well pit’ containing well preserved waterlogged planks and timbers which also dated to the Romano-British period.

Throughout the strip, Galliford Try have used drone photography to give a useful overview of the archaeological works.

Although most of the evidence indicated that the settlement was of Romano-British date, there was also evidence of activity from the preceding Iron Age period. In other areas along the scheme, archaeological features included ditches, furrows and pits from the medieval and post-medieval periods which indicated farming.

Each pit is half excavated so that a profile through it may be recorded. Each archaeological feature is given a unique number indicated by the board and the direction of view is also recorded. Iron Age (750 BC to AD 43) pottery was recovered from this pit.

In order to investigate a large spread of archaeological material, a ‘checkerboard’ excavation was used. This allowed continuous sections through the spread to be drawn at different points along each axis. The white buckets contain samples of soil from the spread which will later be sieved in order to collect seeds, pollen, insect or other remains which may help us understand the environment. Some remains recovered in this way, such as wood or charcoal may also be dated using radiocarbon or other scientific dating techniques.

Below shows the excavation of a large ‘well pit’. We know that this pit dates to the Romano-British period because of pottery recovered from it. The excavation is stepped out for the safety of the archaeologists.

Waterlogged wood was discovered at the base of the ‘well pit’. A specialist in waterlogged wood visited the site and confirmed the methods of working the timbers to be Roman. In order to ensure that these timbers do not degrade, they are kept in cold storage prior to analysis.

The above shows a digital drawing of one of the six adult skeletons discovered so far (a child burial was also excavated).

By far the earliest artefact so far discovered is an ‘Acheulian’ hand axe dating to the Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) period about 200,000 years BC.