Excavations at Knowl Hill


Thanks to Ann Griffin, we have permission to excavate a site in Knowl Hill.  A Romano-British structure had been excavated nearby in the 1930s andthere were surface finds of burnt flint that were postulated as being signs of human activity.

We carried out a geophysics survey of this site in 2014 and found an “S” shaped anomaly which may be a dump of modern material or the remains of older activity.  We also found the remains of a field system with a drove road and adjacent rectangular paddocks.  The plan was to repeat some of the geophysics and then excavate two trenches, one across each anomaly.  The trench leaders were Alison McQuitty and Ann Griffin supported by Tim Lloyd and Andrew Hutt. Finds processing was led by Anne Harrison.

Interim report

On Tuesday 10thApril, after it had been raining for several days, a group of us started work at Knowl Hill to investigate the anomalies found in a geophysics survey of the site in 2014.  The site consisted of two paddocks separated by a wire fence.  We reinstated the 2014 survey grid and started to investigate the “S” shaped anomaly in southern paddock by opening our first trench. It filled with water draining out of the field.

After that we laid out trench 2 on the northern end of the anomaly at the presumed junction with a linear feature that extended N-S ish across the whole hill-top. We also augured a line of 5 bore holes across the southern end that reached soggy sand. These proved that the “S” shaped anomaly was either natural or may be a dump of clay material. The Geological Survey shows both clay and sand as occurring in this part of the Thames Valley.

Trench 2 with topsoil removed. The bucket in the corner is covering a sondage that filled with water when first dug. By the following week the trench had dried out enough to excavate to 1m depth.

The next week we opened trench 3 across a series of anomalies which probably represent the remains of the banks and ditches of a field system.  This trench revealed the remains of a ditch about 1m wide and 20mm deep under the plough soil with a small pottery sherd in the ditch fill.

Since no obvious or significant human activity was revealed in the excavations, we closed the trenches and left.

Site plan showing geophysics results and trenches