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The Anglo-Saxon period dates from the end of the Roman period in AD 410, right up to the Norman Conquest in 1066. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Germanic migrants (Angles,Saxons and Jutes) settled here bringing new ideas, practices and cultures which gradually become incorporated in British life. The early Saxon period (5th to 7th century AD) is often known as the ‘Dark Ages’ due to the lack of archaeological evidence, which many believe indicates a collapse of ‘civilised’ life.
A Beaker Burial is a crouched (curled up) human burial accompanied by a large highly decorated pot known as a Beaker. Grave goods such as flint arrowheads or bronze daggers can also accompany the burial. The Beaker culture is first apparent in Britain in the late Neolithic/early Bronze Age period, at approximately 2300 BC.
The Bronze Age in Britain dates from approximately 2200 BC to 700 BC, and represents the period when bronze was introduced for tool manufacture, although flint tools continue to be used. Cereal cultivation and a more sedentary lifestyle, in the form of larger settlements also become more widespread.
A Burnt Mound is a term used at Yarnton to refer to a hollow in the ground filled with burnt stone. In other contexts it may refer to an upstanding mound of burnt stone. It is generally assumed that these features relate to cooking activities during the Bronze Age.
A Causeway is a man-made crossing point to allow both humans and animals to cross anything from a relatively small boggy ditch to a large waterlogged palaeochannel. Causeways are often built with successive layers of sand and gravel, and occasionally more substantial structures are built with stone and wood.
Corn Dryers, developed in the Roman period, are stone built ovens used to artificially dry corn. Corn dryers were most likely to have been used for the roasting of grains for the production of malt wheat for brewing beer, or the drying of grain in preparation for grinding or storage.
The term Cremation deposit refers to fragments of human bone, often just a few grams, that have been burnt white in colour.
Embryonic Village Development is the initial stage in the development of a nucleated settlement.
Fieldwalking involves walking up and down ploughed fields in search of artefacts that may have been brought to the surface through ploughing.
A Floodplain is the low lying land adjacent to a river that will hold water at times of flood. The floodplain of the River Thames was occupied at Yarnton during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods when the water table was low and the floodplain dry.
Geophysical survey techniques are used to look for archaeology buried underground, without actually excavating. The two most common methods are magnetometry, which measures differences in the earth’s magnetic field caused by structures below ground, and resistivity, which measures the varying electrical resistance of buried features in the soil.
The Gravel Terrace is an area of higher, well drained, ground situated at the edge of the floodplain. This area became inhabited during the early Iron Age after the water table had risen and the floodplain became too wet.
A Hay Meadow was common grassland, often situated along the banks of rivers, which was managed for the production of hay used as animal fodder.
The Iron Age in Britain dates from approximately 700 BC to the arrival of the Romans in AD 43 and represents the period in which iron superseded bronze for tool manufacture.
A Long Enclosure is an early Neolithic monument comprising a rectangular bank and ditch often with one or more entrances. The enclosure demarcates an area in which burials were placed and complex rituals relating to the dead may have been played out.
A Manuring Scatter is the domestic rubbish, such as broken pottery, flint, glass or coins, likely to have originated in a midden, or rubbish heap, that was mixed with animal manure and spread over fields as fertiliser. Manuring scatters are often identified during fieldwalking.
The Medieval period, often known as the Middle Ages, spans the period from the Norman conquest in 1066 to the beginning of the Elizabethan period in 1540.
Molluscs are hard shelled animals such as snails and oysters, the identification of which can help us to reconstruct past environments.
The Neolithic in Britain lasted from approximately 4000 BC to 2200 BC. This is the period in which people began to cultivate plants, keep domestic livestock and manufacture pottery, whilst continuing to use flint and stone tools.
An Occupation layer is a deposit which constituted the ground level of a settlement or area of archaeological activity. These layers are often compacted and contain broken and abraded pieces of pottery, discarded flints and other general refuse material.
Open-Field Farming is where the common arable land in the village, often two or three fields, was divided into narrow strips belonging to the lord of the manor and to different peasant farmers. The farmers would have shared oxen and ploughed each others’ strips, and the lord's strips, in turn.
A Palaeochannel is a former river channel which has become filled with alluvial silts.
Ploughsoil is a layer of soil that has been mixed through ploughing.
Radiocarbon Dating (also known as C14 dating) is a technique used to date all things that were once living organisms, such as plants, seeds, wood and animal and human bones. All living things contain radioactive carbon (carbon 14) which begins to decay from the time of death. As the rate of decay is known, measuring the remaining level of carbon 14 in a sample of a once living organism allows a precise date for its death to be calculated.
A Ring Ditch is a circular ditch often identified surrounding a Bronze Age burial mound. The monuments are referred to as ring ditches where the mound has been destroyed by ploughing which leaves the ditch as the only visible remnant of the monument.
The Roman period dates from AD 43, when the Roman army invaded Britain, to AD 410, when ties with the Roman Empire were cut. This period is considered to be one of increased prosperity and innovation with the introduction of planned towns, large scale drainage and road building schemes as well as the importation and manufacture of a huge variety of new and luxury goods.
Settlement Nucleation is the clustering together of houses and farmsteads to form villages. Many villages in lowland England formed in this way between the 9th and 12th centuries AD. Settlement nucleation was often associated with the development of communal farming systems such as the open-field system.
A Timber Hall, characteristic of the Saxon period, is a large rectangular wooden building comprising a single open hall. The hall is usually the principal farmhouse in a settlement.
Trenched evaluation involves the excavation of narrow trenches spaced at regular intervals over a large area. This aims to evaluate the archaeological potential of an area and highlight any clusters of activity.
A U-shaped enclosure consists of a series of small ditches creating an enclosure open at one end. This is a monument associated with burial in the Neolithic.
A Waterhole is a large, deep circular pit used as a well. They are often cut into low lying areas near to the water table, such as in the bottom of palaeochannels, and at Yarnton primarily date to the Bronze Age.
Waterlogged Invertebrate Remains are the remains of insects such as beetles that have survived due to the anaerobic conditions caused by waterlogging. These remains help us to reconstruct what the environment looked like in the past.
Macrobotanical Remains are plant remains, such as grains,
seeds and nutshells, visible to the naked eye, that have survived
due to the anaerobic conditions caused by waterlogging. These remains
help us to reconstruct the past environment.
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