25th January 2018:
Since our last update, post-excavation work on site at Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, for Urban and Civic plc has continued and some fantastic new discoveries have been made
Following completion of fieldwork in July 2017, relating to the Phase 1 land parcel of Urban and Civic Plc’s development of Newark South, post-excavation work has been progressing apace. The first month witnessed the final processing of the remaining environmental samples, most of which had already been processed to provide feedback and inform mitigation strategies during the fieldwork. Our environmental team are currently undertaking the final assessment which will be critical on many levels, not least for developing a more accurate understanding of the chronology of the site through radiocarbon dating.
Work on consolidating and digitising the paper archive and the post-excavation assesment has begun, and feeding into this report will be the specialist contributions, including assessment of the kiln furniture associated with the Roman/early post-Roman kilns, the lithic artefacts, incluing the Bronze Age socketed axe fragment, and a small but hopefully informative assemblage of burnt animal bone from the site.
The burials department has also been excavating and undertaking initial assessment of the various cremation deposits and urns recovered from the hengiform monument. These have provided some surprises in the form of secondary urns within several primary urns, as well as a small but significant assemblage of grave goods, including a number of flint artefacts, and – most significantly – a collection of faience beads. The initial assessment of the charred human remains indicates good potential for further analysis, allowing the identification of sex and age in many cases, with some pathological indicators also present. This initial work has also identified an interesting division between urned and un-urned cremation deposits, with the former seemingly associated with the remains of juveniles and the latter with those of adults.
During the first round of assessment, the burials department had advised that a large inverted bucket urn needed to be CT scanned, so that a better appreciation of its contents and their distribution could be developed before its excavation. We were lucky to be offered an opportunity to scan the Newark bucket urn at the Churchill Hospital, Oxford, a National Health Service facility. The scanner is, naturally, prioritised for patients, so we were especially fortunate and humbled to be slotted in between appointments.
The scan was performed by a team of very enthusiastic radiographers who perform about 80 scans a day, beginning in the early hours of the morning. Scanning the urn was not completely new for them, however (one of them had scanned an Egyptian mummy), but they were fascinated to see its contents gradually appear on the computer screen as the scan was made. We thank them for their assistance and dedication, and it proved valuable to have an idea of the contents before excavation. Keep an eye out for more news in the future!