HAHG April Lecture – Archaeology of the Jubilee River by Stuart Foreman

Jubilee_weirThe Jubilee River is a channel which was artificially constructed between about Taplow and Eton, with the intention of providing flood relief to the Thames.  Before its construction, in 1997, an archaeological study was carried out to recover information before this was lost.  Pre-excavation, analysis of crop marks was particularly useful here because the site was on gravel, which makes these marks particularly clear.

The site showed evidence of activity from the Neolithic to the late Middle Ages.  The Neolithic was characterised by a number of pits, containing Mortlake ware and flint assemblages.  No traces of the Bronze Age were found, although, by the Romano-British period (1st century AD), a farmstead had been established – the only evidence of habitation from any period on the site.  The site yielded extensive evidence of an Anglo-Saxon presence, in the form of some 130 pits.  These pits contained large quantities of cattle bones and a smaller number of remains of other animals, including the articulated skeleton of a dog.  Many loom weights were present, suggesting significant weaving activity, but, surprisingly, few sheep bones were found.  There was further evidence of domestic activity, in the form of quern stones and bone needles.  More elaborate items included tweezers, a carved bone handle and a bronze pin with a decorated head.  It is believed that the site may have been a meeting-place (or moot) in the period, although other interpretations, such as a sheep-shearing site, close to water for washing the wool, have been suggested.  An isolated Anglo-Saxon burial, with an amethyst pendant, was found near Eton Rowing Lake.  Late medieval remains, including a well, were more sparse.