Lecture Details and Reviews

Archaeology of the Jubilee River

5th April, 2016 Stuart Foreman
Why did people gather at the site of a long abandoned Roman farmstead not far from the river Thames sometime around the year AD 760; what was their purpose and where did they come from? Stuart Foreman, who supervised the excavation in 1997 of this exceptional Anglo-Saxon site at Lake End Road West in Dorney, will discuss the site with us. He will also describe the excavation at the nearby Eton Rowing Lake project, which included a high-status burial with some nice artefacts. Stuart graduated from from Durham University in 1990 with a BA (Hons) in Archaeology and Anthropology. He is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Field Archaeologists (MCIfA). He joined Oxford Archaeology in 1997 after an early career as a field archaeologist in Essex, Cumbria and elsewhere in the UK.


Reviewed by Anthony Lynch on 5th April, 2016Jubilee River Weir

The 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.

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