Cottingdon Road

Neolithic sites are scarce on Thanet, but a small number were found along the route of the pipeline, including a possible mortuary structure at Broadley Road and four small pits at Cottingdon Road. The round pits contained Mortlake-style pottery, flint tools and waste, charcoal and burnt flint, charred hazelnut shells and a hammerstone. The artefacts had been deliberatley chosen and placed in the pits.
 
Plan of cremation cemeteryPlan of cremation cemetery A small Romano-British cemetery (AD43-410) was excavated. In it were both creamation graves and inhumations (burials of unburnt bone). 
 
 

The Cremation graves

Seven of the cremation deposits were placed in urns, of which five were amphorae. These are vessels that were used to transport wine, olive oil or fish sauce from the Mediterranean. 
 
Grave goods had been placed within the amphorae.
 
A cremation urn - The excavation processA cremation urn - The excavation process Follow the excavation process of an urned cremation burial.
 

 

 

Plan of inhumation cemeteryPlan of inhumation cemetery

 

The Inhumation graves

A minimum of 13 individuals were identified. They had been buried in graves that were aligned roughly north-south, mainly following the enclosure boundaries. The human bone was generally poorly preserved within the soil, although the deeper the grave the better it was preserved. A number of grave goods were found, including a jug and a bronze buckle.
 
The small multi-rite cemetery reflects the national trend, which by the middle part of the 2nd century saw a change from cremation to burial.
 
Inhumation burials with grave goodsInhumation burials with grave goods Only a few Anglo-Saxon features were recorded along the route of the pipeline. One of them was a sunken-features building at Cottingdon Road.  The 7th century Grubenhaus lay to the west of the cemetery. It was of a size and form that is typical of these buildings in England, Scandinavia and northern Germany. Pottery and charcoal analysis suggest that this was a domestic building.

 

The excavation process

Stage 1

Identifying a cremation burialIdentifying a cremation burial
Firstly the archaeologists use their skill and experience to spot a potential cremation burial in the ground. They then survey its location and take a pre-excavation photograph (left).

Stage 2

Excavating the soil around the urnExcavating the soil around the urn
The second stage is to excavate the soil from around the outside of the urn. If there appears to cremated bone or pyre debris around the urn this is done in quadrants. The soil is then bagged and taken away to be processed. Once the soil has been removed the urn is wrapped in bandages to stabilise the pottery and allow it to be lifted from the ground with the contents of the urn still in place.

Stage 3

Excavating the soil within the urnExcavating the soil within the urn
The soil within the urn is carefully excavated. Where possible the cremated bone is removed by an osteoarchaeologist who can identify some of the bone as it is removed. If this is not feasible, the urn is emptied in consistent 2cm spits. Recording in this manner enables the position of any gaps or grave/pyre goods within the vessel to be noted. The osteoarchaeologist can then work out the order in which the bones were deposited and the number of individuals. They also look for other remains such as animal bones within the urn.

Stage 4

The potteryThe pottery
Any objects found within the urn are then examined by a team of specialists. In this instance the pottery was identified as Romano-British. Inside the urn were two vessels, one a storage jar and the other a samian dish. The urn/amphora was also identified as being of a typology known as Dressel 20, the most commonly found type of amphora in Roman Britain.