Southern Strategic Support Main


Barrow Gurney to Cheddar

The Southern Strategic Support Main (SSSM) is a new 31 km water pipeline which runs from Barrow Gurney, North Somerset, to Cheddar, Somerset. This major infrastructure project, constructed by Kier Group on behalf of Bristol Water, is designed to improve the security of the water supply across areas of southern Bristol, Weston-super-Mare, Cheddar, Burnham and Glastonbury.
Wessex Archaeology has worked closely with the project team throughout; from preparing the initial desk-based assessments and undertaking geophysical surveys to carrying out field evaluations and targeted excavations as well as maintaining a watching brief during the construction of the pipeline.
The evaluation trenches along the course of the pipeline identified a variety of archaeological features dating from the Bronze Age through to the Romano-British period. While many of these were ditches relating to field systems, three areas, one in Churchill and two in Congresbury, warranted further investigation and targeted excavation.



Excavations to the northwest of Churchill produced evidence of Romano-British settlement. The remains of an enclosure, burials, associated boundary ditches and a large pit which may have been a quarry were all excavated within the footprint of the pipeline easement. 
The enclosure was Romano-British in date and appeared to be recut several times, possibly, with the enclosure expanding eastwards throughout the Roman-British period. A relatively large assemblage of pottery suggested the enclosure was used as a settlement, although few internal features were present within the excavation area. 

3687 A burial of Romano-British date was found within the second phase of the enclosure. The burial was facedown which may represent post-depositional slumping of the burial or deliberate placement as a ‘deviant’ burial.  The burial could be dated as Roman as hobnails from shoes or boots were recovered from the grave. A second possible burial was also present although only a small quantity of bone survived and was not in situ. Both burials will undergo further analysis. Other features included ditches on similar alignments which probably represent land divisions. A large depression still visible within the landscape was partially within the excavation area and although it was unclear what the function of the feature was it may have been a quarry.


Significant archaeological remains were discovered along the Route of the SSSM pipeline at Congresbury including a Romano-British pottery kiln, its surrounding enclosure, a Romano-British trackway as well as drainage ditches, field boundaries and other discrete features.
It has previously been known that there was a Romano-British pottery industry located at Congresbury, although it is little understood. The discovery of the pottery kiln is significant as this is the first kiln in the Congresbury area to be excavated under modern conditions and have the ‘waster’ material fully analysed. The kiln comprised two structures, with an outer kiln and a secondary smaller one built within it. At present, we assume that this was done to achieve higher firing temperatures, although further analysis is needed to understand the construction and use of the structure.
Just as significant as the kiln was the volume of pottery ‘wasters’ recovered – in excess of 400 kg. Within the assemblage there are many fragmentary pots and a wide range of vessel forms present. Analysis of this material will add greatly to our knowledge of trading networks in North Somerset as well as the wider region.
Perhaps associated but 150 m to the north of the kiln, was the remains of a Roman trackway with a metalled surface. This appeared to lead towards a known pottery midden and presumably onwards to the River Yeo. The road had likely been built as part of the infrastructure for the manufacturing site. The majority of the features found across the site contained charcoal-rich fills which also suggests large-scale industrial activity.

Congresbury Kiln 3D Models



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