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Kingsmead Quarry, Horton
Investigations at Kingsmead Quarry, Horton, Berkshire, have revealed a complex archaeological landscape and evidence that people had used the area since the end of the last Ice Age, a period of over 12,000 years.
Rivers have always been important for settlement, as a source of water and as a means of transport and communication. This site lies on a floodplain and the River Thames, which would have had more channels than today, may once have crossed the southern part of the site. This would help explain why people have used and occupied this area for so many years.
Large areas of the site have been excavated, allowing us to view entire landscapes. This has enabled us to understand how the area was utilised throughout history. The method has also revealed some amazing discoveries which may otherwise have been lost or not seen. Some of the finds recovered from the excavations are of national importance, including the remains of four Early Neolithic (3750 BC) houses and a rare Beaker burial (2300 BC).
The quarry is owned and run by CEMEX UK, who extract sand and gravel from the site. Archaeological layers lie beneath the modern ground surface but above the natural gravel, and so needs to be investigated before any extraction can take place. A lot of the work was also associated with the construction of a new state of the art gravel processing plant which was installed in 2008. Unexcavated areas of the site remain as arable fields.
An excavation team from Wessex Archaeology has been investigating the site since 2003, with further excavation planned for the next two years. To date, over 28 hectares of the quarry have been examined.