Weston Gateway Business Park

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In June 2017, Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by GK Heritage Consultants on behalf of Burnham Plastering & Drylining Ltd to undertake an archaeological evaluation on land off Filers Way, Weston Gateway Business Park North, Weston-Super-Mare. The site is part of the North Marsh on the eastern edge of Weston-Super-Mare, in the Somerset Levels and was rough open grassland at the time of excavation. 

Previous archaeological fieldwork in the surrounding area had indicated the presence of Romano-British settlement and land improvement in the form of drainage and reclamation, following on from earlier prehistoric salt working. 

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The four evaluation trenches confirmed that land in this area had been partially reclaimed, probably for agricultural purposes, during the Romano-British period. Pottery of this period was recovered from the lower alluvial layers, and a single small drainage gully (pictured right) was recorded at a depth of over 1 m below present ground level in Trench 2, showing that land was being drained at that time. 
 
Reclamation of marshland is borne out by the environmental evidence. A sample taken from the fill of the gully was processed to identify molluscs; only open-country species were present and no aquatic snails. These snails show that drainage must have been successful when the gully was in use and even when partially silted-up, it would still have been visible as a feature within the landscape. A single wheat grain of Triticum sp. may indicate crop production in the vicinity during the Romano-British period. This picture is also confirmed by the presence of a thin band of clay associated with a period of land stabilisation, which was present within all four trenches, indicating that the area was open grassland during and shortly after the Romano-British period. 
 
Later alluvial deposits, representative of intermittent wet and dry periods, buried the previous ground surface, suggesting that the land stabilisation seen during the Romano-British settlement of the marshes did not last for long. Deposits overlying the Romano-British layers show that the land was primarily pastoral in the medieval and post-medieval periods, with the area being subjected to episodes of inundation and drying-out that were more pronounced than in the Romano-British period. This remained the case until the advent of post-medieval water management, which used large ditches and sea walls to keep the North Marsh sufficiently drained for agriculture and small-scale settlement from the 16th century onwards.