By the mid-1980s, surveys and excavations were pushing ahead in the traditional Wessex heartland of Reading, Dorchester, Potterne, Stonehenge Environs, Kennet Valley.
The encouraging result of the appeal for the 1983 Reading Abbey Wharf excavation had shown the value that people placed on archaeology. Archaeologists had taken confidence from the exercise and county and district councils saw that it was possible to press for the investigation of sites that would be destroyed. By 1985, the idea that archaeology should be taken into account during planning negotiations was becoming part of a more clearly defined strategy.
This was borne out at a site not far from Reading, at Anslow's Cottages, Burghfield. Proposals to extract gravel threatened an area of possible but unknown archaeological potential. Evaluation (or trial) trenching confirmed that archaeology existed by revealing a small landing stage or jetty in an old river channel and an occupation site nearby. Two seasons of excavation followed, one later in 1985 and another in 1986, confirming the value of evaluation.
The combination of evaluation trenching and geophysical survey produced good results at Alington Avenue in Dorchester, where the remains of a Neolithic long barrow, Bronze Age round barrow cemetery, Romano-British enclosure and Roman cemetery were excavated during 1985.
The Esso Midline, which ran from Fawley, near Southampton, to Seisdon in Staffordshire, was an important new type of project. Funded by Esso, WA acted as consultants which involved co-ordinating work along the entire route (and far beyond Wessex), and culminating in the publication of a popular booklet once the fieldwork was completed – Smith, R and Cox, P (1986) The Past in the Pipeline. Archaeology of the ESSO Midline.
The Past In The Pipeline: Archaeology of the ESSO Midline (from 1986)10.97 MB