by Andrew B. Powell, Paul Booth, A.P. Fitzpatrick and A.D. Crockett
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In late 2000, during one of the wettest winter on record, Oxford Wessex Archaeology were commissioned by the construction consortium CAMBBA, on behalf of Midland Expressway Limited, to carry out the archaeological works associated with the construction of the new 44km M6 Toll motorway.
The main phase of work was carried out during 2001, and by 2003 all investigations were complete, revealing 41 separate sites.
Remains includied Mesolithic flint scatters, isolated Neolithic pits and hollows, Bronze Age burnt mounds and Iron Age settlement enclosures. The Romano-British period was dominated by settlement and burials concentrated around Wall (Letocetum), Ryknield Street and Watling Street, whilst the Anglo-Saxons were notable by their absence from the results. Evidence for medieval settlement and agriculture was recorded at many sites, and in particular a Knights Templar fishpond complex at Wishaw. More recent standing structures were also recorded, including the northern dam for Hatherton Reservoir, Churchbridge Railway and Accommodation bridges and sections through the Cannock Extension and Wyrley and Essington Canals, vital elements of the post-medieval industrial heritage of the region.