Broadcast 13 February 2011
Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by Videotext Communications Ltd to carry out archaeological recording and post-excavation analysis on an archaeological evaluation by Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ on land (centred on NGR 471480 292070) at West Langton, Market Harborough, Leicestershire. In the 1970s, small-scale excavations revealed the remains of a poorly-preserved Romano-British villa in the field to the north of the Langton Brook. Anglo-Saxon artefacts, particularly metalwork, have also been found in the area, providing evidence for a possible settlement and cemetery located to the south, on the hilltop above the villa.
Fieldwork consisted of nine machine-excavated trial trenches as well as geophysical, landscape and topographic surveys. The earliest feature discovered was a long sinuous ditch on the hilltop to the south of Langton Brook; its irregular course suggests that it is unrelated to either the Romano-British or Anglo-Saxon activity known in the area, and it is most likely to represent part of an enclosure or other landscape boundary of later prehistoric date.
To the north of the brook, the results of trial trenching in the 1970s were confirmed, establishing the presence of substantial, though poorly preserved, Romano-British structures with stone walls and tessellated floors, and associated field boundaries and garden plots on regular, rectangular alignments. Artefacts suggest that these remains are predominantly of late 3rd or 4th century AD date.
The remains of a badly truncated inhumation burial was also discovered in an area where previous finds had highlighted the possibility of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery. This burial was not conclusively dated, although a late 3rd century AD coin may have been found in its immediate vicinity, perhaps suggesting it to be late Romano-British.
The remains of at least seven Anglo-Saxon inhumation burials were found on the hilltop to the south of the brook, as well as a pit which provided evidence for possible cremation-related activities. Bone preservation was poor, although all individuals appeared to be adults and included both males and females. Grave goods, including a large number of beads, brooches, weaponry and pottery vessels, suggest a 6th century date for this cemetery. An L-shaped ditch identified in Trench 3 may have formed part of a small, rectilinear enclosure or perhaps even the remains of a small structure or shrine associated with the funerary rites in this area.
Despite the close association between the concentrations of Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon fieldwalking finds in the fields straddling the Langton Brook, no direct evidence for continuity of activity between these periods was revealed by the evaluation.