Beccles triple post alignment, Beccles Marshes, Suffolk: excavation and palaeoenvironmental analysis of an Iron Age Wetland site

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Abstract

This paper describes the results of two seasons of excavation and associated palaeoenvironmental analyses of a wetland site on Beccles Marshes, Beccles, Suffolk. The site has been identified as a triple post alignment of oak timbers (0.6–2.0 m long), over 100 m in length, and 3–4 m wide, running north-west to south-east towards the River Waveney. It was constructed in a single phase which has been dated dendrochronologically to 75 BC, although discrete brushwood features identified as possible short trackways have been dated by radiocarbon to both before and after the alignment was built. It is unclear if the posts ever supported a superstructure but notches (‘halving lap joints’) in some of the posts appear to have held timbers to support the posts and/or aid in their insertion. In addition, fragments of both Iron Age and Romano-British pottery were recovered. A substantial assemblage of worked wooden remains appears to reflect the construction of the post row itself and perhaps the on-site clearance of floodplain vegetation. This assemblage also contains waste material derived from the reduction splitting of timbers larger than the posts of the alignment, but which have not been recovered from the site. Environmental analyses indicate that the current landscape context of the site with respect to the River Waveney is probably similar to that which pertained in prehistory. The coleoptera (beetle) record illustrates a series of changes in the on-site vegetation in the period before, during and after the main phase of human activity which may be related to a range of factors including floodplain hydrology and anthropogenic utilisation of Beccles Marshes. The possible form and function of the site is discussed in relation to the later prehistoric period in Suffolk.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-250
Number of pages20
JournalPrehistoric Society, London. Proceedings
Volume77
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2011