Foragers and farmers - 10,000 years of history at Hengrove Farm, Staines

By Rob Poulton, Graham Hayman and Nick Marples

Archaeological work took place between 1997 and 2012 across an area of over 20 hectares at the Hengrove Farm sand and gravel quarry, near Staines. Several Mesolithic activity areas were identified, the earlier associated with low-lying ground and the later with a more elevated area. Two locations of Neolithic occupation, with waterholes, pits and tree-throws, may have been seasonally occupied in an era of shifting agriculture and complement the discovery of a large house and ring ditch at the adjacent Ashford Prison site.

From around 1500 BC field systems were imposed across most of the site, although one area remained open, and probably common, land. Three Middle Bronze Age settlements seem likely to be the centres from which the landscape was transformed. Later Bronze Age activity was more dispersed, with seven or more focal points. By the Middle Iron Age occupation had become concentrated in one part of the site although just 300 metres away at the Ashford Prison site was another substantial settlement. The Hengrove settlement continued to develop until, either just before or soon after the conquest of AD 43, a regular complex of stock management enclosures, set within a surviving framework of the Bronze Age fields, was created. This pattern of occupation persisted until abandonment in the 4th century AD.

Two Middle Saxon occupation areas include a number of waterholes. The final period of occupation, of Saxo-Norman date, was associated with a boundary that was renewed a number of times.

The wealth of evidence from this large tract of land provides additional detail and new insights into the development of the landscape across the Thames terraces that was so superbly explored in the work at Heathrow to the north.

  • SpoilHeap Monograph no 12
  • ISBN 978-0-9576509-9-2
  • 331 pages, 176 illustrations
  • Price £25 plus £3.50 postage and packaging

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