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Neolithic House

The Neolithic house at Horton is a rare and ex- citing discovery. It is thought to be well over 5,000 years old.

The single story house was 9½ metres long by 6½ metres wide. The walls were probably made of split logs and the pitched roof would have been covered with reeds or grass.

Two partition walls divided the house into two. These walls could have supported upper floors in part of the house.

There are traces of what might have been a hearth in the centre of the house. There was not a chimney. Smoke seeped out through the roof which was high enough to avoid catching fire from sparks from the fire.

Only about a dozen Neolithic houses are known

from England. The Horton house is one of the most complete examples yet found.

The house is thought to date to about 3,700BC. Pieces of pottery and flint tools from the house and some nearby pits are consistent with this dating.

Remains of plants show that wild foods like hazelnuts were being gathered. Some cereal grains show that crops were grown but there are not many of them. This shows that the change to farming was a slow one.

crops were grown but there are not many of them. This shows that the change to

Wessex Archaeology

crops were grown but there are not many of them. This shows that the change to

HORTON’S HIDDEN PAST

Excavations at CEMEX Kingsmead Quarry have revealed part of the hidden history of Horton. Archaeologists have made finds that span over 12,000 years, dating back to the end of the last Ice Age.

Before the quarry was extended, teams of archaeologists worked for months, painstak- ingly excavating buried traces of this forgot- ten history.

At the end of the Ice Age

The oldest finds date to the end of the last Ice Age. Flint tools used by people who hunted animals and gathered wild foods like fruits and nuts have been discovered.

At this time, about 12,000 years ago, Britain was not an island. A land-bridge still linked Britain to the continent. This land bridge was flooded by water from the melting ice caps about 8,000 years ago.

Flint knives found at Horton

Design by W.Foster

Design by W.Foster 0 50 100m Edge of excavations Archaeological features Old river channel Bronze Age
Design by W.Foster 0 50 100m Edge of excavations Archaeological features Old river channel Bronze Age
0 50 100m
0
50
100m

Edge of excavationsDesign by W.Foster 0 50 100m Archaeological features Old river channel Bronze Age field system Neolithic

Archaeological featuresDesign by W.Foster 0 50 100m Edge of excavations Old river channel Bronze Age field system

Old river channel0 50 100m Edge of excavations Archaeological features Bronze Age field system Neolithic house Horton Stanwell

Bronze Age field systemof excavations Archaeological features Old river channel Neolithic house Horton Stanwell Road Plan showing the

features Old river channel Bronze Age field system Neolithic house Horton Stanwell Road Plan showing the

Neolithic

house

Horton

Stanwell Road
Stanwell Road

Plan showing the archaeology excavated so far.

house Horton Stanwell Road Plan showing the archaeology excavated so far. www.wessexarch.co.uk Wessex Archaeology

www.wessexarch.co.uk

house Horton Stanwell Road Plan showing the archaeology excavated so far. www.wessexarch.co.uk Wessex Archaeology

Wessex Archaeology

The First Farmers

Slowly, hunting and gathering food was re- placed by keeping animals and growing crops. A very rare and important discovery is the site of a house which dates to this time, the Neo- lithic period (over 5000 years ago).

The house is rectangular and was divided into two parts. Maybe cattle were kept in one half and people lived in the other half.

Small rubbish pits, often containing broken pottery, have also been found, but there are no fields. The remains of left over foods found by the archaeologists show that wild foods were still an important part of the diet.

Not far from the quarry the remains of a Neo- lithic burial mound have been found.

the quarry the remains of a Neo- lithic burial mound have been found. Darker soil marks
the quarry the remains of a Neo- lithic burial mound have been found. Darker soil marks

Darker soil marks the site of the Neolithic House

Wessex Archaeology

Wessex Archaeology

Wessex Archaeology

The Bronze Age

Hunting continued to be important at the be- ginning of the metal age. An unusual find dating to about 4,000 years ago was a cache of 8 flint arrowheads buried in a pit with some flint tools and a leather-working tool made of bronze. These show that stone and metal tools were used together.

Around 3,500 years ago, in the middle of the Bronze Age, the landscape was changed dra- matically as large field systems were set out. The size of the excavations allows us to see the scale of these changes. These fields mark the beginning of the modern landscape.

Flint arrowheads

There are also many water holes showing that in some years animals grazed the fields. The burials of a dozen animals were found, almost all cattle.

Remains of barley and emmer wheat that had been threshed and winnowed show what was grown in the fields. Although no houses/buildings have been found, finds of stone querns used to grind the corn and clay crucibles used to melt the copper for metal objects, suggest a farm stood close by.

A large, elegant, bronze pin had been used to pin the cloak of a Bronze Age farmer.

A cattle burial Scale (0.5 metre)

Bronze Age pot

Bronze pin

Archaeologists excavating part of the Bronze Age field system

Barley, one of the crops grown during the Bronze Age in the area of Horton

one of the crops grown during the Bronze Age in the area of Horton Burial, perhaps

Burial, perhaps of Bronze Age date

Wessex Archaeology

one of the crops grown during the Bronze Age in the area of Horton Burial, perhaps

Iron Age and Roman

There are fewer finds from the end of the Bronze Age and Iron Age. This shows that the area was not used as intensively. But some cir- cular houses have been found and they are as large as a modern semi-detached. They would have had conical, thatched, roofs. Grain was stored near to some houses in small square buildings raised on stilts.

Activity increased again in the Roman times, about 1,700 years ago. The ditches around Iron Age fields were cleaned out and new fields were set out. Some houses continued to be circular but clay roof tiles will have come from a building in the Roman style.

The tiles were found along with a lot of other objects in one area. This suggests that a large farm stood near by.

Artistic impression of an Iron Age roundhouse in Berkshire

Entrance

0

5

10m

Part of the Horton site showing the location of an Iron Age roundhouse

Modern reconstruction of an Iron Age roundhouse

Roman leather shoe

Part of a Roman safety pin style brooch

Glass bead

Roman pottery imported from Gaul (France)

shoe Part of a Roman safety pin style brooch Glass bead Roman pottery imported from Gaul

Wessex Archaeology

shoe Part of a Roman safety pin style brooch Glass bead Roman pottery imported from Gaul

A Changing Landscape

After the Romans

There are almost no finds from the Anglo- Saxon and medieval period. This may be be- cause settlements from this time lie beneath modern ones. Instead of new farms being built at new places in the landscape, hamlets and villages grew up.

Horton Manor lies to the west of the quarry and it owned much of the surrounding land. Unlike earlier times, the landscape was not divided into fields. The low lying land was mainly used for grazing animals.

A Changing Landscape

The landscape around Horton has changed many times over the years. The first people came to Horton at the end of the Ice Age when Britain was not an island. Old river channels show that the Colne Brook has changed its course many times.

Today, planes fly overhead and the landscape is changing but when the quarrying for gravel is done, the quarry will be filled in and in time used for farming again.

quarry will be filled in and in time used for farming again. Excavation boundary 1881 Ordnance

Excavation boundary

1881 Ordnance Survey Map showing the location of Horton Manor

The present day CEMEX processing plant with Heathrow’s new Terminal 5 visible in the distance.

Wessex Archaeology

Wessex Archaeology

Wessex Archaeology