Tyne and Wear HER(15892): Hylton, Castle View School, pit alignment - Details
Hylton, Castle View School, pit alignment
Religious Ritual and Funerary
A prehistoric pit alignment was found during archaeological evaluation at the site of Castle View School on Cartwright Road in 2008. The linear feature consisted of a series of sub-oval and a linear cut aligned north-east to south-west. It was at least 54m long and up to 0.9m wide. In total 12 pits were identified. These varied in length from 2.2m to over 16m. The width of the pits varied from 0.45m to 0.9m. The depth was between 0.12m and 0.60m. The interval between the segments was between 0.2m and 0.6m. The individual pits were typically linear with rounded termini and steep straight sides to a concave base. The main fill of the pits was a dark greyish-brown silty clay containing occasional fragments of burnt sandstone (pot boilers). Several of the pits contained an initial fill of yellow silty clay or lenses of yellow silty clay in the main fill. This material is interpreted as a water-deposited fraction of the upcast from an adjacent bank. It was impossible to identity on which side of the pits the bank was located. Soil samples - most of the plant remains were restricted to fragments of unidentified charcoal. A single unidentified charred cereal grain, chaff from emmer/spelt wheat and crop weeds were recovered from the fills indicating cereal production and/or processing were taking place in the vicinity of the ditch prior to or during the time it was open. The species are characteristic of prehistoric or Romano-British period agriculture. OSL dates were recovered 81 BC +/-210, 761 BC +/-220, 571 BC +/-280, 1271 BC +/-310. The dates have large error margins but the infilling or silting up of the ditch took place in the mid to late Iron Age. The presence of burnt stone 'pot boilers' in some of the pits may be part of a structured deposition. There was one further archaeological feature on the site - a linear ditch. This was aligned north-west to south-east. It was 0.5m wide, over 4.8m long and 0.25m deep. It was filled with a dark grey silty clay with lenses of yellow brownish clay. The fill was OSL dated to 1271 BC +/-310 although this date should be treated with some caution. This Bronze Age date pre-dates the pit alignment, but given the uncertainty over the accuracy of the OSL date, it is not possible to be absolutely certain that the ditch does actually pre-date the pit alignment. The function of the pit alignment or segmented ditch is not known. It is clearly an act of land division and definition of territory. It could have had symbolic associations. It represents a collective rather than individual activity. The pot boilers may represent domestic activites linked to nourishment and food. The pit alignment lies perpendicular to the grain of the landscape. It does not reinforce a natural boundary. It cuts across the landscape. There are other pit alignments at Foxcovert (HER 13282) which has a late Bronze Age or early Iron Age origin, Blagdon Park 1, Shotton North-East and Shotton Anglo-Saxon site.
Towle A, 2008, Castle View School, Sunderland: Report on an Archaeological Evaluation and Method Statement for Mitigation Works, March 2008, Unpublished SLR Consulting Report Ref 410-1625-00017b; SLR, February 2009, Castle View School, Sunderland, Report on Archaeological Mitigation Works, SLR Ref: 410-1625-00017; SLR Consulting Report Ref 410-1625-00017; SLR, May 2010, Castle View School, Sunderland, Report on Archaeological Mitigation Works