Tyne and Wear HER(16270): East Wideopen, prehistoric settlements and field system - Details
East Wideopen, prehistoric settlements and field system
Archaeological excavation south of East Wideopen Farm between October 2015 and February 2016 revealed evidence of an Iron Age/Romano-British field system, a probable enclosure, at least ten roundhouses of different phases, postholes and pits. The field system took the form of two rectangular fields with possible internal divisions. The fields were separated by an east-west trackway or droveway. The field boundary ditches were up to 2m wide and 1m deep and were u-shpaed in profile. In the northern end of one of the ditches Samian pottery, Roman glass and a quernstone was found. The field system is possibly a 'ladder' field system (a series of fields or paddocks, rectangular in shape and often fronting onto a trackway. In the north-west part of the site, a sizeable ditch 2.3m wide and 0.98m deep formed the southern and eastern arm of a potential rectilinear enclosure. The remains take the form of an area of dense occupation, possibly representing an earlier unenclosed settlement, followed by an enclosed settlement and field system. The field system is similar to those at Pegswood, Gardener's Houses and Faverdale. One roundhouse has been dated by pottery to the 1st century AD. The average diameters of the roundhouses are between 4m and 8m. Industrial slag has been identified which is the product of pre-indistrial iron smelting, possibly from a bloomery furnace. Finds included 242 pottery sherds including a possible wheel-thrown pot and a probable C1 bowl (rare in the NE Iron Age), several quernstones, a possible mortar or stoup and several pot boilers. Soil samples contained molluscs (oyster and umbo), charred plant seeds, oak, willow, cherry and heather charcoal. Animal bone was equid, cattle, sheep or goat. The site of East Wideopen Farm was archaeologically excavated in 2017. Another enclosed Iron Age/Romano-British settlement and field system were recorded. There was a sequence of roundhouses (average size 7m), pits, postholes, two possible cremation burials and a sub-rectangular enclosure. The majority of the roundhouses seem to have been built prior to the enclosure and represent an unenclosed settlement. Only ring-gully 3179 seems to post-date the enclosure. The enclosure measured approx 46m x 40m in plan and was divided internally by ditches. The main enclosure ditch was mostly u-shaped in profile and was 3.32m wide and 0.84m deep. Two ditches within the field system may have formed a trackway or droveway. Alternatively they have formed part of a 'ladder' field system like that found at East Wideopen in 2016 (excavation by NAA), the ditch being an internal partition possibly forming a paddock. The ditches within the field system were around 1.59m wide and 0.57m deep, but they had been truncated by the later farm buildings. They were mostly v-shaped in profile, some sections were u-shaped. Post-medieval furrows were recorded running east-west and various post-medieval ditches, culverts and farm building foundations including the site of the gin-gang. There were two animal burials (one was a mixture of equid, cattle, pig, cattle or red deer, another burial was pig and sheep or goat and the third was the hind limbs of a cow), a sandstone well and two barrel bases, probably buried as refuse receptacles. Artefacts included five prehistoric pottery sherds, including two rims with fingernail impressions, a beehive quernstone, 1 lithic, 17th to 19th century pottery (largely found in the barrels). Palaeo-environmental assessment produced cereal grains (spelt, emmer, barley and wheat), oak charcoal, gypsywort which suggests a wetland character to the site, curly dock or heathgrass (thatch materials) and rushes (bedding). Animal bone - cattle, sheep or goat, pig and equid, mostly of post-medieval date.
Archaeo-Environment Ltd, December 2011, East Wideopen Farm - Heritage Statement; TWM Archaeology, 2012, East Wideopen Farm - Desk Based Assessment; TWM Archaeology, 2012, Land to the north and south of East Wideopen Farm, East Wideopen, North Tyneside - geophysical survey; TWM Archaeology, 2012, East Wideopen, North Tyneside - archaeological evaluation and earthwork survey; Northern Archaeological Associates, November 2016, East Wideopen, Tyne and Wear - Post-Excavation Assessment Report; Northern Archaeological Associates, April 2018, East Wideopen Farm, North Tyneside - Post-Excavation Assessment