Shinewater Bronze Age settlement

Overview

Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
1400780
Date first listed:
21-Jun-2012
Location Description:
The site lies in Hydneye Lake within Shinewater Park 333m NNW of Hydneye Bridge.

Map

Ordnance survey map of Shinewater Bronze Age settlement
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
The site lies in Hydneye Lake within Shinewater Park 333m NNW of Hydneye Bridge.
County:
East Sussex
District:
Eastbourne (District Authority)
Parish:
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
TQ6148502940

Summary

Late Bronze Age settlement including truncated wooden platform and abutting wooden trackway.

Reasons for Designation

The Bronze Age platform and trackway at Shinewater are scheduled for the following principal reasons: * Survival: the survival of timbers and artefacts within the wet conditions of the Shinewater Park is very good; * Rarity: The platform and trackway at Shinewater represent a class of monument where relatively few examples survive; * Group Value: the platform and trackway at Shinewater are associated with other contemporary trackways in the area and with a possible Bronze Age round barrow; * Documentation (archaeological): that part of the site which has been excavated is well documented and further research has found other contemporary trackways. * Potential: as much of the site remains unexcavated there is considerable potential for research and discovery. In addition the site has potential amenity value; * Fragility: the waterlogged deposits are vulnerable to changes within their environment.

History

Shinewater is part of the former wetlands of the Willingdon Levels. Paleoenvironmental work has shown that the Levels developed as rising sea levels deposited sediment upon which peat formed as the sea level regressed in the Bronze Age. The Levels were able to support arable cultivation and pasturage for livestock. It was during this period that the platform and trackway were built. The burial of the platform and trackway at Shinewater represents a major marine transgression that is registered across the region and was likely to have led to the abandonment of the site. The site was initially radiocarbon dated to 900-800BC and subsequent Bayesian analysis (whereby statistical information is used in a probability model) in combination with dendrochronological data refined this to 830-800BC.

The first archaeological discoveries at Shinewater were made in 1995 during the creation of Shinewater Park. The Park was constructed in order to create flood alleviation ponds incorporating a landscaped park amenity. Archaeological excavation of the site began in 1996 and continued to 2000 with further work in 2003.

Excavation of lakes for floodwater alleviation has revealed further archaeological features including evidence of causeways leading from the main site to the north-west and to the east. Excavation in 1999/2000 also discovered part of a trackway near the link road to the south.

The Late Bronze Age platform is a rare survival, only preserved due to the wetland nature of the site which has protected the organic remains of the timber structure. The platform would have provided both living accommodation and working areas. Although the precise number surviving nationally is not known, a few such platforms are preserved in this country, mainly in fenland areas such as Flag Fen near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. As a class of monument they are integral to understanding Bronze Age settlement and land use strategies, and are often associated with contemporary wooden trackways, as here, which give insights into routes used by Bronze Age peoples and the landscape of the period. All examples which retain significant surviving remains are considered of national importance.

Wooden trackways were constructed in the prehistoric period between the Neolithic and the later Iron Age, primarily as communication routes across wet areas of ground and as a means of access to the natural resources of wetlands. Most excavated examples take the form of simple structures of brushwood or hurdlework, although some are of more complex pile, plank and log construction. Wooden trackways normally had a very short active lifespan, leading to the clustering of tracks where a communication route was in existence over a long period; some isolated examples are, however, recorded. Because they were sited in wetland areas, trackways generally became buried by the accumulation of peat soon after their construction, and they are now generally recorded as a result of peat extraction, followed by survey and excavation elsewhere along their length.

Approximately 75 examples of either trackways or groups of trackways have been recorded in England. Because of the way in which they are discovered, this is likely to be only a small proportion of those present in the prehistoric period, and some of the recorded examples will have been destroyed or badly damaged by desiccation of the organic components. Over half the recorded examples are from the Somerset Moors.

Trackways yield information concerning woodworking, tools, woodland management, and trading or communication routes. They are usually associated with deposits containing well-preserved environmental data such as pollen, beetle, and macro-plant remains, and they may be significant sources of dendrochonological data. As a rare and diverse form of structure used throughout the prehistoric period, all identified prehistoric wooden trackways with surviving archaeological remains would normally be considered to be of national importance.

Details

The site includes a timber platform, partially truncated by modern construction work, and a trackway or causeway running westwards away from it towards higher ground. An area surrounding the interface between the platform and the trackway is also of archaeological interest and is included in the monument. All parts are of Late Bronze Age date.

The extant part of the platform, which extends over an area of 200sq m, comprises large oak posts, up to 2.6m in length, set into underlying clay deposits. These posts support a horizontal layered platform, shown in at least one location to be formed of a lower layer of oak with, at right angles to it, an upper layer of coppiced hazel rods. The area of archaeological interest where the platform meets the trackway is unexcavated.

The trackway, which leads from the platform to the west, is composed of three rows of vertical oak posts securing a framework of horizontal oak timbers.

The site was discovered in 1995 during the construction of flood alleviation ponds. The excavation which followed the discovery opened up a 50m section of the platform and, in 1996, a 60m length of the trackway. On the platform were found three hearths, in situ, set on clay. A layer of debris, 0.2m thick, had accumulated on the platform and was found to contain large quantities of stone, animal bone (cattle, sheep and pig), and pottery dating to the Late Bronze Age. The small finds included a small bronze sickle, with an intact handle, three socketed axes (attributed to the North German/Holland plain), ornamental amber beads, a bronze chisel, a bronze bracelet, part of a shale bracelet, two lead purse-shaped pendants (with Belgian/northern French affinities), and two carved antler bridal pieces. Organic remains included wattle work, rush matting, some 50 human skeletal bones and part of a disarticulated child burial.

Extent of Scheduling: the scheduling comprises one area of protection and is intended to protect the whole of the known area of the monument including the partially truncated platform and trackway.

The scheduled area of archaeological importance has a maximum length of 207m and a maximum width of 130m.

The modern fishing platforms on the west bank of the lake are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath is included.

Sources

Other
Environmental Investigations at Shinewater Park, Eastbourne A summary of data 2001-2006 by David Hogan. October 2007.,
Shinewater Marsh, Eastbourne Historic Environment Conservation Plan prepared by Martin Brown, Dr Andrew Woodcock with contributions by Paul Roberts. April 2007,

Legal

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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