Anglo-Saxon cremation cemetery 750m west of Rempstone Hall

Overview

Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
1471412
Date first listed:
04-Nov-2020
Location Description:
Lying in the NE angle between the Ashby Road (A6006) and the Rempstone Road, LE12 6RG.

Map

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Location

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

Location Description:
Lying in the NE angle between the Ashby Road (A6006) and the Rempstone Road, LE12 6RG.
County:
Nottinghamshire
District:
Rushcliffe (District Authority)
Parish:
Rempstone
National Grid Reference:
SK5620424569

Summary

Anglo-Saxon cremation cemetery.

Reasons for Designation

The Anglo-Saxon cemetery 750m west of Rempstone Hall is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Potential: it has considerable archaeological potential in the form of buried deposits which, if subjected to excavation and scientific analysis, will provide information on the population, social structure and ideology of the community that used the cemetery and its position in the wider social, economic and political landscape; * Survival: for the high level of survival of urned cremations as confirmed through the excavation. Estimation of precise numbers remains problematic but is likely to comprise several hundred urned cremations with occasional inhumations;

* Period: given the rarity of rural Anglo-Saxon settlement sites, cemeteries of this period offer our principal sources of archaeological evidence about the Early Anglo-Saxon period;

* Documentation: for the archaeological documentation available for the site in the form of excavation reports, and the detailed analysis of the structural, artefactual and sedimental deposits discovered during the excavation.

History

Three main types of Anglo-Saxon cemetery are known: cremation cemeteries, inhumation cemeteries, and mixed cemeteries. Cremation cemeteries normally date from the ‘Early’ Anglo- Saxon period (5th to 7th centuries AD). Individual cemeteries can contain hundreds of burials – there were more than 2,000 at Spong Hill, Norfolk – although most are far smaller. Only 20 of the 200 or so known Anglo-Saxon cremation cemeteries contain more than 50 burials. Individual cremations were normally placed in a ceramic vessel, though glass and metal containers are also known. These vessels – usually placed in pits – and any associated grave goods are the main dating evidence for cremation cemeteries. Cremation burials, often with very rich grave goods, are also known from barrows. Cremation cemeteries tend to form linear or roughly circular shapes, and the fact that few cremation grave pits cut each other supports the idea that the locations of the graves were generally marked in some way. The known distribution of cremation cemeteries is concentrated in East Anglia and the other eastern counties of England, especially Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Humberside.

In 2013 archaeological monitoring of the site was undertaken during the stripping of topsoil and upper subsoil in advance of sand and gravel extraction at East Leake Quarry. This revealed a cluster of early Anglo-Saxon cremations, the vast majority contained within urns. Limited hand excavation, geophysics, test-pitting, trial trenching and metal detector survey was carried out to characterise and establish the overall extent of the cemetery. The hand excavation and more extensive trial trenching revealed a substantial early Anglo- Saxon cremation cemetery extending over an estimated 1200m² (0.12ha). Estimation of precise numbers is problematic given the apparent clustering of deposits within this overall area, but is likely to comprise several hundred urned cremations with occasional inhumations as suggested by features observed in one of the trenches.

Details

Anglo-Saxon cremation cemetery.

PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS

The monument comprises a group of largely urned cremations within what appears to have been a low mound set beside a ring ditch that appears likely to represent a prehistoric monument which acted as a focus for the Anglo-Saxon activity.

DESCRIPTION

The site, known as ‘Burton’s Land’, is centred on SK 56222 24576 and consists of an L-shaped parcel of pasture land covering 12110m² (3 acres) within a field located in the angle formed by the A6006 and the Rempstone Road. It lies immediately to the south-east of the Cemex quarry facility at East Leake.

Open area excavation and trenching within the east section identified a total of 75 cremations, of which 26 have been excavated and 49 remain unexcavated. Detailed hand excavation within a small area centred on SK 56293 24586 suggests an average of approximately 1.4 urns per m²; extrapolated across the whole (estimated as 0.12ha or 1200m²) and based on an assumption that around 50% of the area currently identified as the cemetery limits contains cremations (600m²), then this gives an estimate of around 840 cremations. Given the vagaries of estimating overall numbers, a total number of burials in the range of 500 to 1200 is possible.

The hand excavation demonstrated that the urns occurred in dense clusters but the overall extent of the cemetery to the west, north, and south remained unclear. A detailed geophysical (magnetometry) survey was conducted of the remaining land to the west. The results proved to be inconclusive, but a subsequent metal detector survey confirmed a large quantity of iron fragments, derived from post-medieval agricultural processes, were probably the cause of anomalies in the data.

Observation of both the recovered urns and those for which some details could be noted in situ suggests the majority (around 80%) showed signs of ornament and decoration.

Preservation is variable, dependent on the precise positioning of the respective urns within the subsoil. Those vessels located at the interface of the topsoil and upper subsoil have been exposed to significantly higher levels of plough damage than those contained entirely within the upper subsoil layer.

A number of ‘early’ Anglo-Saxon finds, dating generally to the 5th and 6th centuries AD, lie directly below ploughsoil. Some finds have been heavily truncated by ploughing, and in some instances single large stones had been used to mark a burial.

The machine excavation of eleven trenches, carried out to determine the extent of the cemetery, identified evidence of a possible ring ditch/ ring ditches (possibly indicating a Bronze Age barrow), suggesting that a prehistoric monument may have been the original focus for the cremations which were found to cluster on its south-east side. This is a phenomenon seen on the adjacent land to the east and increasingly elsewhere throughout the eastern counties. Elongated sub-rectangular pits (some containing ferrous objects) adjacent and within the potential ring ditches are indicative of inhumation burials, both of potential Anglo-Saxon and earlier date.

EXTENT OF SCHEDULING

The monument is situated within a T-shaped parcel of land: the cross of the ‘T’ is bounded on the west side by Rempstone Road, on the south by the A6006, and on the north by the access road to Cemex quarry.

Sources

Other
`Rempstone Estate Land – Rempstone, Nottingham, a Report on Archaeological Trial Trenching 2013`, Humphreys R, Jones H and Parker R, Trent and Peak Archaeology Report Number 013/2014 March 2014)
Blair J, ‘East Leake Quarry: An Assessment of the Broader Context of the Anglo-Saxon Archaeology’, Queen’s College, Oxford (February 2015) in Guildhouse Consultancy, ‘Addendum and Updated Assessments of Potential by Period with Revised Mitigation Strategy and Specialist Assessment of the Broader Context of the Anglo-Saxon Archaeology’ (March 2015)
Guildhouse Consultancy, ‘A Desk-Based Assessment: Archaeology and Historic Features (December 2012): Rempstone East Leake Quarry

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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