An Assessment of the potential for in-situ preservation of buried organic archaeological remains at Sutton Common, South Yorkshire: PhD Thesis, University of Hull (2004)

James Cheetham, 2007

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https://doi.org/10.5284/1000272
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James Cheetham (2007) An Assessment of the potential for in-situ preservation of buried organic archaeological remains at Sutton Common, South Yorkshire: PhD Thesis, University of Hull (2004) [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1000272

Abstract

The research presented herein is concerned with monitoring the burial conditions of the organic archaeological remains that exist on Sutton Common, South Yorkshire.

The development of a monitoring package to enable identification of conditions conducive to long-term preservation of organic archaeological materials, in particular wood, was a key aim.

Three key disciplines were studied, namely; soil hydrology relating to water table dynamics; soil chemistry through measurement of redox potentials and assessment of microbiological activity within the soil profile.

The hydrological monitoring of Sutton Common effectively characterised the water table and its dynamics. It was shown by the creation of GIS generated surfaces that the water table was relatively shallow and followed the contours of the surface topography. A water budget for Sutton Common was calculated and this supported the evidence that the water table is significantly influenced by seasonal variation and is precipitation fed. Development of an archaeological wood model using ArcGIS has shown the interaction between this resource and the water table.

Redox monitoring highlighted diversity in the character of the burial environment across Sutton Common, although reduced conditions were predominant at depth across the majority of the site where saturated conditions exist. Seasonal variation within the burial environment, characterised by fluctuating water table heights, resulted in varying oxidised conditions. Significant data was produced during flooding of the site indicating that a considerable and lasting change in the burial environment occurred.

Microbial assessments provided baseline data concerning the microbial dynamics of the soil profile. Of significance is the strong relationship between enzyme activity and organic matter content.

Integration of these data highlights that saturated conditions are necessary for the creation of a reduced environment and therefore in situ preservation of buried organic archaeological remains on Sutton Common will only prevail at depth where these conditions exist.