North Park Farm, Bletchingley, Surrey

Surrey County Archaeological Unit, 2017

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Surrey County Archaeological Unit
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Surrey County Archaeological Unit (2017) North Park Farm, Bletchingley, Surrey [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]

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North Park Farm, Bletchingley, Surrey

North Park Farm, Bletchingley is a sand quarry located on the Folkestone Beds sand, just to the south of the North Downs, in East Surrey. The quarry has been operational for many years, but the present programme of work relates to an extension which began to be opened up in 2001.

The new extension was subject to an archaeological scheme of work, secured by a condition on the planning permission. Surrey County Archaeological Unit (SCAU) undertook a controlled topsoil strip, followed by recording of the archaeology revealed. Scattered over an area of nearly 5Ha were features of a number of periods. The Neolithic and Bronze Age features were almost all pits, to which it is difficult to ascribe specific functions. The Iron Age evidence was more varied, including pits, some of which seem to be associated with metal working, and post holes belonging to a 4-poster structure, as well as others that are part of a fence line. The Roman period is represented only by stray finds. Saxon and early medieval activity is shown by ditches, pits, including a probable waterhole, and a number of post holes. Some of the more interesting of these features occurred near the limits of the present stripped area, and it is likely that a better understanding of them will be achieved when further stripping takes place.

The most exciting evidence to emerge was, however, of Mesolithic date. A series of pits were identified, including several clusters. These are themselves of considerable interest and importance as deliberately dug pits of this date have only rarely been identified. Their significance was, however, greatly enhanced by the identification of a 'buried soil', containing only material of Mesolithic date, and in some quantity, within a topographic hollow occupying an area of almost 1Ha.

Further evaluation in 2002 revealed that the 'buried soil' had a complex formation process both during, and perhaps prior, to Mesolithic activity. In situ evidence was revealed for flint working at several of the sampled locations, and there was also evidence of fires and/or cooking activities. Repeated visits were evidently paid to the area from around 8000BC down to around 4500BC. A detailed programme of excavation preceded by intensive geophysical survey and involving rigorous environmental sampling, was undertaken between June and December 2005. Professional and volunteer archaeologists, under the guidance of the Surrey County Archaeological Unit and ArchaeoScape of Royal Holloway College, worked together on one of the most significant Mesolithic excavations in the UK. The work is jointly funded by WBB Minerals and English Heritage, who are using funds allocated to them through the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund.

The evidence that has emerged, with flints, hearths and other activity areas, will undoubtedly yield important academic benefits.