Wessex Archaeology - Trench

The general aims and objectives of the excavating the trench were:-

  • To provide a possible date for the original construction of the railway line;
  • To identify and record any archaeological features exposed during trenching;
  • To recover any artefact evidence during trenching; and
  • To assess the construction of the former railway line. 

The location selected was  immediately south of the tunnel and therefore discovery of any dating material there should have helped with the first objective. The location was also on a section of the original route that is believed to have been little disturbed since the route was altered sometime after 1849. It was hoped a layer of stones might be found with either impressions of where the stone sleepers were located or,

If very lucky, surviving stone sleepers in situ.

The trench was excavated to natural at a depth of between 0.5 and 1m below ground level. The trench covered an area of 15m2. The topsoil/overburden was removed in a series of level spits down to the level of the natural geology or the first archaeological horizon, whichever was reached first. Any revealed deposits were  hand cleaned, excavated and recorded in accordance with Wessex Archaeology’s standard guidelines.

Trench - Plan

It was clear from the excavations that the railway line had been heavily disturbed following its closure as little archaeological remains survived. A single in situ stone sleeper was uncovered, set into the natural.

The sleeper matched those found within walling associated with the later railway line. An area of weathered natural was observed to the west of the sleeper, probably representing the path in which the horses pulling the wagons along the plateway would have walked.  Little dating evidence was found, save for a few pieces of post-medieval pottery located within the upper deposits.

Trench - Excavation 3
Excavation of trench south of tunnel commences
Wessex - Sleeper block
Discovery of in situ stone sleeper block
Trench - Excavation 2
Completed trench excavation
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