A Prehistoric Settlement at Southend Airport: a summary of a paper delivered to Essex Society for Archaeology & History by Barry Cosham

We were pleased to be asked by Essex Society for Archaeology and History (ESAH) to give a talk on our findings from a project adjacent to Southend Airport. This took place on the second of November 2019 and was well received by all present.

The talk was put together following the completion of the initial phase of post excavation work so could only provide preliminary findings. However even at this early stage we can trace occupation of the site back 13000 years.

The focus was the Bronze Age settlement found in the south of the development area. This comprised a sub square multi-phase enclosing ditch system within which were a multitude of pits and postholes. Some structures were present, but more work is needed to clarify how many.

A large quantity of finds were retrieved during the excavation, mostly ceramics and lithics although there were a few special finds indicating domestic activity including saddle quern fragments, spindle whorls and probable loom weights. The most unexpected find was a middle bronze age dagger or dirk which was found in the base of the large enclosure ditch.

Another unexpected discovery was a complete bovine inhumation where the cranium had been removed and placed between the legs. This was accompanied by a further cow skull and ceramic vessel… intriguing evidence for religious/cultural practices. 

The talk concluded with a summary of further work required to better understand the site, it’s chronology and changing use over time and to fit it into the regional, national and international context.

Many thanks to ESAH for inviting us to speak, we hope to return when the post excavation is complete.

Published by Colm Moloney

I am an archaeologist with over 30 years experience. I have worked extensively in Ireland, England and Scotland. Major projects have included managing the fieldwork programme for the M1A1 Link in Yorkshire, The New Scottish Parliament Excavations in Edinburgh and the M9 Motorway between Carlow and Kilcullen in Ireland.

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