Southern Parallel Feature in Chawton Park Wood (Roman Road Survey & Excavations)
Solution to the 3 Parallel Features in Chawto Park Wood (Roman Road Survey)
Dark Circles beside the Roman Roads out of Chawton Park Wood
The above map was made from a 1947 air photo scaled to 6 : 1 Mile as Ordnance Survey Maps contain errors which prevent plotting Roman Roads accurately. Three features emerge from Chawton Park Wood and run on westward through Medstead in Hants described in the above publications. Across the fields computer generated representations are given of air photo evidence of light lines bounded by dark lines for Roman Roads. The central feature is more complex, being found in excavation to be a 60 Roman foot wide ditch with flint running lanes built into the edges of the ditch - which gives the light lines. Air photos also give a light line running through the centre of this feature - the cause of which was not found in the excavations. The above publications give an interpretation of a water feature with a mill pond at the bottom of the valley to the right of the map. Things like logs could be hauled on the slipery clay surface of the ditch.
A few trenches were opened in the fields among these features in the region marked S on the above map. These did not get down to the natural clay a meter below the ground surface. In the Wood the clay is around 40cms down. This issue was clarified when one of the Dark Circles was excavated. These Dark Circles can be seen in the above air photo map in the white field north of the excavations. The one visible in the SE corner of this field was excavated, described in the third report above. They are interpreted as water features working on some of the principles of Dew Ponds, and part of large scale Roman market gardening producing water hungry vegetables for Winchester. Importantly, the natural clay was generally less than 30cms down. Also very little subsoil was encountered - it was concluded that these field had not been cultivated for very long and the plough had mixed the subsoil with the Top Soil to produce 1 layer. This had also been a problem with excavations in the field around S - while 25cms of subsoil occurs in the Wood, none appeared in the field.
Now that we know from the Dark Circle excavation what the stratigraphy should be in the field, we can say that the depth we got to in the excavations around S means than man must have dug down there previously. It is possible that Dark Age Dykes were cut to control these Roman features - being deep ditches and banks. When these fields were recovered from Chawton Park Wood the ditches would have been filled in by the banks. Test Pits will be dug to build up a picture of where this deep stratigraphy occurs, when geophysics may assist in tracing its extent. There should have been considerable silting up of the ditches which will be looked for.
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