Iron Age Horley

Iron age Horley.


Archaeological surveys have been taking place in the area north of Langshott in connection with the Horley North East development known as “The Acres”.

The work by Archaeology South-East has revealed that there were Iron age “Round Houses” and agricultural activities in the area near Great Lake Farm and north of Tanyard Farm.

Below is an article from the Archaeology South-East web site reproduced with their kind permission.


Land Northeast of Horley

Excavations undertaken by Archaeology South-East near Horley in Surrey have completely changed our understanding of the prehistoric settlement of this little-studied region. Desk-based assessment and evaluation trial trenching led to an archaeological excavation carried out in four targeted areas of this housing scheme between December 2007 and July 2008. The excavations revealed new and exciting evidence of Middle and Late Iron Age, Romano-British and medieval settlement, farming and possible ritual practise along the banks of the Burstow Stream. Other than iron-working sites, prehistoric, Roman and medieval archaeology is rare in the Weald which has historically been conceived as being a wilderness throughout much of antiquity. Contrary to this, the results from the site appear to suggest that prehistoric, Romano-British and medieval origins in the area may have developed and extended along arterial waterways such as the Burstow Stream through the otherwise densely forested Weald. The location of the site with fertile farmland and both riverine and forest habitats available as valuable and abundant resources close to hand would have presented an attractive proposition to ancient settlers. The evaluation and excavation process has shown without a doubt the legitimacy that archaeological fieldwork can have in areas previously considered of lower archaeological potential.

Project Officer: Jim Stevenson, Dan Swift

Client: CPM Environmental Planning and Design


Here is a further report from Archaeology South East

Archaeological Investigations at Brook Wood, NE Horley

Phase 1 Excavation

Summary Report

ASE Project No. 3641


Archaeology South-East were commissioned by Bovis Homes Ltd. to undertake a programme of archaeological work at the Brook Wood Horley development. This follows on from previous phases of work on wider residential development in the area. Work on this site began with a stage 1 desk based assessment (CPM 2000). This was followed by stage 2 geophysical survey (WYAS 2001). Archaeological evaluation (stage 3) was undertaken within the site during 2007 (Margetts, 2007). This revealed Iron Age, late medieval and post medieval evidence. The majority of the remains uncovered comprised ditches or gullies probably mostly of MIA/LIA date. Two removed field boundaries were also in evidence, one of which has a probable late medieval date assigned to its foundation as well as a late 19th century date for its decommission. Much post-medieval blast furnace iron slag was also recovered from the southern part of the site.



This phase of work comprised large stripped areas centred on the development footprint as well as suspected Iron Age remains encountered during the evaluation stage. The general aim of the work was to identify, excavate, record and characterise any archaeological remains present in the excavated area. More specific aims included:



·To assess what evidence there is that changing environmental conditions, such as the flooding of the Burstow Stream, may have dictated settlement shift in the area during the MIA/LIA and Romano-British periods.

·To assess what was the Iron Age and Romano-British ‘network’ of sites in this region in light of the theory that these follow arterial waterways such as the Burstow Stream and the River Mole etc.

·To use any Middle and Late Iron Age pottery recovered to help to improve our knowledge of Iron Age material culture in the Weald.

·To attempt to relate any evidence of the medieval tannery *  Scheduled Ancient Monument site recorded in Scotchman’s Copse


Further aims were to identify and examine the evidence for continuity between past and present landscapes and to:


·Examine the relationship of cut features, particularly field / enclosure boundaries and trackways to the existing field boundaries, roads and lanes.

·Examine the documentary and cartographic sources and relate these, if possible to the excavated evidence.

·Particular attention should also be paid to the continuity of land use from the prehistoric / Romano-British period and the medieval landscape. This has been suggested for other areas of the Weald, particularly Kent (SERF seminar October 2007)

Area A Results

Residual Activity


The earliest activity at the site comprised Prehistoric activity of an early date including probable Mesolithic flint artefacts (including a microlith) found residually in features dated to later periods or collected from subsoil deposits. This probably represents transient hunter gather activity within the site


Phase 1 Iron Age


Activity relating to this phase comprised the majority of archaeological evidence encountered on site. Arrangements of ditches probably representing enclosures and field-systems of this date were encountered throughout the area on a general northeast and southwest alignment. Within some of these enclosures were encountered the remains of at least two roundhouses with partial remains of up-to two more found close by.


The only artefacts recovered relating to this activity comprised finds of pottery possibly of Mid to Late Iron Age date.



Fig 2: The largest and best preserved Iron Age Roundhouse


Phase 2 Late Medieval to Post Medieval


This phase is typified by boundary and drainage ditches relating to land division across the site. These can often be traced on cartographic evidence.


The large drainage/boundary ditches possibly have 15th to 16th century origins indicated by the presence of un-abraded pottery recovered from deposits filling the base of the features. Further finds of post medieval brick tile and glass as well as cartographic evidence indicate a late 19th century date for the boundaries removal.

Area B Results


Residual Activity


The earliest activity at the site comprised Prehistoric activity including flint artefacts found residually in features dated to later periods. This probably represents transient activity within the site.


Phase 1 Iron Age


Activity relating to this phase comprised the majority of archaeological evidence encountered. Arrangements of ditches probably representing enclosures and field-systems of this date were encountered throughout the area on similar alignments to ditches found during Area A. In contrast however these enclosures were not associated with settlement evidence (i.e. roundhouses and concentrations of artefacts) and more likely represent field-systems.


There was a distinct lack of artefactual evidence related to these field-systems their similarity to ditch features of Iron Age date encountered within Area A excavation area however makes a likely Iron age date for these features most probable.


Phase 2 Late Medieval to Post Medieval


This phase is typified by a single boundary/drainage ditch encountered in the south of the area.


The large drainage/boundary ditch was similar to features encountered in Area A however this example had a ceramic land-drain inserted into its base.


Undated Features

The majority of discrete features encountered on site did not provide any dating evidence and were largely unremarkable in nature. Several pits however displayed evidence of gully fed terminals and are likely to be industrial in nature although what this industry entails is unknown at present.



The bulk of the archaeological evidence is of probable Mid-Late Iron Age date (4th century BC to 1st century AD) being the period of most intensive land-use of the site. This is followed by a period of low intensity land-use until the present day.

The Iron Age activity clearly relates to an agricultural settlement and comprises a continuation of activity found during previous phases of archaeological work on the wider northeast Horley residential development.

Early indications based on boundary orientations and spatial analysis look to further suggest continuity of land-use patterns from the Iron Age to the post-medieval and even modern periods on the site. It also seems likely that settlement zones confirmed by the presence of the roundhouses show a predilection for being sited close to the course of the Burstow Stream.

The possible late medieval origins of some of the boundary/drainage ditches on site may indicate associations with the nearby Langshott Manor.

Some of the pits encountered on site may be industrial in nature and associations with nearby tannery * activity should not be discounted at this time.


Andy Margetts

Archaeology South-East

For full details see:

14th May 2012

* Regarding the Moat in Scotchmans Copse, there is no evidence that it was used in connection with Tanyard Farm which was a tannery that existed in the late 18th c.

The moat within Scotchmans Copse has been in existence since before 1324 when it is mentioned in connection with Labbokland and Guldenland in the Chertsey Abbey Cartularies.

Also the field adjoining the moat was named Moat Field. (Peter Cox, H. L. H. S.)


Below is a picture of the site of a round house which was located about 100 metres north-east of Langshott Manor. Four of the post holes can be seen exposed by the archaeologists. (photo Peter Cox Horley Local History Society)


Below is what an Iron Age roundhouse looked like. This reproduction is at The Chiltern Open Air Museum. (photo P. C. C.)