As was resport on this website in September 2008, archaeological monitoring work during the removal of topsoil in advance of construction of a reinforced gas pipeline at Broxburn, West Lothian, produced evidence relating to the occupation of the area during the Bronze Age in the form of a large pit containing sherds of Beaker pottery. Post-excavation work on material excavated from this pit has now been completed by CFA Archaeology Ltd, and a report recieved by WoSAS.
The pit was found to contain a number of different materials. The main fill of the pit contained a mixed deposit of burnt animal bones as well as Beaker pottery from a number of vessels and wood charcoal, which produced radiocarbon dates ranging from 2350-2020 BC, the Early Bronze Age. Very few examples of Beakers are known from West Lothian or the City of Edinburgh and the NMRS only records one known findspot, of two AOC Beakers in a sand quarry near Bathgate (NS96NE 10; Mann 1906), and one example of a Beaker within a cist at Tartraven (NT07SW 6). As a result, the discovery of this assemblage adds greatly to the known distribution of Beakers in this part of the country.
Charcoal analysis showed three types of species were represented in very small quantities, though the survival was poor. The basal fill contained predominantly hazel remains although a small amount of oak was recovered. Oak was also found in the upper fill, with willow also present. There was no evidence of in situ burning within the pit. Forty-one small fragments of calcined bone were also present within the pit fills. All identifiable pieces were non-human, and several fragments were abraded. Further pieces of skull and long bone were present, though the species was not identifiable.
A number of lithics were recovered from the main fills of the pit, including a fragment of a barbed-and-tanged arrowhead and a possible scraper. An unusually wide range of raw materials are present, including flint, chert, agate and quartz. Although barbed-and-tanged points are closely associated with Beaker pottery and are often found together in burial contexts, it is not clear whether all of the objects were deliberately deposited with the pottery at the same time or derive from backfill or later disturbance, as they are not closely datable. The majority of the pot assemblage was recovered from the upper fills of the pit, with a single sherd recovered from the basal fill. However, the feature had been heavily disturbed to the point of destruction in the immediate area of the field drain cut, and this upheaval would have removed and subsequently scattered any previously in situ remains. The abraded pot and calcined bone fragments found within the field drain cut are likely to have been within the pit prior to its disturbance and became incorporated into the backfill of the drain cut. It is possible that other artefacts have been lost and ended up scattered over the wider area as a result of the drain's excavation.
The setting of the deposition may appear to be inconspicuous, but the site, on a terrace near the River Almond, places the location in a prominent place, possibly near a trade route. The geology close to the River Almond can comprise alluvial drift deposits which may have been more favourable for agriculture. This could have made the waterway and its immediate environ a focus of prehistoric activity. At Clifton Hall, approximately 1km to the south, a Bronze Age cinerary urn was also discovered which again indicates the close proximity of Bronze Age depositional activity. Due to the fact that the feature was disturbed and incomplete, with only a proportion of the assemblage present, the true nature of the depositional process can only be surmised and tentatively theorised. Interpretation is also subject to the constraints of the excavated area, which were limited; and because of this, it remains unclear as to whether this feature is solitary or isolated, or one of a number of related features throughout the wider area.
This report has been derived from CFA Archaeology Ltd's post-excavation data structure report, written by Phil Moore