Showcasing findings from Yatton excavations

The findings from excavations at North End, Yatton in 2017 and 2018 were showcased at an event organised as part of Heritage Open Days.

The excavations were undertaken on the extra care and primary school sites as a requirement of planning permission granted by North Somerset Council ahead of the development by Bloor Homes.

Hundreds of local residents and visitors from further afield attended the event at Yatton Rugby Club run by the council and Wessex Archaeology.

The event was kindly funded by Willmot Dixon, who are constructing the new primary school, and Wessex Archaeology, a charitable educational trust specialising in community and education to promote public understanding and enjoyment of archaeology. Clevedon Learning Trust, sponsors of the new primary school, were also on hand to answer questions and gauge interest for the new school.

Local councillors and members of local history and archaeology societies were invited to put questions to an expert panel which included members of Wessex Archaeology’s digging team, alongside burial, finds and environmental specialists and North Somerset Council’s senior archaeologist.

As part of the open day there was also a family friendly drop-in session with displays and hands-on activities relating to the archaeology of the village, including handling artefacts from the excavations, a virtual reality experience of a reconstructed villa, 3D reconstructions of artefacts and specialists on hand to answer questions.

North Somerset councillor for Yatton Cllr Steve Bridger said: “I was delighted to see so many residents of all ages turn out on a wonderfully sunny day to learn from the experts about the fascinating details that add so much to the Yatton story. I’m enormously grateful to Yatton Rugby Club for hosting the displays and to those who supported this community event financially and in kind.”

While there is still a lot of analysis to be undertaken on the remains from the excavations, what is known is that the main focus of activity at North End in the past was related to a trackway that runs along the top of the ridge upon which the new school and present village of Yatton now sits. This trackway was in use in the Iron Age and Romano-British period with settlement enclosures lining the route.

The earliest evidence for activity at this location was provided by ‘Beaker’ pottery and moulds for the manufacturing of swords dating to the Bronze Age.

The Iron Age phase of occupation included an intriguing pit that was found to contain ‘placed deposits’ which included a whole piglet, a rose quartz crystal and the claw of a white-tailed eagle.

The settlement in Yatton had moved away from this area by the end of the Roman period and this site then began to be used as a cemetery, from which around 550 graves were excavated. Initial radiocarbon dating for some of the burials reveals that the individuals died between 420 and 630 AD.

Further analysis will be undertaken on the remains from the excavations and reports will be published in due course. These will be free and publicly available via the North Somerset Historic Environment Record and Wessex Archaeology’s website.

It is hoped that the new school will provide opportunities to showcase the findings including a timeline of the different archaeological periods along with some of the artefacts excavated from the site.

In the meantime, an exhibition showcasing images and information from the excavations is on display at Yatton Library and Children’s Centre until the end of October during its normal opening hours.