The geoarchaeological evidence

Charles French, Karen Milek

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Eleven soil micromorphology samples and associated samples for magnetic susceptity analysis and ICP-AES were taken from remains of a reconstructed grubenhaus at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village, which had been burnt down in an arson attack. In thin section it was possible to see that the fire had caused reddening of the sandy substrate around the pit to a depth of 1.5-2 cm due to rubification of iron nodules and the clayey coatings around the sand grains, particularly where the sand had been in direct contact with burning timbers. The primary fill of the building, which had had a trampled cellar while it was in use, was significantly more compacted than the secondary fill, and contained only charred wood fragments, while the secondary fill contained charred wood, wood ash, and grass ash (burnt thatch) in the form of grass phytoliths. The significant difference between the primary and secondary fills of this building, and clear evidence for trampling of the primary fills, differ significantly from the fills of many excavated Anglo-Saxon grubenhauser. This suggests that some grubenhauser, unlike the reconstructed building of this study, may have been constructed with wooden floor boards, which prevented the accumulation of primary floor deposits.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExperimental Archaeology and Fire
Subtitle of host publicationThe Investigation of a Burnt Reconstruction at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village
EditorsJess Tipper
PublisherSuffolk Archaeological Unit
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)978-0956874733, 0956874738
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2012

Publication series

NameEast Anglian Archaeology Reports


  • geoarchaeology
  • soil micromorphology
  • geochemistry
  • reconstructed buildings
  • sunken featured buildings
  • grubenhauser
  • site formation processes


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