guest house isle wight

guest house isle wight
Crossways House
guest house isle wight
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The Wootton-Quarr

Since 1990 a programme of archaeological survey has been undertaken on the north-east coast of the Isle of Wight, between Wootton Creek and Ryde pier. The project has combined hinterland, intertidal, and offshore survey with a range of environmental analyses including pollen and plant macrofossil analysis, diatom, insect, and sedimentological studies, and radiocarbon and dendrochronological dating.

The main objectives of the survey were to provide an overview of the archaeological potential and the sea-level chronology of the Solent, to investigate in detail the Wootton-Quarr coastline chronology (including evidence for prehistoric and later subsistence, trading, and maritime activities), and to develop survey and recording techniques, threat assessment methodologies, and management options for intertidal archaeology.

During the project, more than 150 timber structures have been surveyed. These include small groups of posts, structures composed of posts and hurdling or brushwood, and long alignments comprising several hundred posts. Forty-eight of these structures have been radiocarbon dated and have been found to range from the early Neolithic to the post-medieval period. The posts survive in remarkable condition and reveal evidence for past woodland management regimes as well as providing information about woodworking technology, the skill of the workmen, and the size of the workforce involved in cutting the posts.

Amongst the earliest structures recorded are a number of trackways which survive at extreme low water at Quarr and Binstead. Due to their position they are only rarely visible for short periods of time on very low tides. Consequently recording has been difficult. At Quarr, three trackways have been found running seaward within a stretch of about 150m. Radiocarbon dating places all three within the first half of the fourth millennium but cannot reveal whether they were contemporary or whether one replaced the other. Pollen analysis indicates that they were constructed in a saltmarsh environment. The most westerly of the three generally remains under water but the other two display distinctly different methods of construction, one using hurdles and the other longitudinal roundwood and split poles

. The trackways appear to extend seaward for a maximum of 55m. At Binstead, two more trackways have been recorded which both date to the early-third millennium. One is of hurdle construction but only the upright posts of the other remain. It is unclear why the trackways were constructed in these positions on the coast. Perhaps they provided access to boats and the open sea, although it would surely have been easier and safer for boats to come ashore in one of the many small creeks which punctuated the Wootton-Quarr coast at that time. It is perhaps more likely that the trackways provided access for fishing, fowling, reed collection, or other activities which might have taken place in the saltmarsh.

It might be expected that in the intertidal zone the remains of fish traps would be identified. Several of the Neolithic and Bronze Age structures resemble the anchor posts of basket fish traps similar to those found in the Severn Estuary. Others are more complex and it has been difficult to find analogies for them. Whilst the obvious interpretation is that they are a different type of fish trap, they might possibly be associated with fowling or other as yet undetected pursuits. The most extensive structure recorded during the survey was a discontinuous longshore post alignment at present mean low water which extends for c1.25km. This has been radiocarbon dated to the seventh-eighth centuries AD. A study of the woodworking techniques suggests that the posts were shaped by a large group with differing skill levels, which implies that it was constructed hurriedly, using all available labour and tools. One possible interpretation is that the posts form the remains of one large fish trap or a series of smaller traps constructed to serve the needs of the workforce labouring in the nearby Binstead limestone quarries.