Roman & Medieval Rural Life in North Somerset

In March 2005 BaRAS carried out an archaeological excavation on land immediately west of Manor Farm in the parish of Uphill, Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset. The land was previously an orchard but its location close to the centre of Uphill village gave the site some importance.

The earliest evidence for occupation was a Romano-British ‘metalled’ stone surface and buried soil horizon 1m below present-day ground level. Only a small area of this surface could be exposed but it appeared to extend for at least 20m in a north-south direction. The buried soil had in turn been sealed by a layer of archaeologically ‘clean’ alluvial clay, which would suggest a period of inundation or abandonment of the land.

roman metalled surface

This may look like a heap of stones but it’s really the remains of the Romano-British metalled surface!

In the medieval period a series of pits and possible ditches were cut into the alluvial clay showing that the land was again in use but the most unexpected discovery was two walls of a substantial medieval building, most likely a barn, at the western end of the excavation area. One of the walls had been damaged by later activity, but the other extended onto the adjacent property to the north so the full extent of this building is unknown. A fragment of a similar wall was exposed at the opposite end of the site.

medieval barn walls

The walls of the medieval barn with later walls and cobbled surfaces around them

The strangest feature was what appeared to be a stream bed, ponds or a natural undulation, or a combination of these that ran through the centre of the site on a south-east to north-west alignment. This feature had been revetted along one edge and lined with rough cobbles that in places extended down into the depression like a ford.

This depression had been backfilled with clay and rubble in the 1600s, to level the ground surface. Several walls and more rough cobble surfaces had then been constructed over the rubble backfill. This shows that several phases of buildings were constructed in the same area. The most recent building was abandoned by the late 1700s, and there is no trace of any structures on the site on a map of 1815.

uphill team

The excavation team led by Andy King (left)

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