Cottam Summary Report

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Cottam Summary Report

During 1993 an archaeological evaluation was conducted at the Anglian site at Cottam, North Humberside, under the auspices of the York Environs Project, Department of Archaeology, York University. Fieldwalking was carried out in January and February, and Dr J.D.Richards and B.E.Vyner directed limited excavations during July and August. The purpose of this note is to provide an interim summary, in advance of the main publication which will appear in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal in due course.

The site lies on arable land high on the Yorkshire Wolds some 10 miles from the coast, in the parish of Cottam (NGR 49754667). It was discovered in 1987 by metal detector enthusiasts and has subsequently been intensively worked, yielding a rich collection of predominantly Middle Saxon metalwork. The metalwork finds have been systematically plotted, and published in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal (Haldenby 1990, 1992 and forthcoming), although the location of the site has hitherto been withheld as a contribution to its protection. To date the published finds include some 30 simple pins, 26 strap-ends, 8 lead spindle whorls, 40 iron knife blades, 14 ninth-century stycas, plus a Jellinge-style brooch and a Norse bell. Two main concentrations of metal finds have become apparent, and these can be seen to be roughly coterminous with two concentrations of crop marks. The date range of the artefacts suggests that the site was in use for much of the 8th and 9th centuries AD. During April 1989 fieldwalking was undertaken for Humberside Archaeological Unit by Peter Didsbury and members of the East Riding Archaeological Society (Didsbury 1990), leading to the recovery of animal bone, prehistoric flints and Roman and medieval pottery, as well as Anglian pottery.

The site at Cottam provides an opportunity to fill some of the gaps in our knowledge of activity in York's hinterland during the 8th and 9th centuries. From the surface finds it is apparent that it belongs to a new category of site in Humberside and Yorkshire producing rich Middle Saxon and Viking Age metalwork, which has not so far been excavated. The aim of the evaluation, therefore, was firstly, to establish the extent and survival of archaeological deposits; secondly, to identify the sequence of 8th and 9th- century activity; thirdly, to establish the relationship of the metalwork and the crop-marks; and lastly, to determine the nature of the 8th and 9th- century activity.

Fieldwalking confirmed the picture derived from the distribution of metal- detector finds of two concentrations of post-Roman activity, suggesting there was an Anglian nucleus towards the centre of the field, and a subsequent shift to the north-east during the Viking Age.
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