Oxford Archaeology South (OAS) was commissioned by Andrew Josephs Ltd, on behalf of J and J Franks Ltd, to undertake an archaeological evaluation of land at Mercers Farm, near Nutfield, Surrey (centred on TQ 3050 5200) ahead of proposed mineral extraction. The work was undertaken between 3rd - 27th January 2012. A total of 94 trenches were excavated across the site. Evidence was found for activity from three main periods: the earliest spanning the late Bronze Age to early Iron Age; medieval agricultural use; and post-medieval activity.
The excavation by Greg Priestley-Bell, revealed a large number of archaeological features which ranged in date from the Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age to postmedieval/modern periods. The majority, however, were dateable to the Iron Age and are described below. Details of the post-medieval and modern features are housed with the archive.
Geoarchaeological survey by E Stafford of OA to inform the proposed Sheerwater Regeneration scheme. Twenty hand-augered samples across the northern part of the site provided baseline data on the nature of sedimentary sequences and recorded a shallow topsoil and a humic silty sandy subsoil over Bagshot Bed deposits. Charcoal fragments from the base of the sequence were radiocarbon dated to the Middle Bronze Age (1500–1320 cal BC) and may be indicative of human activity in the vicinity during this period.
Test pitting by C Hayward of SyAS, produced a small quantity of pottery of Late Bronze Age, Middle Iron Age and late Roman date. (458)
Watching brief by J Warrender, L McCaig and G Santa Maria of WA during stripping of topsoil and subsoil over several areas, encompassing c 2ha, revealed multiple features including cremation burials, pits, postholes and linear features. The cremations comprised both urned and unurned burials, provisionally dated to the Bronze Age. A number of short lengths of ditch were also recorded although they did not appear to form any coherent boundary to the mortuary activity. The cremations were generally dispersed across the area though small clusters were observed.
Watching brief by A Hood of FA revealed several possible ditches/gullies and two small undated pits or tree-throw holes. The majority of the ditches were on a north-west, south-east/north-east, south-west co-axial alignment, suggesting that they represent the remains of a former ditched field system. There was a general paucity of artefactual material from the ditches, although a single sherd of porcelain pottery from one of the fills could indicate that they date to the later medieval or post-medieval period. Two small sherds of possible Bronze Age pottery were recovered from a subsoil layer.
Excavation by T Munnery of ASE of two of seven identified areas (SMS1 and WB6) highlighted as being of archaeological significance following evaluation (SyAC 94, 364).
Excavation by A Haslam of PCA targeted three areas of the site, identified following earlier evaluation (SyAC 99, 218). Area 1 was situated in the south-western corner of the site. It revealed two parallel, north-west/south-east orientated ditches, interpreted as a droveway, and a series of small pits and postholes that formed a sub-rectangular enclosure, possibly an animal pen or paddock, to their east. All were of probable Late Bronze Age or Early Iron Age date. A further sub-pen was identified within the south-eastern corner of the enclosure.
Excavation by A Haslam of PCA of 1m2 test pits across a colluvial deposit that covered the site, and previously identified during a programme of evaluation (SyAC 99, 218), produced c 7000 pieces of Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age struck flint. The bulk of the assemblage dated from the later Bronze Age to the Iron Age and may derive from middening practices spanning those periods. Although redeposited, the flint assemblage clearly represents all stages in the reduction process, from the preparation of raw materials through to the manufacture, use and discard of tools.
Evaluation by C Douglas of ASE revealed a single ditch and an adjacent tree-throw hollow, both of which contained prehistoric pottery. A horse burial was also identified, but given the good preservation of the bone, it was probably of recent date. A number of metal-detected finds were recovered from the topsoil across the site, all of 19th century or later date.