Archaeology of Surrey

Although its archaeology is frequently under-rated, Surrey is a unique area of rich history. Numerous nationally-important archaeological sites include Palaeolithic camps, a unique and extensive Mesolithic microlith industry, the Stanwell Neolithic cursus and Badshot Lea long barrow, Bronze Age centres (e.g. Runnymede) and an unusually high number of Iron Age hillforts. Its historic heritage is equally exceptional, including Roman temples, villas and pottery industries, Saxon cemeteries, medieval monasteries, churches and castles, and Tudor palaces such as Nonsuch which are arguably the most spectacular in the country.

Bronze Age barrow at Thursley, Hascombe’s Iron Age hillfort and Roman road at Limpsfield (photos Anne Sassin and Judie English)

 

 

 

 

The modern era witnessed the development of leisure activities such as racing, cricket and theatre, as well as the establishment of significant historic parks and gardens (e.g. Albury, Wotton and Deepdene). The county claims a noteworthy history of intense industrialisation, from the Tillingbourne gunpowder mills to the stone quarries at Brockham, eased considerably by the early canals and railways. Surrey sites also form a major part of the national database of late 19th/20th-century defence sites.

Chilworth Gunpowder Works, Reigate mobilisation centre and Atlantic Wall at Hankley Common (photos Anne Sassin and Chris Reynolds)

For more information and resources on the history and archaeology of the county, we recommend the Surrey Archaeological Research FrameworkExploring Surrey’s Past, and Surrey Historic Landscape Characterisation, amongst other resources. More information on specific periods can also be found in the following sub-pages.