Land north of Malthouse Farm, Benner Lane, West End

Evaluation and subsequent excavation of four areas by S Wilson of COT. Evidence was revealed for a small rural settlement dating from the Middle–Late Iron Age that comprised at least two roundhouses with associated four-post structures. The site appeared to be unenclosed but ditches and trackways suggest that it was sited in a managed landscape. Charred plant assemblages indicate a rural settlement with domestic activities, including a small amount of crop processing taking place in the vicinity. Evidence for iron smelting of this period was also identified; although no in-situ industrial remains were present, slag was recovered from a number of features including a roundhouse gully terminal. The metalworking residues indicate this was of a non-tapping smelting method consistent with the nearby remains at Lightwater and other contemporary sites in the Thames Valley region. The, albeit limited, ceramic assemblage suggests this small-scale activity continued into the early Roman period. Analysis of the pottery, charred plant remains, charcoal and metalworking residues is ongoing. Elsewhere on the site, a pit of Bronze Age date was revealed, which contained parts of three Late Bronze Age pottery vessels; however, this appeared to be an isolated feature from this period. A series of medieval and post-medieval ditches, ditched trackways and a possible hollow-way were also recorded, all probably associated with the wider medieval landscape of Malthouse Farm.