North Park Farm, Bletchingley

Excavation by P Jones of SCAU adjacent to areas previously investigated revealed evidence of activity spanning the early prehistoric to medieval periods. The earliest purposely dug feature was a large and deep banana-shaped pit that contained over 3000 struck flints of wholly Mesolithic date. Evidence of Bronze Age activity revealed across the site was of long duration, although probably episodic. A hearth-pit and another feature at the south end were northern outliers of a Late Bronze Age cluster of funerary and domestic pits along the flank of the valley-head that were excavated in 2005, but at the north end of the site, at least some of the seven certain Bronze Age features were earlier. One of a twinned pair of pits in the northern cluster also contained burnt bone, suggesting funerary use. The human usage of a third cluster of Bronze Age features in the central part of the site was probably domestic, and included a hearth on the crest of the stream valley that lay further west. Five Saxon features lay in the central part of the site, but with only one pit containing a large enough assemblage to suggest domestic occupation, the principal usage of the cluster may have been industrial or craft-based. Two near-identical pits could have been used for the processing of plant, or other materials, in a prepared liquid, one possibility being the tanning of leather. It cannot be known with certainty whether a droveway and field system, evidence of which was revealed, had been in use during the Saxon usage of the site, only that it had probably been abandoned by the 12th or early 13th century when the area was imparked. After disparkment in the early post-medieval period, a road that ran north–south across the site was laid with gravel metalling. Further south it crossed the valley-head hollow via a stone causeway discovered in 2005. Its purpose had probably been to carry Reigate stone from a quarry on the scarp of the Downs through to the village of Bletchingley. Many of the tree-throw hollows revealed on the site were also investigated and found to be of various dates up to the medieval period. Some of probable Mesolithic date, and perhaps others of later prehistoric periods, may have been utilised as natural shelters and for flint knapping. A large area of tree-throw hollows in the central part of the site may represent a copse that could have been planted as a covert for hunting activities when the area was imparked.