Waitrose, South Street, Dorking

Evaluation by T Munnery of SCAU. Medieval features comprising pits, postholes, a well and a possible buried soil were revealed. Two of the features and the buried soil may be as early as the late 12th or early 13th century. A relatively large number of struck flints, mostly of Mesolithic but also Neolithic date were recovered, mostly from one location in a limited-sized test pit. Sherds of Roman and Saxon pottery recovered are likely to be residual and unlikely to indicate that significant evidence from these periods is present on the site. A subsequent strip, map and sample investigation revealed evidence of activity from the Mesolithic, Bronze Age, medieval and post-medieval periods, as well as limited activity from the Neolithic, Roman and Saxon periods. A large assemblage of Mesolithic flintwork was recovered, although it had suffered some post-depositional movement and a large percentage was recovered from a buried layer also containing prehistoric, Roman, medieval and post-medieval pottery. Located towards the centre of the site, a ring-ditch (or possibly penannular ditch) may be all that remained of a Bronze Age round barrow. This appears to have been closed deliberately during the Middle Bronze Age with the deposition of near complete ceramic vessels, a large quantity of ferruginous sandstone blocks and scatterings of cremation deposits. The form of construction of the barrow is unclear, but may have incorporated the stone blocks found in the ditch fill. To the west of the ring-ditch was a cremation also dated to the Bronze Age, and a ditch of unknown date appears to respect the position of the ring-ditch. Roman evidence was limited, with only two intercutting pits revealed and no evidence of Stane Street, the route of which is projected to pass through the north-east corner of the site. Evidence of Saxon and early medieval activity was confined to the recovery of a few sherds of pottery, and these are likely to derive from manuring of the fields outside the main settlement, which was located to the north. The main medieval features comprised ditches that probably relate to agricultural divisions, which may have been superseded by a realignment of boundaries during an expansion of Dorking along both West Street and South Street in the mid–late 13th century. The presence of probable cesspits and a well appear to relate to the new town plot alignments. After the medieval period, activity diminished and the area was used sparingly for pitting until the late 18th century when the use of back land plots appears to have intensified.