East Coast Pipeline: Settlement at South Dale

North Yorkshire and East Riding of Yorkshire


Yorkshire Water Services Ltd





In 2009 NAA undertook archaeological investigations in advance of the construction of a water pipeline from Haisthorpe in the East Riding of Yorkshire, to Seamer in North Yorkshire. The groundworks revealed a landscape rich in prehistoric and Roman-period remains.

One particular section of the scheme,  close to the modern village of Grindale, included a previously unknown settlement at South Dale. Cropmarks recorded within the surrounding area suggested a palimpsest of trackways, field systems and enclosures possibly dating to the Iron Age and Roman-period. The crop marks of a trackway crossed the pipeline route, and excavation showed this to comprise a possible hollow-way and several ditches. A concentration of archaeological features that represented several phases of settlement was present to the east of this trackway.

The settlement remains included pits, ditches, curving gullies, the ring-gully of a roundhouse and a sunken-floored building (SFB). This sub-rectangular structure was constructed after the roundhouse had fallen out of use, and was thought unlikely to have had a suspended floor, in contrast to many early medieval examples (cf. Tipper 2004). The excavated remains suggested it contained some form of oven and a working area including a rotating or pivoting spindle supported by two reused quernstones. Its primary fills and a pit beneath the spindle setting were rich in charred material, including over 2,000 charred cereal grains and a diverse weed seed assemblage. A land snail assemblage, mostly indicative of short-turfed grassland, but with a few snails that prefer ephemeral ponds and roadside trickles, was also recovered.

This building was securely dated to c. cal AD 20-230 and c. cal AD 71-226 (at 95% probability) from what was probably rake-out from the oven, indicating that the structure was in use sometime in the Early Roman period (rather than abandoned at that time). This was an unusually early date for this form of structure, which would normally be of a later Roman or early medieval date (ibid.; Martin et al. 2013, 291-5). Similar structures of a Late Roman date have been recorded at Roman villas at Welton, to the west of Hull (Mackey 1998), Dalton Parlours, near Tadcaster (Wrathmell and Nicholson 1990), and at an extensive ladder settlement at Wattle Syke, to the south of Wetherby (Martin et al. 2013). Given the proximity of a possible Roman villa at Grindale (Berry 1955, 259), it is possible that the South Dale SFB may have been related, although the villa remains undated.


Berry, C. H. (1955) Roman Villas in Yorkshire. Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 38, 257-25

Mackey, R. (1998) ‘The Welton Villa - a view of social and economic change during the Roman period in East Yorkshire’, in P. Halkon (ed.) Further Light on the Parisi: Recent Research in Iron Age and Roman East Yorkshire. Hull: East Riding Archaeological Society, 21-32.

Martin, L., Richardson, J. and Roberts, I. (2013) Iron Age and Roman Settlements at Wattle Syke: Archaeological Investigations During the A1 Bramham to Wetherby Upgrading Scheme. Yorkshire Archaeol. 11. Wakefield: West Yorkshire Archaeology Service.

Tipper, J. (2004) The Grubenhaus in Anglo-Saxon England: an analysis and interpretation of the evidence from a most distinctive building type. Yedingham: Landscape Research Centre.

Wrathmell, S. and Nicholson, A. (1990) Dalton Parlours: Iron Age Settlement and Roman Villa. Yorkshire Archaeol. 3. Wakefield: West Yorkshire Archaeology Service.

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