Some of the archaeological remains in Beacon Hill Wood have the potential for exploration and enhanced appreciation through excavation; including the Fosse Way Roman road, the remains of ancient quarrying and some of the prehistoric burial mounds.
It has been suggested that the course of the Fosse Way through the lower part of the wood is marked by a low earthwork bank running alongside and parallel with the existing track (Corney 2003, Site Survey plan no.1). A trench excavated across this bank in 2006 found the remains of heavily disturbed road metalling and a side ditch, which may confirm this identification, although no dating evidence was found (see excavation report Trench 2, 2006). Other possible routes for the road within the wood remain to be explored.
Evidence for ancient quarrying appears extensive and widespread throughout the wood but has never been proven through investigation. Stone from Beacon Hill has been identified in late prehistoric Iron Age, and in Roman archaeological contexts in the region; utilized in pottery manufacture, production of querns and millstones, and for road metalling on the Fosse Way. Small scale excavations have been undertaken so far at two quarry sites in the eastern and western halves of the wood, which has confirmed their status though without recovering artefacts or dating evidence (see Trench 1 excavation report 2005, and Trench 3 excavation report 2006). Excavation of a possible prehistoric barrow site found part of a small Roman building, which might relate to the Roman quarry workings (see Trench 5 excavation report 2007).
Among the prehistoric burial mounds preserved within the wood several have been more or less severely damaged by previous forestry or antiquarian exploration. A programme to investigate the condition and survival of their remains began in 2007 with trenching of two damaged circular mounds in the western half of the wood. One of these proved to be the site of a Roman building (above), but the second was confirmed as a relatively well preserved Bronze Age round barrow, from which one cremation within a pottery urn has so far been recovered (see Trench 4 excavation report, 2007). It is hoped that further exploration of this barrow will continue, and that some of the other less well preserved sites can be investigated.
For a report on the Quarry Excavation of October 2005 Click here. For a report on the Platform and Fosse Way Excavation of March 2006 Click here. For a report on the Round Barrow Excavation of July 2007 Click here.