to Isle of Wight History Centre Archive of Monthly News Items
As previously featured in the History Centre

October 2018


October 2018
PLANNED DEVELOPMENT AT ARRETON
RAISES AN INTERESTING GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY

A planning application for nine houses might not normally attract archaeological attention but the historical significance of Arreton Valley prompted a geophysical survey of the site prior to planning permission being granted. The results suggest possible archaeological features.
Arreton archaeology
   Geophysical surveys have become the standard method of archaeological assessment within the planning process, normally at the pre-planning stage. They can indicate potential anomalies that might be worth archaeological oversight during building excavations, or in some cases, prompting trial trenches prior to any building work. There are two main geophysical methods. Magnetic surveying responds to magnetic properties in the soils. Resistivity surveying responds to the electrical conductivity in soils, detecting contrasts in soil moisture and porosity.
  Arreton Valley and its immediate environs have provided past evidence of prehistoric occupation, not least through Bronze Age barrows overlooking the valley. These fertile lands have probably been productive from Neolithic times. Arreton's Anglo-Saxon heritage and the nearby location of the medieval Heasley Manor Farm are evidence of the area's continuous activity. Any sizeable planning application in the area is bound to prompt an archaeological alert.
  The geophysical survey has shown the site comprises possible archaeological features, indicated by linear and curvilinear anomalies, which may represent a ditched enclosure and possibly linear ditches or a trackway. These features may be prehistoric in date. Other anomalies on the north side of the site may represent medieval or later settlement evidence.
  Planning permission has been granted on condition there is some archaeological oversight of the building excavations. This will likely involve an archaeologist on site at relevant stages of the development, with the authority to stop work and further investigate where necessary.