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Enhancing the evaluation and management of river valley archaeology: geoarchaeology in the Till-Tweed catchment, northern England

Lookup NU author(s): Dr David Passmore, Dr Clive Waddington, Dr Tim van der Schriek


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This paper presents an overview of the Till-Tweed project, an Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund sponsored geoarchaeological assessment of archaeological and palaeoenvironmental records in a major northern UK river basin. Particular attention is paid to one of the key aims of the project; the development of planning guidelines that will enable archaeologists and heritage managers to systematically assess the cultural resource potential of Till-Tweed landscapes. The methodological approach of the project utilizes a suite of geomorphological, palaeoecological and archaeological techniques to identify, define and delimit landform, sediment and archaeological associations over 358 km2 of the Till and lower Tweed Valleys. These associations have been integrated in a geographical information system (GIS) and form the framework for a set of planning and evaluation guidelines that are tailored to a wide range of contrasting landscape settings. Two case studies illustrate the utility of this approach; the first, the valley floor at Coldstream in the lower Tweed Valley, shows how existing and newly identified archaeological data relate to deposits associated with (i) Late Devensian glaciation and deglaciation of the valley and (ii) fluvial landforms of Holocene age. Alluvial terraces and associated palaeochannel deposits at this site demonstrate how areas that are currently free of any documented archaeological remains should be considered in terms of their potential for such material as well as information of palaeoenvironmental value. The second case study focuses on a major aggregate extraction proposal in the valley of the River Till near Milfield, one of the most sensitive archaeological landscapes in the region. Here, planning guidelines developed by the project have been used to inform a comprehensive set of prospection and recording techniques that have been respected by the developer, and have promoted closer working relationships amongst all parties involved with the development. It is concluded that the integration of these geoarchaeological data in a GIS platform not only brings clear practical benefits to heritage managers and developers, but constitutes a valuable research tool by permitting more sophisticated and systematic analyses of links between the modern landscape, the environmental record and the archaeological dataset. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Passmore D, Waddington C, Van Der Schriek T

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Archaeological Prospection

Year: 2006

Volume: 13

Issue: 4

Pages: 269-281

Print publication date: 01/10/2006

ISSN (print): 1075-2196

ISSN (electronic): 1099-0763


DOI: 10.1002/arp.293