Inlaid Ivory Leopard Handle on Folding Knife with Chain and Lever Lock Key, Lant Street


Various utility services at Bear Gardens

The A695 near Riding Mill, Northumberland

PCA has a long track record of providing archaeological expertise into utility installation schemes throughout Tyne and Wear, County Durham and Northumberland. One recent example was work undertaken in early 2011 for NEDL ahead of an underground electricity cable installation across the A695 near Riding Mill, Northumberland. The proposed installation crossed the line of the Dere Street Roman road, which closely follows the line of the A695 in the area. The evidence recorded by PCA in the cable trench demonstrated two phases of Dere Street along with the remains of a roadside ditch.

The A695 scheme was more involved than the ‘watching briefs’ usually undertaken in association with utility installations. Although it initially involved simply monitoring the work of the utility contractor, a well-planned scheme - designed jointly by Northumberland County Council Conservation Team, PCA and NEDL - allowed for archaeological remains to be excavated and recorded in detail by PCA when they became apparent. It is an excellent example of how co-operation between the utility contractor, the archaeological contractor and the local government archaeologist can manage potentially difficult utility installations through to a satisfactory conclusion for all parties.

Utility installations often create difficult working conditions for archaeologists Section through the Dere Street Roman road underlying the A695 near Riding Mill

South East Coastal Strategy Pipeline

A sewage pipeline was constructed for Welsh Water / Dwr Cymru between Chepstow, and Nash, near Newport, South Wales. The project called the South East Coastal Strategy Pipeline (SECSP) was divided into three sections:
Pipeline Section 1, from Chepstow to Hunger Pill;
Pipeline Section 2, from Hunger Pill to Caldicot; and
Pipeline Section 3, from Caldicot to Nash.

The construction of the SECSP was part of a larger project to improve the water quality in the Severn Estuary by taking more sewage from the area between Chepstow and Newport to the Nash works for treatment, and discharging less in an untreated or partially treated state. The pipe runs via the sewage works at Sedbury, Hunger Pill, Caldicot, and Magor. Some additional construction work was involved at these sewage works.

Dwr Cymru / Welsh Water needed a programme of archaeological fieldwork along the proposed route of the South Eastern Coastal Strategy Pipeline.This archaeological fieldwork was undertaken by PCA to fulfil this requirement. 

The pipeline is 32.7km in length and generally follows a course along the Welsh side of the Rivers Wye and Severn, although to the south of Chepstow it crosses the Wye so that 1.8km of it is in Gloucestershire.

The SECSP fieldwork included field surveys, evaluation trenches, test pits, watching briefs, and rescue excavations which comprised of a planned strategy to deal with the threat to the archaeology.

There was a wide range of archaeological results the more significant were:


  • Domestic enclosures in use between about AD 50 to AD 150.
  • A pair of Roman cremation burials.
  • Quarrying from the 2nd Century AD, and the partial remains of a building, with associated fences and ditches, of around AD 300.
  • Spreads of material possibly from a saltern. Possibly originated locally or as ballast from a boat.
  • Late 1st to early 2nd Century ditch interpreted as part of the early fortress’s defences.


  • Waterfront townscape
  • Revetted water channel (leat).
  • Drainage ditches and ridge and furrow


  • WWII anti-aircraft defence for the Severn Tunnel entrance
Pipeline location

Thames Water Victorian Mains Replacement

PCA undertook an archaeological watching brief for the excavation of replacement water mains along Bear Gardens, Rose Alley, London Borough of Southwark. The watching brief was commissioned by Morrison Utilities Services on behalf of Thames Water in 2009.

The watching brief covered trenches excavated along the complete lengths of Bear Gardens, Rose Alley and Emerson Street. A trench along Sumner Street was monitored extending between its junction with Great Guildford Street and Southwark Bridge Road to the west and east respectively.

A number of phases of activity associated with the post-medieval development of Southwark were identified during the watching brief. The earliest phase related to the late 17th century bear baiting arena, known as Bear Gardens 5. Several oblique brick walls and remnants of stone foundations were identified which may relate to this structure and its subsidiary buildings. The red brick walls follow the projected alignment of the main arena, as identified within previous archaeological interventions. As such these features are probably the last surviving evidence for any of the Restoration period bear-baiting arenas in Southwark and are therefore of national importance. The 18th to 19th century increase in development and proliferation of industry were identified in the form of dumped layers of waste material and brick structures. These primarily related to glassmaking and ironfounding. Furthermore, indications of post WWI development, WWII bomb damage and subsequent redevelopment were also identified albeit in the southernmost areas of the subject site only.

The start of opening up the slot trench The trench ready for pipe insertion The mains water pipes inserted and installed Detail of a Pipe section

Stratford Box, East London

PCA was commissioned by Thames Water Utilities Ltd to carry out an archaeological watching brief on groundworks for a pumping station and six pipelines for Stratford Box Dewatering Scheme. Stratford Box is the main international railway station for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) in East London. An actively pumped groundwater control system was being installed to protect the CTRL Stratford Box International Station against flooding. The Pumping Station is to take water from a collection of 22 boreholes at the International Station. The water will be stored in Thames Water’s reservoirs at Walthamstow for use by the capital.

The Stratford Box Pumping Station was constructed in the London Borough of Newham, while the six associated pipelines pass through the London Boroughs of Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest along the valley of the River Lea (also spelt Lee). In addition a number of test pits were excavated for the purpose of re-lining existing pipes. The watching brief was carried out intermittently from January 2009 to February 2010 in accordance with two Written Schemes of Investigation.

Made-ground deposits of 19th and 20th century date were found in the majority of the pipeline trenches and test pits and within the foundation trench for the Stratford Box Pumping Station. These overlay alluvial clay in most cases where excavation was deep enough. In several places layers of gravel and sand overlay the alluvial clay and were covered by the made ground. These were interpreted as former gravel paths.

Pipeline A north of Forest Road, looking south

Indicative Route of a Trunk Water Main Lay from Canterbury to Kingston

Mid Kent Water were planning to construct a trunk water main from an existing main in South Canterbury to the Kingston pumping station. PCA conducted a landscape survey and assessment collating historical and archaeological information, cropmark evidence and the results of a walkover survey in order to assess the likely impact of the proposed scheme on the landscape.

Much of the route fell within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and was likely to have great archaeological potential. It was south of the Roman Road Watling Street and the prehistoric and Saxon burial sites on the Barham Downs.

The proposed scheme involved the laying of a pipeline along a working corridor. Groundworks and related traffic in the area of the working corridor would impact on any below ground deposits within the easement and the pipe trench and would in course remove and truncate any archaeological deposits.

PCA aimed to identify the potential for the occurrence of archaeological remains in the study area, the probable period from which they date and type of remains that could be expected along the proposed route. In addition the likelihood for the survival of these remains was assessed, as had the impact of the proposed scheme on those remains.

View across Area 15. Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty within Kent Downs Route from Bridge railway bridge, looking south at Area 7 Raised mound facing North Resulting survey drawing of Cantebury to Kingston proposed pipeline route.