Human remains unearthed as Hornsea pottery coins new meaning with archaeological finds

By Grimsby Telegraph | Posted: 12 Feb 2018

NEARLY 30,000 archaeological finds, including human medieval and Roman burials, have been made as part of the onshore construction phase for the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

Excavations were undertaken by leading archaeology and heritage practice Wessex Archaeology, for Ørsted, the Danish giant developing Hornsea Project One out of Grimsby.

While the wind farm will be located 120km off the East Yorkshire coast, the onshore cable route runs for about 40 km from Horseshoe Point to a new £25 million substation in North Killingholme, skirting North East Lincolnshire.

The Wessex Archaeology team, led by project manager Richard O’Neill, has been working on the project since August 2015, alongside staff from consultants Royal Haskoning DHV and contractors J Murphy & Sons Ltd. Work has included trial trenching, excavation, a watching brief, earthwork surveying and historic building recording.

Read more: Hornsea Project Three offshore wind farm timeline update

Mr O’Neill said: “Large linear schemes like this can be challenging; we’ve had 70 people working on the scheme over two years with some pretty inclement weather at times. Work has included excavation of two Iron Age settlement sites in North Killingholme, prehistoric farming activity and a Romano-British settlement in Stallingborough, Romano-British settlement sites in Tetney and Holton le Clay, and medieval moated sites in Harborough and South Killingholme.

“One of the more interesting finds was a medieval burial found near Killingholme.  The individual was not buried at the medieval hospital or cemetery which we know existed three miles to the north west.  The body was actually found in the upper level of a field boundary, on the outside of a moated enclosure.”

Key finds within the  from the scheme have included:

• Two human burials (one medieval and one Roman) near Killingholme

• An array of finds predominantly pottery and animal bone, but also metalwork (coins, fragmented brooches, a ferrous knife and nails) and quernstones

• Marine and fresh water shells were commonly found; oysters seem to have been a particular favourite in Tetney during the Roman period

• Recovery of Bronze Age pottery at a site in Holton le Clay

• Further late prehistoric/ Romano-British settlement activity in Tetney

• Evidence of an unexpected Anglo-Saxon settlement in Laceby with finds from the site including a decorated worked bone comb, worked bone pins and spindlewhorls

• Two medieval / early post-medieval salt production sites (salterns) in North Coates.

The archaeological works throughout the scheme have been monitored by the three local authorities the work is taking place in, North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire and Lincolnshire County.

Read more: Offshore wind farm hub's major extension contract won by original Hull builder

Bronagh Byrne, environment and consents manager at Ørsted, said: “Most people wouldn’t associate renewable energy sources with historical artefacts, but it just goes to show the variety of activities needed to build an offshore wind farm.

“We are burying our cables as we understand the sensitivity to the surrounding landscape and the importance this is to local stakeholders and residents.  A lot of work goes into deciding where the cables will be buried, including environmental and technical assessments and considerations from local stakeholders. Working with Wessex Archaeology, we can be confident that any artefacts are handled delicately and we’re delighted to see they’ve unearthed so many items spanning decades of history.”

All the archaeological excavations have been completed in advance of cable installation. Monitoring during excavation of the cable trench is ongoing and further monitoring will be carried out during reinstatement works in key areas, with monitoring fieldwork scheduled to be completed this year.

Read more: Further steps taken on the long journey to open up seabed for MORE offshore wind

Post-excavation assessment and reporting work is ongoing with the haul, which weighs more than half a tonne. Results of the archaeological excavations will be published in due course providing an insight into how the landscape of this part of Lincolnshire has been both used and developed.

The archive resulting from the field work will be deposited with North Lincolnshire Museum in Scunthorpe. The human remains, excavated under a Ministry of Justice license, will now be looked at by specialists, dated and reported on before being deposited by the museum.

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