Tadcaster in the Iron Age

The Iron Age extends from about 700 BC to the arrival of the Romans which was about 70 AD in this area.  Whilst there has been little information of Iron Age activity in and around Tadcaster, geophysical surveys have recently revealed some evidence.


The clearest example so far found was at Toulston in a field adjacent to Leeds Road and Moor Lane.

Result of geophysical magnetic survey at Toulston – the lighter areas show old ditches

The various ditches are highlighted in this view.

The field shows many lines and some rows of “dots”.  The lines are old ditches and the “dots” are small quarries for road material.  The “dots” run along both sides of Roman roads marked in red.  Some relatively recent quarrying (for building the adjacent roads) is shown in green which has obliterated some traces of the roads.

The blue lines are ditches which may have marked field boundaries.  The Roman roads seem to have been constructed after the ditches.  This points to these ditches being associated with Iron Age settlements.  Just how long before the Romans they were made is not yet known.

Kirkby Wharfe

Surveying in the vicinity of the Roman villa at Kirkby Wharfe produced the following results.

Survey results                                                                                         Red shows Roman ditches and blue, other ditches

There are ditches associated with the Roman villa (shown in red) which are straight.  There are other ditches (shown in blue) which are not straight.  As at Toulston, these could predate the Roman ditches and probably date from the Iron Age.


Results of a survey at Kelcbar

Much of the site has been affected by a gravel quarry, however some ditches are visible.

The green area has been subject to some quarrying, with ditches shown in blue

There is little to point to the date of these ditches.  They could be Iron Age but so far there is nothing to confirm this.  Another possibility could be Civil War defences.

For more information about geophysical surveys see Non-destructive archaeology.

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