2016 Burrow Walls and Calva Hill Survey

March to April 2016 saw the final block of geophysical survey under the Discovering Derventio project. For this final phase, we worked with our volunteers on the site of Burrow Walls and then moved up to Calva Hill, both in Workington, focusing down the Derwent River Valley.

For this survey, we used our magnetometry and resistivity equipment, which enabled us to have more volunteers working on the sites. The volunteers were able to work with both sets of equipment and we were able to compare the results with them on site each day.

The Burrow Walls site had been previously investigated in 1955 by R. L. Bellhouse. His excavations had shown that there were 3 defensive ditches and recovered Roman pottery dating from the 4th century. During our survey, we had hoped to be able to confirm any entrances still remaining as well as evidence of activity within and around the fort.

The results for both the resistivity and magnetometry surveys can be seen in the report (link below) and they both show clearly the 3 ditches. However, there is not much activity around or within the area representing the remainder of the fort. It had been suggested that the site may have been a Hadrianic fort. Unfortunately, our results do not show the activity expected, so it is suggested that this site represents a smaller fort/fortlet.

We moved up onto Calva Hill, which afforded the volunteers with lovely views to the west over the town to the sea, Scotland and Isle of Man on good days. We continued using both sets of equipment.

The results revealed much more activity on the hilltop and plateau. The nature of the results suggest a Prehistoric ritual landscape consisting of a double ditched henge monument constructed in the Late Neolithic period (underlies/partly destroyed by a 19th century reservoir). This site was held in high importance as a ritual site right up until the Bronze Age, when a cairn and two ring ditches were constructed. In addition to these features, there are a series of ditches which lead up to the plateau, forming access pathways from the west and south west. The henge has an entrance way to the south west and the other monuments are to the south west of the entrance.

In addition to all the activity to the south west, there were some indications in the results of some disturbance in the area of the northern slope of the hill. We were kindly given permission by the landowners and tenants to investigate, so with staff from Wardell Armstrong, we opened up some test pits in this area of disturbance, in which we found pieces of struck flint and a possible crude scraper. The details of the test pits are available in the report.

This site was an interesting one to finish the project off for the volunteers, providing amazing results with both equipment and revealing more to the landscape than had been previously thought.

The full report is available to download through the link below.

A big thank you to all of our volunteers who turned up in all weathers to help us and to Ken Needham for the photos.

Burrow Walls and Calva Survey Final Report

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