Between August 2021 and February 2022, a team of professional archaeologists investigated the fields south of Thorpe Road in Weeley, Essex. From prehistoric pits to a Napoleonic war military camp, this site had lots to reveal and we posted regular updates on this blog.

  • October 2017

    The archaeological and historical background of the fields south of Thorpe Road in Weeley was researched by Colchester Archaeological Trust to understand what was already known about the area. Download the report here.

  • July 2020

    A geophysical survey was undertaken by Magnitude Surveys to locate archaeological remains under the ground. Sensors were used to detect magnetised archaeological objects, structures, and features within the sub-soil. The signals detected a potential trackway, enclosures, pits, and trenches. Download the report here.

  • January - February 2021

    As a condition of planning permission, 144 trial trenches were dug by archaeologists at Oxford Archaeology East to investigate the signals detected by the geophysical survey and check the location, condition, and type of archaeological remains ahead of full excavation. The team found evidence of human activity from prehistory to the Roman occupation. Of particular interest was the discovery of brick buildings and military finds associated with a Napoleonic camp and barracks from the late 1700s/1800s in the south-west of the site. Download the report here.

  • February 2021

    Specialists from the University of Reading, Quest, dug 18 test pits to investigate the potential to recover evidence for human activity from the Palaeolithic, the early Stone Age, at deeper depths than the trial trenches. Only one definite artefact was recovered from 1600 litres of gravel, considered of limited significance. Quest have not recommended further investigation for Palaeolithic material. Download the report here.

  • August 2021

    Open area excavation starts. The topsoil and sub-soil will be removed using mechanical diggers under direction of archaeologists, to reveal the archaeological features. These will be dug by hand to recover any finds that might give clues about when and why people used this area in the past. The work is being undertaken by Oxford Archaeology Cambridge office with consultation from RPS Heritage. It has been approved by the archaeological advisor to Tendring District Council (Essex Place Services) and will be regularly monitored by them.

  • October 2021

    We worked with the Ministry of Defence on Operation Nightingale, an initiative to assist the recovery of wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans by getting them involved in archaeological investigations.

  • January 2022

    There will be a final open day before the end of the excavation, on Saturday 22nd January 2022, and we will give a final presentation at Weeley Village Hall at a public meeting hosted by Weeley Parish Council on Wednesday 16th February 2022. For details and timing see: Upcoming tours and talk 2022 Tendring District Council's archaeological advisor will check and sign off the fieldwork stage of the project.

  • 2022 onwards

    Once the excavations end and all the finds have been washed and counted, they will be sent to specialists to identify and make recommendations for further analysis, before a full report is written. This will be checked by Essex Place Services and submitted to the county’s Historic Environment Record. The records and finds will be deposited with the Colchester + Ipswich Museums Service, as required by Essex Place Services, to be accessible to researchers and the public.

  • Post excavation assessment

    Once an excavation finishes, the finds will be washed and any environmental soil samples processed. All of the paperwork and photographs will be documented and a project database created. All artefacts and environmental samples will be counted, weighed and assessed by finds specialists or environmental archaeologists. Additional analysis, like radio carbon dating, may also be undertaken - and will inform a report that sets out the initial understanding of the site and recommendations for any further research.

Our finds...

Military Button

This button is associated with the 5th Dragoon Guards and dates to c.1788-96. Around the outside of the button is the regimental motto VESTIGIA NULLA RETRORSUM (Never a Step Backwards/We Do Not Retreat) with a crown at the top, above a Hannover Horse with the (now barely legible) letters V D G (5th Dragoon Guards) below. The button was probably silvered rather than gilded, but no trace now remains, while the relatively small size (16mm diameter) suggests it may have been a cuff button. The 5th Dragoon Guards wore red coats very similar to the infantry, with green facings. Records from the Parish Register at Weeley indicate that the 5th Dragoon Guards were at the barracks between May 1809 and May 1811 (


Gun Flint

This is one of four gunflints recovered from various locations across the site. All flints were 1” to 1” 1/8th suggesting they are all smooth bore ‘Brown Bess’ musket or carbine flints. Two of the flints are smaller suggesting they may be carbine flints used by the Light Dragoons. The high quality material and method of manufacture suggest they were made at Brandon, the centre of the British flint knapping industry during the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.

weeley flint

Meet the team

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