In 2012 we were selected by Berkeley Homes to conduct geoarchaeological investigations at Abell House and Cleland House in Westminster. The site, an area of known of geoarchaeological interest, was being transformed for a new multi-storey residential development.
For the geoarchaeological survey we used power augurs to drill boreholes and collect samples. A pneumatic hand-held drill bored 1m wide holes of varying depths. By keeping the holes small we were able to obtain the samples we needed whilst minimising the impact of our work on the construction programme. Following this, we collected borehole soil sample of plant and animal remains using a mechanised drill known as a terrier rig. The rig enabled us to drill to a depth of 6m to collect core samples which our environmental archaeology team were able to analyse off site.
The results of this study, along with results from the excavation of a series of small trenches, revealed that archaeological survival was restricted to the medieval and post-medieval periods. Our environmental assessment contributed to a wider Historic Environment Assessment, which provided Berkley Homes with a summary of the historic character of the site and the potential impact of construction. Prior to this work there had been a shortage of this type of geoarchaeological study in the area so our analysis has significantly increased our understanding of London’s environmental history and topography.