AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL survey is being carried out at Mapledurham Playing fields this month, as part of preparation work required for landscape improvements at the site.
Last month, the Mapledurham Playing Fields Trustees Sub-Committee approved a Landscape Masterplan for the site at the same time as agreeing to lease part of the playing fields to the Education and Schools Funding Agency (ESFA), for a permanent new site for the Heights School.
The archaeological survey now taking place forms part of the pre-work needed for the landscape improvements, as agreed by the Sub-Committee.
The Council is now working closely with Berkshire Archaeology to survey and record the archaeological landscape of the fields. Officers are also liaising with the local football club to minimise the impact on their activities whilst the work takes place.
Initial non-invasive geophysical surveys of the site, which provide a picture of the land’s underlying archaeology, took place earlier this month to help inform the scope of the investigation work required.
Visitors to the fields this month may notice a series of exploratory trenches appearing from Monday 23rd July. Up to thirty, two-metre wide trenches are likely to be dug across the site and the work will take about three weeks.
The work will contribute to the archaeological understanding of the area, recording any findings and, as is standard in any pre-development work, it will inform the planning submission for the future landscape works agreed by the Sub-Committee.
Separate to the archaeological work, but happening in parallel, two trial soakaway test pits will also be dug between Tuesday 17th and Thursday 19th July, with water tankers arrive on site during this time to test the drainage capability of the land, with a view to seeking planning permission to install drainage to an area of the sports turf.
Cllr Debs Edwards, Chair of The Mapledurham Playing Fields Trustees Sub-Committee, said:
“We are working proactively with Berkshire Archaeology, the statutory planning consultee on archaeology matters within the county, to ensure this site has a thorough archaeological survey before we move on to the next stage of preparatory landscape work. It will be fascinating to see what historical information the survey will reveal about how the land was used in the past.
“The site investigation work taking place this month forms part of the pre-work leading up to a planning submission for the landscape works on this site, as agreed by the Sub-Committee. The current preparation work is estimated to last around three weeks, with the planning application potentially submitted early 2019.”
The full report to the Mapledurham Playing Fields Trustees Sub Committee on 20th June can be viewed here: www.reading.gov.uk/media/8941/item05/pdf/item05_1.pdf