ARCHAEOLOGY of Hampstead Heath and area.
There is quite a lot of work that has been done in discovering and detailing the archaeology of the Hampstead Heath area and the visitor will find references throughout this website.
The author will describe just an outline of the subject and any detailed enquiries can be taken up with those more qualified to describe the subject, such as The Hendon and District Archaeological Society (HADAS)
The earliest settlers were Mesolithic forest hunters who settled here about 9000 years ago.
Their campsites on West Heath were excavated between 1976 and 1981 by HADAS.
These sites are to the north and east of The Leg of Mutton Pond and these sites date back 7000 years.
Dryland sites are rare, however, and the extensive site at West Heath, Hampstead is an example of human activity away from the floodplain using the higher, forested ground.
For many centuries the area remained heavily forested, with fertile land drained by the Fleet, Tyburn and Westbourne rivers, and other streams.
They chose different types of stone for specific purposes.
Don Cooper, chairman of HADAS writes to the author as follows:
"West Heath was first discovered in 1973 when a member of the Hendon and District Archaeological Society (HADAS) collected a number of flint blades from a sandstone bluff near the Leg of Mutton pond on Hampstead Heath.
Continued collection revealed a potentially important Mesolithic site which was undergoing erosion prompting excavation by HADAS in 1976.
The excavation took place on two sites -
The acid nature of the sandy soil prevented the preservation of organic remains other than charcoal and, for this reason, the
spa site was opened up in a waterlogged area 300 metres to the south-
The spa site yielded important sequences of insects, pollen and macroscopic plant remains, but unfortunately no artefacts. Another excavation on the site remains to be published."
Their tools were made from natural materials, such as stone, bone and wood and some of these are on display at Burgh House.
There is quite a lot of evidence that The Romans were occupying areas around Hampstead.
Roman pottery has been found in Hampstead and in Highgate Wood.
The Roman pottery is shown in the illustrations and was found during the digs in the early 1970s.
The kiln is approximately 2000 years old.
It was found high on a ridge in Highgate Wood which, strictly speaking, is in Harringay
The Wood was once part of the ancient Middlesex Forest.
Between 1966 and 1974, ten kilns were found which produced a range of kitchen and table wares for Roman households such as beakers, bowls, dishes and jugs.
The kilns were in operation between AD50 and AD160.
The area is composed of London clay and there was a good supply of wood for fuel
Streams would have been dug to bring water across the site and the Highgate potteries would have required sand as temper for the wheel made pottery.
As no buildings have been found, it is surmised that the Highgate potters were probably itinerant, travelling between areas where demand was made.
The Highgate Wood pottery was situated between two main Roman routes: Ermine Street to the east through Tottenham and Watling Street to the west to St. Albans.
The Anglo Saxons were prolific in the area and there is much evidence of them in The Heath area.
There is a very obvious Anglo Saxon ditch on the East Heath, dating from about AD986.
In the article above, ancient boundaries are discussed in detail.
The historical boundaries that have been prevalent on Hampstead Heath over the ages are shown by The City Of London's map:
CLICK HERE FOR THE BOUNDARIES MAP
There are some pictures of items on display at Burgh House that are part of the Hampstead History:
Leather apprentice shoes, made in 1890
A fragment of Clay Pipe found on The Heath, near The Spaniards Inn.
A pearl brooch made of pearls from mussels in The Leg Of Mutton Pond.
A temperance medal from about 1836
A nineteenth century pewter tankard.
Two nineteenth century bricks from 19, Lyndhurst Gardens
This is just a brief account of the Heath and its archaeology.