Wootton Quarr

Wootton Quarr

A series of  Neolithic trackways exist off the beach at Wootton Quarr near Fishbourne on the Isle of Wight. These trackways have been the subject of investigations by the Isle of Wight County Council Archaeology Unit, with funding from English Heritage, since the early 1990s.

The three trackways running down the beach were first surveyed in 1995. They were recorded to the low water mark but questions have remained as to their true extent beyond this point.

In April 1998, the MAT (the HWTMA) co-ordinated a project to locate and record the trackways underwater. Working with a team of maritime archaeology students from the University of Southampton, the remains of the trackways were exposed at the bottom of the beach in one distinctly stratified archaeological horizon. Moving up the beach, this horizon is eroded away but moving offshore into the sub-littoral zone, it becomes re-buried by a layer of fine blue silty clay.

To detect the distance these stratigraphic layers travelled offshore, core samples were taken and a sample trench was excavated. The trench revealed a substrate of hard clay at a depth of 230 mm. Above this, 150 mm of firm organic material was evident with a further 80mm layer of soft grey clay sitting above that.

The Neolithic trackways were recorded in the grey clay. The core samples suggested that this sequence continues offshore for at least another 15m. Landward of the trench, the organic material was exposed and tree stumps and trunks could be seen.

For further information, see the Isle of Wight Council Historic Landscape Characterisation Report and the Historic Routeways HEAP.