Between the summer and winter of 2013, NAA carried out excavations and monitoring on a Yorkshire Water pipeline across the Vale of Pickering, between Seamer and Staxton in North Yorkshire. The southern half of the route ran alongside the A64 road, and some of the working corridor overlapped with the East Coast Pipeline (ECP). There was therefore a ready context for the new work, with the results of the two projects neatly dovetailing.
Peat deposits recorded to the west of the A64 possibly represented former wetlands fringing the post-glacial Lake Flixton, which has long-since disappeared. A variety of waterlogged plant remains indicative of a slow-moving water environment were recovered from the peat and from the palaeochannels of former streams. The topsoil in one area produced a number of residual worked flints dating from the Mesolithic to later Bronze Age.
In the north of the pipe route, a Roman road and its roadside ditches, which were first seen by ECP, were recorded along with the continuation of a related field system. The compacted gravel road surface was flanked by ditches that had been repeatedly re-cut, and removal of the road surface revealed earlier ditches running on a similar alignment. Similar ditches had been recorded beneath the Roman road at other locations by ECP, which contained hand-built pottery and were suggested to represent the line of a pre-Roman trackway.
The field system consisted of a series of regular east–west ditches. Although no datable finds came from the ditches, Roman pottery sherds were found in a buried soil deposit. A fragment of hand-built Iron Age pottery, more Roman sherds and an assemblage of medieval and post-medieval material were found in disturbed, much later deposits representing ridge and furrow cultivation.
South of the Roman features, several parallel east–west ditches were recorded. One corresponded to a boundary depicted on the First Edition Ordnance Survey map, and it is likely that all were post-medieval field boundaries. The southern part of the pipeline contained little archaeology, although an area of cobbles, also seen by ECP, may have been associated with a post-medieval farm.
The Seamer to Staxton pipeline renewal scheme produced a range of archaeological evidence dating from early prehistoric times to the post-medieval period. Although fragmentary and geographically dispersed, the findings complemented and elaborated the results from ECP, and helped further understanding of past human exploitation of the Vale of Pickering.