Mason's Field lies to the northeast of Farndon. During September/October 1998 an archaeological evaluation was carried out near the centre of the site to investigate features revealed in an aerial photograph taken on the 29th June 1976 by Cambridge University.
The photograph in question revealed large numbers of rectangular enclosures and possibly the scars of two roads that traversed Mason's field. The photograph also suggested activity on land to the southeast and southwest of the site.
The investigation was carried out to physically test the existence of early occupation on the site and to recover dating evidence that would allow us to establish a chronological sequence for occupation. Following permission granted by Mr K Mason, a dowsing survey was undertaken to pinpoint potential features and an evaluation trench was excavated. The Farndon Archaeological Research Institute (FARI) carried out the work that resulted in the identification of four phases of early activity. Occupation of the site possibly commenced before the Roman conquest and continued at least into the early 2nd century AD. Quality pottery from the late 1st to early 2nd Century AD was recovered.
The conclusions drawn indicate lasting settlement during the early stages of the Romano-British period with continuous changes in land usage. The information recovered following the result of the dowsing survey has allowed this ancient method of 'divining' to be reviewed. The FARI believes that dowsing is a low cost and effective method of archaeological site detection when used by a competent operator.
The evidence gathered from the excavation of the evaluation trench and the remaining uninvestigated features revealed on the aerial photograph indicate that the Mason's Field site is potentially rich in archaeological features and is therefore worthy of further investigation. FARI believe that our next step should be to undertake a detailed geophysical survey of Mason's Field in order to increase our knowledge of potential features and thereby enable us to plan more effectively.