Brook House Farm is the name given to an Iron Age farmstead site in Halewood.
It consists of an enclosure surrounded by two ditches (one large and one small), and was discovered via an aerial photograph in 1990.
The site was excavated in advance of the building of the junction between the A5300 and the A563, first published in 2000. The main, larger, ditch was 3 metres deep by 8 metres wide, and suggests that the site was quite an important one in the middle Iron Age (400 – 50 BC). It may have belonged to a chieftain of a tribe, a locally powerful person.
The second ditch, a smaller feature which sat outside the first, may simply have been to allow the corraling of cattle between the inner and outer ditch. It has been suggested that cattle were an important symbol of wealth in the Iron Age, and whoever was powerful enough to build such an imposing structure would certainly have wanted to control large numbers of cattle.
Cattle farming would have occured at Brook House Farm, but it may also be true that cattle were brought from elsewhere and exchanged, traded or given as payment, overseen by the chieftain. The site was first occupied in the middle of the Iron Age, and was then abandoned later in the same period. It was re-occupied in the Romano-British period, as suggested by pottery evidence (see below).
The site was datable through the pottery types found in the ditches. There were 90 pieces of Cheshire Very Coarse Pottery (VCP), six of which were found in a Roman Iron Age setting. Other pottery included local Romano-British pieces and three Samian fragments.
Within the enclosure a number of structures were found across the entire area. There were also gullies and some pits, and slag found on-site reveals that some iron working probably took place at Brook House Farm.
The landscape around Brook House Farm
Analysis of the filled-in ditches suggests that the local landscape during the initial occupation of the enclosure was heavily wooded, with the trees encroaching close to the monument. In later centuries the wood was disappearing, either through human activity or a changing climate, and the dense woodland was replaced with a willow scrub woodland.
Cowell, RW and Philpott, RA, 2000, Prehistoric, Roman and medieval excavations in the Lowlands of North West England: Excavations along the Line of the A5300 in Tarbock and Halewood, National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside, Liverpool.
Engerdahl, T., 2010, A World apart? An Investigation of the Roman Influence on Rural Settlements in Britain compared to Sweden during the Roman Iron Age, Bachelor thesis in archaeology, Gotland University. (available at http://hgo.diva-portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid=diva2:376110, retrieved 4th August 2011)