This is a round up of our digs from 2015!
Test Pit 25 – Vicarage Lane – This was the first of several digs planned for this garden to discover the site of the potential ditch to Castle Hill. Augering had already been carried out on the site in the summer of 2013 and picked up some anomalies in the depths of the soil. This particular dig did not uncover a ditch, but it did have some interesting pottery assemblage. In the top layer we had a mixture of pottery from 900AD to 1900AD, there was only one piece of pottery from the next layer and that was a small piece of Roman.
Test Pit 26 – South Tinkers Hole Farm – this was one of two digs we carried out on the same day. Again this is one of a series of digs that are to be carried out to determine the age of the watering hole and the convergence of 5 pathways, two of which lead from potential Iron Age and Saxon villages. South Tinkers is a difficult area to dig due to it being used as part of the WWII airfield. This dig we carried out in a grass area behind the house and inside an area that looked like an enclosure of some description. The area had been disturbed previously as a large pipe was uncovered, however there were some pieces of Red Earthenware as well as the usual Victoriana.
Test Pit 27 – South Tinkers Hole – the position of this dig was outside the enclosure area, and studying the map of the WWII buildings, outside what we believed to be the building area. However we came across a wall that evidently was dating from that period, it was dug into sterile ground. There were a few bits of pottery, but mainly building materials.
Test Pit 28 – Church Street – we have carried out a number of digs in Church Street. This particular garden was behind a dig we did in 2013 at Test Pit 15, a modern soakaway was discovered but also evidence of natural subsoil which suggested it was outside the medieval area. Test Pit 28 was one for many firsts for us! It contained the first post hole we have found so far, the first burning area and possibly the first sign of proper habitation with a ditch and platform. The burning area consisted of a sequence of layers of burning and clay placed on each one. At the bottom of the test pit there was evidence of a small amount of building material – Totternhoe Clunch and a piece of Roman roof tile. The pottery dated as far back as the 11th century.
Test Pit 29 – Vicarage Lane – In 2014 we dug this garden in a terraced area. Due to the depth we were never actually able to finish the test pit. The pottery assemblage had 3 sherds of Saxo-Norman pottery. It was decided that we would return to the garden but dig in the bottom of the garden rather than the top. Again we never finished the test pit, but there was our largest amount of bone and pottery rims found to date, these were dated back to the Saxo-Norman period.
Test Pit 29a – Second Dig Vicarage Lane – The re-dig was as good as the first, though we went a lot further down than we have done on any of our other digs. Luckily we hadn’t quite hit the original test pit so there was a small ledge running around two sides allowing us to go deeper. The pottery was identical to the previous test pit, so we can safely date the garden back to the Saxo-Norman period.
Test Pit 30 -Church Street – In the back of what was a rag and bone man’s house we were digging on what we had been told was probably the spoil from the cellar. After cutting through various roots we discovered that it was far more interesting! A mix of Victorian pottery with old sherds suggested that it wasn’t dug out and placed there in any contextual order. A large deposit of bones, but with no pit or change of context confused us, and when, after 20cms, the modern pot stopped completely, though not the older pot, but again with no context change, it became even more confusing! The feature at the bottom, a V-Shaped cut, was found in sterile soil so there is no indication of whether it was natural or man-made, running East to West. A similar gully was discovered in one of the Queen’s Head digs but that ran from North West to South East. The pottery was dated back to the 11th-14th century, very similar to that of Test Pit 28, but in more quantity.
Test Pit 31 – Aylesbury Road – This dig sadly was marred by the weather. It started off
pleasant enough but unfortunately the torrential rain moved in during the morning so we had to cover the test pit and returned the following weekend when it was drier! We are very thankful we did as the results we got were really interesting. From the complete skeleton of a large dog, and various other animal remains, to two of our earliest pieces of Saxon pottery of the 5th-9th century! We did manage to confirm that it was also a butchers shop in one of the properties many previous lives!
Test Pit 32 – Aylesbury Road – This dig was in the new Vicarage garden over looking the spectacular Chiltern Hills. The context stayed the same through the whole pit. The pottery was a mix of modern to others dating back to the 11th-14th century. The other test pits along this part have shown how ploughing has affected the pottery timeline.
Test Pit 33 – Jubilee Green – As always this is the part of the Carnival that always draws the attention! This year we changed the way it was run and opened the test pit up to the public in the afternoon. We had plenty of children joining us, and Minecraft is evidently the best way to get them interested in archaeology at a young age! As for the Finds, slightly different from last year’s, though there were more clay pipe parts. No Roman, but we did find 11th-14th century, however it was all mixed up with modern. There seems to have been more movement around this area than further into the Green itself.
Test Pit 34- Moorlands – This test pit was an interesting one as the hole was almost exactly the same size as the area we were digging in! Unfortunately it looked like it had been built up with builders rubble so we didn’t get anything much from it. However, it was great fun to do and certainly gave us some typical Time Team comments of ‘I think I’ve found something!’ followed by ‘Maybe not…..’.