Test Pit 1: Prospect Place
27th & 28th April 2013
By Martin Cuthbert and Sarah Roe
Test Pit 1 was located just south of Prospect Place, a 19th century Road, and c. 30m east of the High Street.
We know the High Street has been in use since the 16th century, perhaps earlier. This test pit may be located at the rear of properties that perhaps once fronted onto the High Street.
Saturday saw our very first community dig and what a day! The weather threw all it could at us in the morning, apart from thunder and lightning. Hail did stop play a couple of times but once it cleared up the rest of the day was perfect weather.
Our first finds were modern with sweet wrappers and even a disposable cigarette lighter, with the first coin relating to an extension to the house in 2006! The bits of pottery included blue and white china and a few fragments of clay pipe.
The strange piece of metal was the most talked about piece for visitors, though it was in the side of the pit and had to be left and worked around! The brick also caused a few problems but Pauline from LBDAHS soon had it out.
Once out of the modern levels glass and pottery finds did increase, the most exciting find of Sarah’s day was the George III coin, dated 1806, that she found located close to the base of the pit. An excellent dateable find!! As we continued down it became clear that just under the coin was a compacted stone surface! Martin (our resident archaeologist) took over for a bit to see how deep it went but it was soon clear that it was quite shallow and we were excavating once more. The finds from the topsoil and made ground layers included twenty-three sherds of medieval pottery dating between 975 and 1600, including part of a jug handle with incised decoration. Soon it became clear that we were getting to the end of the dig and as time went on the finds were getting less with bone, pottery and old roof tile with peg holes. Soon all our volunteers had left us, just as Martin hit the natural gravel.
To his surprise we had excavated the test pit directly over an archaeological feature, possibly a pit. So we returned on the Sunday for more excavation.
Sub-circular feature 009, interpreted as a possible pit, was located in the northern edge of TP 1 and continued outside the limit of excavation. The full dimensions of the pit could not be ascertained due to the limitations of the test pit, but it was 0.65m deep and contained two distinct fills. The primary fill (008) comprised soft, mid-dark brown, silty clay with occasional small sub-angular stones. Seven sherds of pottery were recovered from fill (008) dating to the early Norman period, c.AD 1100. The upper fill (007) comprised soft, mid brown-orange mottling, silty clay with occasional small sub-angular stones and mortar fragments. A large sherd of shelly coarseware dating to 1100-1400 and a small sherd of greyware dating to 1050-1350 were recovered from fill (007). A small assemblage of animal bone was also recovered from pit 009.
The pottery assemblage suggests there has been continuous habitation within the vicinity of TP1 throughout the medieval period, with a peak of activity between 1100 and 1350.
A huge thank you to all our volunteers, Paul and Pauline from LBDAHS and of course Lynn for letting us dig a hole in her garden.