Dig 4 – A new year and new objectives

Ok, Dig 4, what was the plan this time. So far we have investigated the church end of the village (Dig 2) and Streetly End (Dig 3), and we now have a much better idea of when and how these two settlements began to develop. The earliest post-prehistoric finds from Dig 2, dating to the Saxo-Norman period (9th-mid-11th century), were found near the church. This suggests that the present settlement of West Wickham was established in this area at this time, later extending eastwards away from the church along the High Street. This activity would appear to pre-date the settlements of Burton End and Streetly End which were, however, in existence by the 12th century, as pottery finds show.

Dig 4 – our volunteers gather for the dig briefing.

Work in Streetly End suggested that the settlement there had a much earlier origin than previously suspected. A Saxo-Norman settlement known as Streetly is listed in the Domesday Book (AD 1086) but it has previously been presumed that this refers to Streetly Hall Farm, approximately 1km to the west.

So far, eight test pits have been excavated in Streetly End. However, these have all been located north of the road. To redress this imbalance, Dig 4 aimed to dig two pits south of the road at 38 Streetly End, and on open land between 27 and 33 Streetly End. These were both close to find spots of medieval pottery in the field immediately south of the settlement edge, and it was hoped that excavation nearby might provide an answer to what this concentration of pottery meant.

Satellite image of Streetly End showing the 2017 test-pit locations (purple) and previously excavated test-pits (yellow).

Evidence from Burton End again suggested that settlement there was much earlier origin than previously suspected. However, settlement expansion of the High Medieval period (12th-14th century) appears to have been abruptly arrested in the later medieval period (late 14th-15th century), which saw the volume of pottery recovered severely reduced across the village, with none found at Burton End.

This decline does not appear to have been evenly felt across the parish of West Wickham, however, and so far only four test-pits have been excavated at Burton End. The second aim of Dig 4, therefore, was to increase this data-set by digging a further three test pits in Burton End: at land east of 104 High Street (White Gables); at 23/25 Burton End; and at 49 Burton End.

Satellite image of Burton End showing the 2017 test-pit locations (purple) and previously excavated test-pits (yellow).

Next time, the results from Dig 4 – Test-pit 1…


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