Dig 4 – This was the medieval occupation we wanted to find at Test-Pit 4

North-east of Test-Pit 3, our fourth test-pit was dug in an area of lawn in the back garden of 23-25 Burton End, situated on the north side of the road running through the hamlet.

Excavation removed 50cm of soil to reveal natural clay at the base. Archaeology comprised 10cm of turf covering 10cm of chalk, 20cm of topsoil and 10cm of subsoil. A modern ceramic pipe running on a NNE/SSW alignment, 50cm below ground level, had disturbed the eastern edge of the pit.

Test-Pit 4 being excavated.

Finds included a large quantity of pottery and metalwork, with some clay pipe, glass, animal bone and flint, all indicative of domestic occupation nearby since the medieval period through to the present day. The pottery from the lower two spits (4 and 5) was almost entirely of medieval date, mainly sandy wares with some shelly wares, all most likely dating to the 12th and 13th century. The small amount of later material in these spits could be contamination from the pipe trench running along the pit edge. Pottery from the higher spits (1-3) was a mixture of residual medieval material and 18th and 19th century wares. Significantly, there appeared to be no continuity of occupation, with no obvious later medieval or early post-medieval material present.

Medieval pottery from the bottom of Test-Pit 4 (with three post-medieval sherds).

The assemblage of metalwork almost entirely came from immediately beneath the turf line and appears to be a collection of scrap metal. Along with assorted handmade and machine-made iron nails was a meat-hook, a couple of large iron staples, the head of a small mattock-type tool, a buckle, a door-bolt and a hinge, an iron ring, and a horseshoe. One metal find of note was a deprimed (used) ‘Boxer primer’ from the base of a metal cartridge, with the head stamp ‘Royal Letters Patent’. Colonel Edward Mounier Boxer patented the design in England in 1866.

Scrap metal from Test-Pit 4.

The underside of a ‘Boxer primer’ from the base of a metal cartridge, with the head stamp ‘Royal Letters Patent’.

Another find of note was most of a blue glass bottle (missing its neck and top) stamped with ‘Robson and Sons, Pure Mineral Waters, Saffron Waldon’.

The finds assemblage and their location within the test pit is very suggestive of two distinct phases of occupation nearby, one medieval (most likely 12th to 13th century) and one perhaps from the 17th or 18th century to the present day.


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