In the summer of 2015, five 1m sq archaeological test pits were excavated in two fields adjacent to St Mary’s Church at West Wickham in south-east Cambridgeshire (fig. 1). The excavation was organised by West Wickham and District Local History Club to continue research started during the West Wickham Big Village Dig in 2013.
Dig 2 took place over the weekend of 11-12 July, 2015 as part of the Council for British Archaeology’s Festival of Archaeology. Over the weekend, more than thirty volunteers from the village and surrounding community took part in the excavations with professional on-site archaeological instruction and supervision.
Land around the Dig 2 project area has previously been subject to a number of archaeological investigations (fig.2). In the late 1980s, Haverhill and District Archaeological Group systematically field walked arable fields in a 1km radius of St Mary’s Church, recording small concentrations of Roman pottery and tile to the north and south-west of the study area. Substantial linear earthwork features, interpreted as 19th century field banks, were also recorded; and geophysical survey and limited excavation investigated medieval and post-medieval occupation in Pond Meadow, a field east of the church (WWI/87-88).
During the Big Village Dig, one test-pit in particular (WWI/13/4), situated in a field north-west of the church, produced a small stratified assemblage of Saxo-Norman and medieval pottery suggesting that the site had been occupied from the 11th-14th centuries, after which time it was abandoned.
This field, dubbed Field 1 for Dig 2, is effectively divided into three areas by a series of linear earthworks, thought to represent 19th century field banks. In the corner of one of these earthworks, a slightly raised square platform is tentatively identified as a medieval house platform. It was decided that three test-pits would be excavated in this field, one in each of the three areas to ensure that a representative sample of the field was excavated and to investigate the potential house platform.
- Test-pit 1 (WWI/15/1) was positioned at the northern end of the field away from the present village and closest to a Roman find spot in the neighbouring field.
- Test-pit 2 (WWI/15/2) was dug at the southern end of the field, closer to Balsham Road and the parish church.
- Test-pit 3 (WWI/15/3) was dug into the possible house platform to corroborate results from the 2013 excavation.
A second field (Field 2), not investigated in 2013, but close to Field 1, the church and a medieval moated manorial site at Manor Farm was also investigated as part of Dig 2, to further clarify the extent, nature and date of any occupation in the vicinity. As the archaeological potential in Field 2 was unknown, two test-pits (WWI/15/4 and WWI/15/5) were dug at the northern end of the field, closest to the parish church and modern village, as a first step in its investigation.
Click on a link below to read more about the project:
Or download a copy of the full archaeological report by clicking on the report cover below: