Dig 2 Results

Field 1

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Field 1, looking south.

Field 1 is north-west of St Mary’s Church. Broadly trapezoid, it measures c.170m north-east to south-west by c.100m north-west to south-east, and covers c.1.5 hectares. Presently, the field is rough arable grassland used as a paddock for horses. To the north and west, Field 1 is bound by open fields. To the east is the parish church of St Mary and its associated graveyard and to the south is the modern Balsham Road.

A number of straight earthworks crossing are described as probable boundary banks and a sunken way leading to the church. The earthworks coincide with field boundaries shown on the 1812 enclosure map of the village but may have a much earlier origin.

Test-pit 1 (WWI/15/1)

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Test-Pit 1 under excavation (left) and finished (right).

Test-pit 1 was excavated at the northern end of Field 1 at TL 61196 49322 (Figure 6). Over the course of two days, the test-pit was dug to a depth of c.0.5m with five spits recorded. Natural was not reached but because of the paucity of finds, time constraints and difficult ground conditions (hard and dry soil) it was decided that continued digging was unlikely to produce anything of further value and excavation was halted.

During the excavation a c.50mm layer of turf and c.0.25m of brownish-grey clayey-silt topsoil (Spits 1-3) was removed. Beneath this was greyish-brown silty-clay subsoil containing sparse chalk flecks and flint (Spits 4-5). Subsoil was still present at the base of the trench, c.0.5m below ground level. No archaeological features or deposits were recorded.

A single piece of clay pipe stem (AD 1558-1900) was found in the topsoil (Spit 3). Pottery from this pit is entirely high medieval (AD 1100-1400). Four sherds of early medieval sandy ware (EMW) and a single sherd of Hedingham ware (HED) were recovered from the subsoil (Spits 4-5). These are all very small and worn body sherds, their condition indicative of material that has been in the plough zone for a long period of time and therefore probably deposited in manuring spreads onto the medieval fields surrounding the village. Other finds include a small quantity of animal bone and oyster shell, again probably deposited in manuring spreads, and a burnt flint.

Test-pit 2 (WWI/15/2)

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Test-Pit 2 under excavation (left) and finished (right).

Test-pit 2 was excavated in the south-eastern corner of Field 1 at TL 61146 49221. Excavated in one day, the test-pit was dug to a depth of c.0.4m with four spits recorded. One quarter of the trench was dug a further c.0.1m to confirm that natural ground had been reached.

During the excavation a c.50mm layer of turf and c.0.15m of brownish-grey clayey-silt topsoil (Spits 1-2) was removed. Beneath this was a c.0.1m thick deposit of compacted chalk and flint rubble (Spit 3) lying over c.0.1m of greyish-brown silty-clay subsoil (Spit 4). Natural substratum was reached at the bottom of the trench c.0.4m below ground level. It was greyish-orange clay mixed with abundant small chalk nodules and flint. The compacted chalk and flint rubble layer (Spit 3) may be of archaeological interest, perhaps a surface, otherwise no archaeological features or deposits were recorded.

Pottery from this test-pit was Saxo-Norman (AD 850-1100) or high medieval (AD 1100-1400) in date. One sherd of Stamford ware (ST) and fifteen sherds of early medieval sandy ware (EMW) were recovered from three spits (2-4). Pottery from Spits 2 and 3 (the topsoil and chalk/flint rubble layer) are likely to be residual as post-medieval ceramic building material was also found in these layers. Pottery from Spit 4 could be stratified, suggesting that the formation of the subsoil is medieval in date. All pottery sherds were small and worn, and probably derived from manuring spreads in plough soil. Other finds included a small quantity of unidentifiable iron objects in Spit 2 (probably modern); animal bone and oyster shell (Spits 2-4); and a flint core and secondary flake of probable Mesolithic or Neolithic date in Spit 2.

Test-pit 3 (WWI/15/3)

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Test-Pit 3 under excavation (left) and finished (right).

Test-pit 3 was located on the eastern side of Field 1 at TL 61205 49272, on a slightly raised square platform tentatively identified as a medieval house platform. This was close to test-pit WWI/13/4 dug in 2013. Over the course of two days, the test-pit was dug to a depth of c.60m with six spits recorded.

During the excavation a c.50mm layer of turf and c.0.15m of brownish-grey clayey-silt topsoil (Spits 1-2) was removed. Beneath this was a c.0.2m thick layer of paler brownish-grey silty-clay containing sparse chalk flecks and flint (Spits 3-4) and greyish-brown silty-clay subsoil containing more chalk flecks and flint (Spits 5-6). Natural substratum was reached at the bottom of the trench c.0.6m below ground level. It was greyish-orange clay mixed with abundant small chalk nodules and flint.

Finds from Test-Pit 3 - medieval pottery from the occupation layer (above) and an iron knife blade from the topsoil (below).

Finds from Test-Pit 3 – medieval pottery from the occupation layer (above) and an iron knife blade from the topsoil (below).

Pottery from this test-pit was Saxo-Norman (AD 850-1100) or high medieval (AD 1100-1400) in date. A single sherd each of Thetford ware (THET) and St Neots ware (SN), thirteen sherds of early medieval sandy ware (EMW), and a single sherd each of early medieval shelly ware (SHC) and medieval greyware (HG) were recovered from two spits (3-4). Although many sherds were small and worn the average sherd weight was higher than other test-pits in Field 1 and Test-pit 3 is the only location in the field to produce pot rim and base sherds. Absent later material in Spits 3 and 4, this pottery is likely to be from stratified occupation layers dating to the 13th or 14th century. The presence of small quantities of Saxo-Norman material might also suggest that the site has been occupied since the late 9th or 10th century, whilst the absence of later medieval wares indicates that it had become abandoned by the 15th century. Other finds from Spits 3 and 4 include a piece of burnt daub or fired clay, a burnt stone, animal bone and oyster shell. From the topsoil (Spit 2), several pieces of post-medieval CBM, and an animal tooth, iron nail and two pieces of an iron knife blade were recovered. Whilst further small pieces of animal bone were found in the subsoil (Sits 5-6).

Field 2

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Field 2, looking north-east.

Field 2 is located south-west of St Mary’s Church. Broadly rectangular, it measures c.95m north-east to south-west by c.70m north-west to south-east, covering c.0.6 hectares. Presently, the field is rough arable grassland used as a paddock for horses. To the south and west, Field 2 is bound by open fields. To the east is the moated site of Manor Farm and to the north is Balsham Road and the parish church of St Mary.

Two parallel earth banks cross the centre of the field from north-west to south-east. Both coincide with field boundaries shown on the 1812 enclosure map of the village.

Test-pit 4 (WWI/15/4)

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Test-Pit 4 under excavation (left) and finished (right).

Test-pit 4 was located at the northern end of Field 2 at TL 61256 49570. Over the course of two days, the test-pit was dug to a depth of c.50m with five spits recorded.

During the excavation a c.50mm layer of turf and c.0.15m of brownish-grey clayey-silt topsoil (Spits 1-2) was removed. Beneath this was greyish-brown silty-clay subsoil containing sparse chalk flecks and flint (Spits 3-5). Natural substratum was reached at the bottom of the trench c.0.5m below ground level. It was yellowish-brown sandy-clay mixed with abundant small chalk nodules and flint.

Pottery from this test-pit was predominately Saxo-Norman (AD 850-1100) or high medieval (AD 1100-1400) in date. A single sherd each of Stamford ware (ST) and St Neot’s ware (SN), nine sherds of early medieval sandy ware (EMW) and a single sherd of early medieval shelly ware (SHC) were recovered from three spits (2, 4 & 5). Absent later material in Spits 4 and 5, this pottery is likely to be stratified from subsoil dating to the 13th or 14th century. The presence of small quantities of Saxo-Norman material might also suggest that there has been occupation in the vicinity since the late 9th or 10th century, whilst the absence of later medieval wares indicates that activity had likely ceased by the 15th century. Two small and worn sherds of glazed red earthenware (GRE), one with a brown glaze, the other with yellow, were recovered from the topsoil (Spit 2) along with a small piece of post-medieval glass. These date to the 18th century or later. Other finds from the topsoil (Spits 1-2) include an oyster shell and six pieces of coal. Two pieces of coal and two fragments of animal bone were recovered from Spit 3, the interface between topsoil and subsoil; whilst three fragments of animal bone were found in the subsoil (Spits 4-5).

Test-pit 5 (WWI/15/5)

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Test-Pit 5 being backfilled (left) and finished (right).

Test-pit 5 was located at the northern end of Field 2 at TL 61245 49578. Over the course of two days, the test-pit was dug to a depth of c.55m with six spits recorded.

During the excavation a c.50mm layer of turf and c.0.20m of brownish-grey clayey-silt topsoil (Spits 1-3) was removed. Beneath this was greyish-brown silty-clay subsoil containing sparse chalk flecks and flint (Spits 4-5). Below the subsoil was a c.0.1m thick layer of orange/brown silty-clay mixed with abundant small chalk and flint nodules (Spit 6). Natural substratum was reached at c.0.55m below ground level. It was yellowish-brown sandy-clay mixed with abundant small chalk nodules and flint.

A single sherd of residual Roman pottery was found in Spit 3, a worn sherd of Samian ware (SAM) dating to the 1st or 2nd century AD. The rest of the pottery was Saxo-Norman (AD 850-1100) or high medieval (AD 1100-1400) in date. Five sherds of St Neot’s ware (SN), twenty-four sherds of early-medieval sandy ware (EMW), two sherds of early medieval shelly ware (SHC) and a single sherd of Hertfordshire greyware (HG) were recovered from three spits (4-6). Absent later material in Spits 4, 5 and 6, this pottery is likely to be stratified in subsoil dating to the 13th or 14th century. The presence of small quantities of Saxo-Norman material might also suggest that there has been occupation in the vicinity since the late 9th or 10th century, whilst the absence of later medieval wares indicates that activity had likely ceased by the 15th century. Other finds from the topsoil (Spits 2-3) include animal bone, modern barb-wire, modern glass and four small fragments of modern yellow and red brick or tile; whilst two oyster shells were recovered from the subsoil (Spit 4).

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