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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER WORK

GENERAL CONCLUSIONS

The overall objective of this project was to complete a field-walking survey for the whole of Bingham parish in a reasonable amount of time and carry it out in such a way as to allow an analysis of the distribution of the finds to answer questions about the history of settlement in the parish. The decision was taken to collect finds of all types and ages up to and including 20th century and for the survey to be done at 10%, although it was started as a 20% survey and later changed.

The principal conclusion is that the distribution of the finds that were collected at 10% forms patterns that lend themselves to analysis and a credible history of settlement emerges from the analysis. More parish-wide surveys need to be done to test the methodology and the basic assumptions behind the analysis and then to see if there is any kind of consistency in the findings. This is important because field-walked finds provide physical evidence that can be used to support or challenge interpretations made from documentary evidence.

The interpretation of the medieval period offered here was made possible primarily because the fabric type series for the period is well dated. Nottingham was a major production centre for pottery in the middle ages and over 80% of the medieval finds in the fields around Bingham are from Nottingham potteries. This emphasises the importance of having well dated fabric type series for all periods if distribution analyses of field-walked finds is to be useful on a wider scale. There is certainly a contrast between the medieval and post medieval pottery. With over 80% of post medieval finds being coarse ware, about which little is known, detailed analysis of distribution is not productive. Yet the post medieval period in Bingham is poorly documented and would benefit from any additional sources of information that can be provided by field walking.

A good deal of effort was put into establishing a workable methodology for doing the distribution analysis. Key points are these:

  • Distributions were examined by three methods according to the period. These were:
    • Dot maps
    • Densities displayed in a 100 metre square grid
    • Densities displayed in fields
  • Dot maps were used when there was a small number of finds or there was obvious clustering with large areas with no finds.
  • The 100 metre square grid was used for the period up to general enclosure when there were sufficient finds for meaningful statistical analysis. The 100-metre grid was constructed for the whole parish and aligned to the National Grid. The categories of finds densities were selected using the Jenks method of natural breaks, which is the default method in ArcGIS9, the software used in this study.
  • Densities displayed by field were used only for the period after general enclosure. For the 18th century the field system on the 1776 map was used. For the 19th century the field system used on the 1883 O. S. map was used. Finds densities displayed according to modern fields were never used. So many of the fields are the result of extensive hedgerow clearance in the 1960s that they have no relevance to any previous period of history.
  • Although the transect spacing was 20 metres the finds collected along each transect were bagged in five-metre stints. This gave some validity to the spatial representation of the stint locations by twelve-figure grid references and enabled a viable 100-metre square grid to be developed to analyse the distribution.
  • Finds densities are quoted in terms of finds per hectare for a 10% survey. An analysis of the results from fields that were walked at 20% showed that multiplying finds densities from a 10% survey by two to give an equivalent figure for a 20% survey produced spurious results. Internal and external comparisons can only be made with surveys that have been conducted following the same protocols.
  • Although the fieldwork and the analysis of the results were conducted entirely by amateurs the input of specialists in the various fields covered has been critical because it has reduced the potential for error in identification and dating of finds.
  • The structure of the database and its links to mapping software have been important in providing flexibility in the methodology followed in the analysis.

This project has shown that a 10% field walking survey can be very effective where large areas are to be covered. Projects that are concerned with a small area might need a different approach. It also shows that by using a 100-metre grid for distribution analysis it is possible in a 10% survey to locate well-defined sites for further enquiry for all periods from the Earlier Neolithic. It appears not to be so effective for the Mesolithic and earlier. The most surprising findings in the project have arisen out of the analysis of the distribution of the medieval and post medieval finds. These periods are often neglected in field walking projects, but it is considered that projects like this one can provide a very useful tool for gaining an understanding of land-use regimes in the medieval and later periods. Lastly, it became evident towards the end of the project that, although the material had been collected, insufficient effort had been put into identification of the 19th and 20th century ceramics.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER WORK

  1. The late Dr Roger Jacobi, in the individual season reports on the flints, has made several recommendations for detailed field walking in fields with interesting patterns of flints distribution.
    • Fields 9890, 9189, the northern part of 9392, 9375 and the southern part of 0179 all yielded Palaeolithic or suspected Palaeolithic finds and could be re-walked at 10 metres to seek clarification.
    • Small groups of possible Mesolithic finds were collected in fields 2383, 1593, 9278 and 9703, which could be further investigated with close grids laid around the areas where they were found.
    • The lake margin fields along the north eastern parish boundary all yield Mesolithic/Early Neolithic assemblages which should be investigated for indications of possible hunter-gatherer camp sites.
    • Fields 1583 and 0881 together have relatively high densities of total finds, but they cover all periods from the Earlier Neolithic to Bronze Age. These are problematical fields and could benefit from field walking on a close grid to try to throw some light on their complex prehistory.
  2. The most interesting area in the parish is around Lower Brackendale Farm. It is here that there are high concentrations of finds from the Earlier Neolithic through to the 16th century. A total resurvey of this area with excavations at suitable sites would be needed to seek information on Earlier Neolithic, Iron Age, Romano-British occupation, Anglo-Saxon through to medieval settlements. Field walking on a close grid, followed by geophysics and excavation would be needed. The crop marks should be targeted here.
  3. The second key area for an analysis of long-term occupation is Granby Lane in both fields 2491 and 2890. This area shows evidence of occupation from the Bronze Age through to the 14th century. The same approach as at Lower Brackendale Farm would be beneficial here.
  4. Saxondale roundabout shows evidence of occupation from the 13th century. Close grid field walking might reveal evidence of earlier occupation of this site.
  5. The double-ditched enclosure in Starnhill Farm would benefit from close grid field walking, geophysics and excavation.
  6. Both the Roman and Iron Age parts of the crop mark site on Parson’s Hill should be excavated to test the theory that one part is younger than the other.
  7. The postulated dump sites in the West Moor fields of Holme Farm could be excavated to test the theory that there are village dumps there and to find the lowest stratigraphical levels of the sites of the dumps.
  8. The main gap in knowledge of fabric chronologies is for the post medieval pottery. A detailed study of the fabrics comparing them with Ticknall fabrics, combined with an attempt to define a chronology for Ticknall would fill this gap.
  9. Most of the interesting areas in the parish are at the parish boundary. Adjacent fields outside to parish should be walked using the same protocol to see to what extent the areas of interest extend out of the parish.

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