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FIELD WALKING

DESCRIPTION OF FINDS

MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS

A large amount of miscellaneous material was picked up during field walking, but little of it has been studied in detail. A small amount was recovered with a metal detector. The material arrived in the field in four main ways:

Farmyard manure
Night soil
Site of old buildings
Various other events

It has been possible to establish an assemblage of finds that it is thought is indicative of night soil and this has been used to study nineteenth century land use patterns. The main items in the assemblage are domestic pottery including china, earthenware and stoneware, broken glass, clay pipes, cinders/slag, coal, shells, bones and teeth, slate pencils, broken toys and various household objects. These same objects may also be present in farmyard manure, but in lower concentrations and with a high association of 19th century dairy earthenware.

Building materials

These include brick, roof and floor tiles, slate, plaster, concrete, mortar, asbestos, chimney pot and drains.

Small pieces of brick are ubiquitous, but there are several concentrations of large pieces and whole bricks that mark the sites of now demolished houses and farm buildings. Most pieces are too small too carry any marks that may distinguish a maker. Those that do have distinguishing marks have not been investigated. Types of brick that have been recognised include common building brick, usually locally made, vitrified brick, burnt hearth brick, flue brick and blue diamond-patterned yard brick. A piece of a hand-made brick with a thumb print is possibly 18th century. Several pieces were collected that have been identified as Roman, including a possible piece of a hypocaust “tile”. Others are possibly medieval.

Unglazed roof and floor tiles are nearly as common as brick. The roof tiles are either flat or curved pan tile. The latter are very common. Fragments of Roman earthenware tiles were found near Margidunum. A glazed medieval ridge tile and another flat, possibly roof tile were found and black glazed tiles, possibly post medieval, have also been recovered. It is difficult to distinguish between small pieces of flat roof tiles and some floor tiles, particularly those that resemble quarry tiles. Other types of tile, painted, ribbed or with raised patterns, may be floor or wall tiles. Pieces of Victorian glazed decorative tiles, possibly from Jackfield have been found as well as encaustic Minton floor tiles. Some distinctly modern glazed wall tiles have been collected.

Slate is widespread. It is mostly Welsh slate and would not have been used as a roofing material in the area until after the arrival of the railway in 1851. Some pieces of Swithland slate may be earlier than that. One such piece was found near Margidunum and might have been used on a Roman roof.

Other building material found includes salt-glazed drain pipe, earthenware land drain, pieces of chimney pot, concrete, asbestos, mortar and plaster, one piece of which from near Margidunum has the remains of paint on it and may be Roman.

Shells

Nearly 400 shells were collected. Almost all of them are oyster shell. They are usually white and probably not older than 18th century. Oysters, either pickled or raw, were a favoured eighteenth and nineteenth century food and were affordable by the poor. They could be transported live in barrels and kept for up to three weeks, which means that they could have been carried live up the river Trent before 1851 and by rail from the coast after 1851. The trade in oysters was huge in the 19th century, but took a serious knock in 1902 when many people contracted typhoid and the Dean of Winchester died after eating oysters at a banquet in Emsworth, near Chichester. This, combined with serious depletion of the oyster beds around our coasts, rapidly finished the industry off. Besides oysters one or two cockle and mussel shells were collected.

Metal objects

The majority of the metal objects found are agricultural in origin and probably not much earlier than 20th century. Some tools were collected including a spanner, a pair of secateurs, a knife blade and pliers. The rest include machine parts, gate hinges and brackets, bolts, nuts, square sectioned, round and oval nails, hooks, chains, rivets, washers, cogs, screws, pieces of wire, a fork tine, plough parts, horse brasses and horse shoes. A brass buckle might be part of a horse harness, while a rusted piece of iron is possibly a rider’s spur, possibly 17th to 18th century.

Domestic items include buttons, an ornamental leaf, metal tags, a picture hook, belt buckles, broken plated spoon handle, brass letters, drawing pins, a wind-up key for a toy, bottle tops, a broken dinner fork, a railing spike and house guttering. Among the many plain buttons are some with design motifs. One is marked Alexander of Nottingham, who sold working men’s clothing, another has a maple leaf motif and one has a dog’s head design. A spoon bowl is possibly 17th to early 18th century.

Some lead was recovered. Included are bits of lead pipe, small discs, weights, a plumb bob, loom weights and two lumps of palletised lead, which it is thought might have been brought to Bingham in the 19th and early 20th centuries by tinkers who repaired metal pans with lead or possibly by plumbers.

One part of a brass shell case was found.

Coins

A number of dated and some very eroded coins were collected. They are:

Elizabeth I silver 6d, 1562
William III silver 6d, 1696
George II ½ d, c.1730
George II ½ d, 1740-1754
George III ½ d, 1760
George III 1d, 1802
George III ½ d, probably 1807
2 x George IV ½d, undated, 1820-1830
Victoria bun 1d, 1888
2 x George V ½ d 1915, 1924
2 x George V 1d 1918, 1919
Elizabeth II 3d very corroded and not dated.

A copper Bishop Blaze ½ d token, minted by Associated Irish Miners Arms of Cronebane in 1789.

Several copper discs were found that are too eroded to identify, but are the size of coins.

Ceramic objects

A large number of parts of small dolls were found. They are mostly limbs – legs and arms, but there were eyes, heads and torsos. There are also items of furniture for doll’s houses.

Other ceramic objects include light pulls, bits of fuse boxes, spools, wheels and insulators, including one that is certainly 19thC, door handles, small ceramic balls, possibly for bottle tops, fives stones and a pot egg. Included here also are clay pigeons, fragments of which were found in many fields.

Most of these objects are late 19th or 20th century in origin. Several wig curlers made from pipe clay were found and probably date to the 18th century.

Bones and teeth

Bones and teeth from a range of animals were collected and identified by Elaine Parker. The full list includes cow, horse, sheep, pig, human, dog, cat, chicken and an unidentified small mammal. The first five of these are the commonest and their relative proportions are shown in table 2.8.

Table 2.8 Relative proportions of bones and teeth for the main species collected.

 
Teeth
Bones
 
No
%
No
%
Cow
26
19
18
7
Horse
26
19
4
2
Sheep
43
32
132
54
Pig
39
29
79
33
Human
2
1
10
4
Totals
136
100
243
100

There were no funds in the budget to analyse the bones and teeth for age and though one or two are clearly modern, no firm dates could be attributed to any of the others. Most of them are well worn and eroded and none could be articulated.

Human
Most of the pieces of human bone were very small and their identification is not firm. Some were found in the fields postulated to be the site of the village dump from the late 17th to 19th century. One piece of cremated bone (29448) from field 9912 adjacent to the Margidunum roundabout, is possibly human. Two others pieces (29371 and 29373) from this same field are from an inhumation. The human teeth were not found associated with any human bones.

Farm animals
The most abundant bones and teeth are from sheep, with pigs next (Table 2.8). Several showed evidence of butchery. Cut marks were seen on pig (35472) and sheep (49092) bones, while sheep (49053, 49086) and pig (49083) leg bones had been split to extract marrow. A cow rib bone (49093) and a sheep leg bone (52727) had been snapped, possibly during butchering. Rodent tooth marks were observed on one end of a cow leg bone (49080). The condition of many bones found, however, was not good enough either to identify the part or for subtle signs of butchery to be preserved and it is not possible to say whether they were from butchered meat or carcasses left in the field. However, where the part could be identified the overwhelming majority of leg and rib bones over other parts of the body suggests that butchery was the most likely source of the bones. One small piece of cow horn was found (49039). While most of the sheep bones appeared to be from adult animals, one bone (29458) was from a lamb.

Other teeth and bones
Included among these are a chicken wishbone, a cat’s rib bone and jaw with a tooth, a femur from a small mammal and teeth from cats and dogs.

Other items

Several sharpening stones were collected. They varied in size, shape and material. One rectangular sectioned stone, well worn and broken at one end, is quartz schist and likely to be medieval. Among the others are 19th century or more modern types made from sandstone. One is carborundum.

There are many buttons made of glass, bone, horn, jet, mother of pearl, white shirt buttons and one pewter dress uniform button from 18th to early 19th century.

Beads are made of jet, glass and ceramics.

A stone from a signet ring that had been used a seal was found. The seal, a phoenix rising from a turret, is very like one to be found in a collection of wax seals in Calke Abbey where it is ascribed to G. Clarke Esq. and is probably a 19th seal.

In many fields, bits of coal, cinders, slag and clinker were picked up. Some probably originated in domestic fireplaces, but there is the possibility that some came from steam ploughs presumed to have been used in the local farms up to the Second World War. Some of the finds are associated with the two railway lines that cross the parish. Other slag looks metallic in origin though no other evidence of foundry work has been found. There was a particularly high concentration of this type of material in field 1308 on Parson’s Hill near the Iron Age settlement. This material has some resemblance to the crushed slag used as a filler in some types of Iron Age pottery, an example of which was found on Parson’s Hill.

A large range of miscellaneous items includes a rubber bung, bone knife handle, a plastic fly, glass marbles, a clock face, toothbrush, bakelite pipe stem, comb, thimble, jet brooch stone, glass ring stone, pencil lead, Erasmus shaving stick handle, part of a vanity case mirror, a fragment of a gramophone record, plastic ball from a child’s game, artist’s charcoal sticks, plastic toys, part of a Wolseley car gear stick and screw bottle tops. There are many of these and some of them have trade names on them. Nearly all of these items can be attributed to the 20th century.

Several fragments of slate with a squared graticule were found. These appear to be parts of school slates. Slate pencils are not uncommon. Both of these could be 19th or early 20th century in origin.

Pieces of basalt are thought to be part of quern stones and it is possible that they are Roman.


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