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TEST PITS

ARCHAEOLOGICAL TEST PITS IN BINGHAM

List of Test Pits

CB02, CB03 and CB04
ROBERT MILES JUNIOR SCHOOL

SUMMARY FOR THE THREE PITS

  • It is believed that there was a rectory on this site since the middle ages, but the location only of the Georgian rectory and its predecessor are known. This was built in the period 1764-1770 by the Rev. John Walter and was demolished in the early 1960s to make way for the Robert Miles Junior School.
  • The Rev Walter demolished the medieval rectory to make for his new one. Rubble that could have come from it has been found on site, but the location of the building has not been established. Apart from the layer of building rubble from this early rectory and the small amount of medieval pottery found, there is practically no information about times before the mid 17th century.
  • The three pits all indicate widespread ground disturbance as a result of the school building in the 1960s, but the history below this level differs in each pit. Together, however, they provide a window into the life of several rectors covering the period mid 17th to late 19th centuries.
  • The rectors who were in post during this period are:
     
    Samuel Brunsell STP 1662
    Henry Brunsell MA 1688
    William Browne MA 1708
    Henry Stanhope 1711
    John Walter MA 1764
    Robert Lowe MA 1810
    Robert Miles BA 1845
    Percy Howard Droosten MA 1884
     
  • In CB02 the topsoil abuts the edge of a track made using rubble from the Georgian rectory and burnt shale, which was probably laid when the school was being built in the early 1960s.
  • The whole succession below the topsoil and down to a rough stone floor at about 75 cm depth appears to be a deposit laid down at the time of the building of the rectory in 1764 to 1770, probably during landscaping at the end of the building phase. This soil deposit contains very little material that lies outside the date range mid/late 17th to mid/late 18th C suggesting that it was taken from immediately around the site of the rectory that was demolished to make way for the Georgian house.
  • The age of the stone floor is not clear from the test pit. No pottery was found underneath it to set a maximum age. Using clay pipe data and the wine bottle seal that is attributed to the Brunsell family the floor must have been laid either in or before the second half of the 17th century.
  • A post hole was encountered in this pit dug from the level of the stone floor. There is no indication of the age or the significance of the building represented by the post hole.
    The floor was laid on a deposit of sand that is probably glacial in origin. Full details of the story in this pit are contained in the account of the big dig done at the school in July 2013.
     
  • In CB03 the topsoil and underlying building rubble from the 1960s is thin.
  • A stone feature considered to be part of a garden design was encountered at about 67 cm depth. It consists of a narrow channel set into a stone surface. Beneath the topsoil and above the stone feature the soil is also likely to be either re-deposited or much worked during gardening after the feature was covered up possibly in the 19th C.
    The stone garden feature is made up of local stones and limestone roofing slate that could have been recycled from the pre-Georgian rectory. The limestone roofing slate was also found in CB02. Elsewhere it has been found on the site of the old manor house on the north side of Market Place and in two pits where it is associated with Roman pottery. In the medieval site it was present in a layer that could be dated to the early 15th C, so it is assumed that it was on the roof of the medieval manor house. Its presence here suggests that the old rectory was similarly roofed and that the slate became available when this building was demolished to make way for the new Georgian rectory. This, therefore, would date the feature in this pit to later than 1770. There is a possibility that the garden feature was built by the Reverend John Walter, who was rector from 1764 to 1810 and then covered up during the time of the Reverend Robert Miles, who was rector from 1845.
  • The soil beneath the garden feature is good-quality garden soil, about 30 cm thick and is devoid of any artefacts. It was probably shovelled there during the construction work for the garden feature. The garden feature is laid on a thin layer of red clay probably used as a foundation and sealant as it had been used under the medieval stone floor found at the manor house (CB01).
  • The natural deposit here is peaty and very likely marginal to the lake. The presence of 30 cm of soil on top of this deposit was probably required to raise the ground level of the garden in an area that may have been boggy or prone to flooding.
     
  •  The site for CB04 is separated from CB03 by an old yew hedge that may have been a traditional boundary within the grounds separating the formal gardens from field or paddock. CB04 is in the area of the paddock, but is now the school football field.
  • The topsoil is thin and there is a thin layer of small brick pieces at its base.
  • Evidence that there may have had a drainage problem is in the land drain found in the test pit. The drain appears to have been laid in a cut into the subsoil before 1826. There is no sign of the edges of the trench that it would have been laid in. The dating suggests that the drain may have been laid at the behest of Reverend Robert Lowe, who was rector from 1810 to 1845.
  • The deposit beneath the subsoil appears to consist of an upper layer of red-brown clay, which may have been re-deposited on top of brown lake clay. This site is 20-30 metres from the mapped edge of the lake deposit.

Click here for a detailed account of the three pits.

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