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TEST PITS

SUMMARY

In July 2013 a 4 x 7 metre exploratory excavation was carried out on the front lawn of Robert Miles Junior School to investigate findings revealed in a 1-metre test pit dug there in 2012. The test pit had shown a stone, rubble floor at about 75 cm depth and a post hole with the top level with the stone floor. The dig was carried out in one week. The topsoil was stripped mechanically to reveal a rubble road covering half of the pit. This was also removed mechanically. The rest of the excavation was dug by hand.

Robert Miles Junior School was built in the early 1960s on the site of a demolished rectory that had been built in 1770. There is documentary evidence from 1586 and 1776 of a rectory on this site, but there are no details of the earlier building.

The following sequence of events has been revealed:

  • Excavation of a sand pit in a deposit of glacial sand either in the medieval or post-medieval period.
  • The sand pit was filled with stone rubble in the last half of the 17th C. A layer of sand, lime mortar and small brick pieces was laid over it and a rough stone floor laid over this. The whole of the excavation is underlain by this floor, the function of which is not known. It is likely to be either a barn floor or a yard. No other post holes were found; thus the function of the building it supported is not known.
  • Building rubble found in the excavation suggests that there was a rectory on this site from the middle ages and that it was modernised at times afterwards.
  • This rectory was demolished between 1764 and 1770 when a new one was built and the area around was landscaped using the rubble and other material found near the new building. The whole of the sequence exposed in the pit between the stone floor and the topsoil is thought to have been laid down in a single event at this time.
  • The contained finds from this layer of subsoil gives information on the way of life of the residents of the rectory in the period 1667 to 1770.
  • Two hunting hounds, one with a puppy, were buried here at some time in the second half of the 18th century.
  • An area of the stone floor over the sand pit suffered subsidence when the stone rubble infill became compacted possibly during the second half of the 18th C.
  • A flagpole was erected on this site in the late 19th century.
  • The Georgian rectory was demolished in the early 1960s to make way for the modern school.
  • During the construction work an access road, exposed in this dig, was built from the original rectory gate on Church Street in the south western corner of the grounds to the building site using rubble from the demolished Georgian rectory. It was surfaced with burnt shale.
  • The topsoil taken from nearby was laid over the access road during landscaping on completion of the school building.


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