List of Test Pits

CB12, 13, 23 and 24

  • Four pits were dug on land adjacent to Foster’s Lane, all belonging to the owner of 87 Long Acre. Two of them were training pits, which were dug in 5 cm spits. These were converted into 10 cm spits for the database.
  • The history of the site is documented from 1586 to the present. In 1586 it was divided into two long plots that extended from East Street to Long Acre. The boundary between them coincided with the present day eastern boundary of No 87 Long Acre (Porchester House). This separation remained until after 1841 and the land around the pit sites was used only for agriculture. Porchester House was built on the western plot before 1776. Then in around 1850 the church school was built on land at the northern edge of the plot. The next building on it was the bungalow built near CB23 and 24 in the mid 20th C. The test pit sites on the eastern plot still remained under cultivation, though to the north and south of them buildings went up in the middle of the 20th C.
  • The pits tell a consistent story about the occupation and the way this land was used from the Roman to modern period.
  • Unusually, four worked flints were found here. They are likely to be Neolithic in date, but little else can be said about them. Much more extensive excavations would be necessary to establish if there was any settlement here.
  • A sherd of Iron Age pottery was found in one of the pits (CB12), but an Anglo-Saxon sherd in CB13 was found beneath the lowest Roman pottery and it is notoriously difficult to differentiate between Anglo-Saxon and Iron Age pottery. Though not at all plentiful it seems that there was an Iron Age presence here.
  • Roman pottery is more numerous than pottery of any other age in these pits. It is mostly Grey Ware, with little of any of the wares that indicate high status. The date range is poorly represented because so much of the Grey Ware cannot be dated precisely. However, there are fabrics for all periods from the 1st to late 4th C. There is not enough anywhere to show that one of the pits might have been sited close enough to a household to have been dug into the domestic rubbish, but the near ubiquity of the Roman sherds in the four pits suggests that a household may be nearby. As elsewhere, there are bones among the Roman sherds and some of them indicate butchery.
  • The single disputed Anglo-Saxon sherd is the only one found in these four pits. However, there is an assemblage spanning the Late Saxon, Saxo-Norman and early medieval periods in all the pits. This represents a date range of late 9th to mid 14th C. Although there are a few sherds of fabric types that continue beyond the mid 14th C all could legitimately be attributed to a period before then. It seems a reasonable conclusion that whatever activity took place here in this period it ended with the Black Death. In pit CB13, which had the highest number of medieval sherds, nearly all of them are 12th to13th C. In all pits Nottingham Splashed Ware is the most abundant type. This has a date range 12th to13th C. Thus, while this may be an artefact of the distribution, it may suggest that activity ended here even earlier than the middle of the 14th century.
  • A striking factor in the Late Saxon to medieval collection is the diversity of fabric types. Nineteen fabric types are represented. Many of these are Nottingham-made ware types, but others are not. Among them is St Neot’s Ware, which is near the northern limit of the trading area for this ware type. Others are from around Stamford, Lincoln, Torksey and near Corby. There are green glaze ware types that are not from Nottingham. This suggests that there were a number of different wares in use and that they were traded from afar. While most sherds are too small to give an idea of the original form jugs, jars, bowls and cooking pots were identified.
  • An overlap in the depth ranges for all the finds up to and including medieval suggests that the ground was turned over, probably during cultivation in the medieval period, but also in later, possibly 19th-20th C times This would certainly explain the eroded nature of many of the Roman and medieval finds.
  • Bones and teeth are present at all depths in these pits and it is assumed that many of them are contemporaneous with the accompanying pottery. The animals represented are pigs, sheep, cows, horses, chickens and cats. Most of the sheep bones are from mutton, only a few from high up in the pits are lamb. The number of cats found is surprising. Their bones were present in three of the pits. Many of the bones show signs of butchery, while some have been gnawed by rats.
  • The gap in the collections above mid 14th C is striking. There is no Cistercian Ware nor Midland Yellow Ware, nor any other early post-medieval material. One sherd of Midland Black Ware was found. This was in use in the late 16th and 17th centuries. The first significant addition to the collection comes with Mottled Ware, which was widely in use in the early 18th C. This suggests that there was a gap of around three and a half centuries during which this piece of land either was not in use or was used only for grazing. 
  • The finds recovered for the later periods makes little contribution to the history of the site. It is known that there was a house on the site of Porchester House, possibly from the late 18th C and anything found here that can be attributed to the 18th to 20th centuries is probably explained by this.

Click here for a detailed account of the pits

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