1993 Level III Report

Area 3

Abstract

The earliest identifiable activity in Area 3 is represented by a rectangular post-built hall with possible associated external structures. These features have been given a provisional Early or Middle Saxon date. At some stage, probably during the Late Saxon period, the hall was succeeded by a second building with post-in-trench construction, and an associated drainage system, with an external corn-drying oven.

Summary

At least one irregular feature cutting the chalk bedrock was filled with sterile orange-brown silty clay (I.1). It has been assigned to Period I, and is interpreted as a natural feature.

In Period II, a rectangular post-hole structure, Building 2, was constructed (II.1), presumed to be of Early or Middle Saxon date on morphological grounds. A substantial pit (II.2) may also belong to this phase. There were a large number of post-holes (II.3) associated with it, and a line of irregular pits (II.4) to the east. There was also a second group of post-holes (II.5) at the eastern side of the site. Towards the end of Period II Building 2 was demolished (II.6).

In Period III a corn-drying oven was constructed (III.1). An adjacent cut feature (III.2) may have been associated. A possible beam-slot building with an associated drainage ditch system (III.3) may also belong to this phase. A group of post-holes (III.4) may represent some internal structure. None of these features are securely dated but they are provisionally dated as Middle or Late Saxon on the basis of the few datable finds from the fills. Towards the end of Period III both the building and corn-drying oven were demolished (III.5)

Finally, Period IV saw the build up of ploughsoil (IV.2) across the site, including one episode of deep ploughing (IV.1).

Area 3: The Stratigraphic Sequence

Period I

I.1 Probable natural features

cut3164
fill3163

A number of irregular features cut the chalk bedrock. At least one (3164) is interpreted as a natural feature as it had a sterile orange brown clay fill (3163), and was cut by later features. Other features assigned to Periods II and III may also transpire to have been natural in origin but they are currently seen as archaeological, either because they contained finds, or because they appear to form a patterned distribution.

Period II

II.1 Construction of Building 2

3105 3107 3109 3111 3121 3123 3128 3165 3167 3169

A series of post-holes was cut into the natural chalk (3105, 3107, 3109, 3111, 3121, 3123, 3128, 3165, 3167, 3169). They ranged from 0.2 - 0.4m in diameter and 0.15 - 0.2m in depth. Several had vertical sides and flat bases. They formed a rough L-shape in the south-east corner of the excavation, which was extended southwards to follow their line. They are interpreted as representing the corner of a rectangular post-hole structure, Building 2, although the internal corner angle is less than 90 degrees, unless two post-holes (3107, 3123) are seen as being external to the main wall alignment. Building 2 would, in any case, have been aligned 10 degrees off a north-south orientation.

II.2 Major pit

3001 3026 3027 3040 3076 3103

A substantial irregular pit (3026) was cut into the natural chalk; its full plan was not recovered as it was situated against the western edge of the excavation. The base was gradually sloping with evidence of pitting; the edges were defined by a number of areas of weathered chalk, indicating that the bedrock had been exposed here for some length of time. The basal fill comprised a compacted layer of silty loam (3076), varying in depth from 0.1-0.15m. This was devoid of finds and may represent the product of weathering from the top and sides of the feature, with subsequent trampling and compaction in the base. This was overlain by an upper fill (3001/3027) of very clean orange brown loam, with much evidence of worm action. A number of animal bones lay within the upper 0.1m of this feature.

Along the eastern side of 3026 there was a roughly oval cut (3040), c.0.1m in depth, with a similar fill (3103); this appears to have been part of the same feature which had been separated from it by a later plough cut (IV.I: 3067).

These features are not securely dated but have been placed in Period 2 on the basis that the very clean fill is unlike that of the later cut features, and similar to that of the natural hollows.

II.3 Associated post-hole grouping

cut 3029 3031 3033 3035 3037 3039 3042 3044 3046 3048 3050 3052 3061 3063 3077 3079 3083 3089 3097
fill 3028 3030 3032 3034 3036 3038 3041 3043 3045 3047 3049 3051 3060 3062 3078 3080 3084 3090 3092 3098 3102

There was a significant number of small post-holes (3029, 3031, 3033, 3035, 3037, 3039, 3042, 3044, 3046, 3048, 3050, 3052, 3061, 3063) in the south-western corner of the site, although it was impossible to discern the outline of any coherent structure. The post-holes were generally straight-sided and 0.1-0.2m in depth; in many cases the upper edges comprised weathered chalk. They appear to have been associated with pit (II.2: 3026) although they had no direct stratigraphic relationship with it. The fills (3028, 3030, 3032, 3034, 3036, 3038, 3041, 3043, 3045, 3047, 3049, 3051, 3060, 3062) were generally orange brown clay loam with occasional chalk fragments. A sherd of pottery (sf93) was recovered from one of the fills (3028).

There was also a pair of post-holes (3077, 3079) on the northern edge of the pit. They were c.0.3-0.4m in diameter, and 0.25m in depth, and appeared to have been packed with large chalk fragments. They were filled with a dark brown silty loam with chalk fragments (3078, 3080). An oval cut (3083), 0.15m deep, with a similar fill (3084), also appears to have been associated, and may represent a third post-hole. There was an irregular cut (3089), 1.1m long x 0.4m wide x 0.25m deep, with rounded ends and a slot-shaped base, against the eastern edge of the pit (II.2: 3026). It had a basal fill of orange clay (3092), overlain by a friable orange brown silty loam with occasional chalk fragments (3090). A further irregular cut (3097) with steeply sloping sides was dug to the north of the main pit. It had a basal fill of friable orange brown silty clay with abundant chalk fragments (3102) and an upper fill of orange brown clay loam (3098). A sherd of grey ware was recovered from the upper fill.

II.4 Irregular cut grouping

cut30563065307130733075308230913093
fill30553064307030723074308130863085

There was an approximate north-south alignment of irregular pits (3056, 3075, 3082, 3093) to the east of the large pit (II.2) and its associated post-holes (II.3). They ranged between 0.6-2.1m in length and up to 1.1m wide, with an average depth of 0.2m. The base of several of these features comprised weathered pitted natural chalk. They were filled with a medium orange brown clay loam with abundant small chalk fragments (3055, 3074, 3081, 3085). The presence of small quantities of bone, pottery and other artefactual material suggests these are not natural features, but they are not easily interpretable. A iron staple (sf58) was recovered from one fill (3081).

There were a number of smaller irregular features (3065, 3071, 3073) which had similar fills (3064, 3070, 3072), and appear to have been associated. At least one of these (3065) may be a post-hole.

Further to the east, against the southern edge of the excavation, there was a roughly circular pit (3091), c.0.7-1.0m in diameter and 0.65m deep, filled with orange brown silty clay (3086).

All these features have been placed in Period II on the basis that their distinctive orange brown fills were unlike the mid- or dark-brown fills of the Period III features.

II.5 Eastern post-hole grouping

cut3119311331303132313431363139
fill3118311231293131313331353138

A group of possible post-holes was cut to the north of Building 2 (3113, 3119, 3130, 3132, 3134, 3136, 3139). They may have been part of some associated structure, although there was no evidence of a coherent plan. They were between 0.3-0.45m in diameter and c.0.15-0.2m in depth, with steeply sloping to vertical sides. They were filled with mid or dark brown clay loam with occasional small chalk fragments (3112, 3118, 3129, 3131, 3133, 3135, 3138). The presence of at least one bone fragment in the fill indicates that these were not natural features.

II.6 Destruction of Building 2

Towards the end of Period II Building 2 was abandoned; the evidence is insufficient to say whether it was deliberately demolished. The post-holes were backfilled with friable mid-brown silty clay with small stones and gravel (3104, 3108, 3110, 3120, 3122, 3127, 3166, 3168, 3170).

Period III

III.1 Construction of corn-drying oven

3104 3106 3108 3110 3120 3122 3127 3166 3168 3170
3023 3024 3025 3057 3058 3059

A complex feature forming a rough figure-of-eight was cut into the chalk bedrock. It comprised two circular hollows (3023-4), each c.1.2m in diameter, with sloping sides; that to the west (3023) was c.0.2m in depth, with a fairly flat base of burnt chalk. That to the east (3024) was c.0.4m deep; it had steeply sloping sides and a curved base. They were joined by a shallow gully, c.0.2m wide, sloping downwards to the east. The eastern hollow was cut by a substantial post-hole (3025), 0.3m in diameter by 0.2m deep, on its southern edge. Three further post-holes (3057-9) bordered the northern edge of the same hollow. One (3057) was substantial, 0.35m in diameter and 0.3m deep, and matched 3025. The other two (3058-9) were each 0.2m in diameter, by 0.1 - 0.15m deep.

This feature is interpreted as a corn-drying oven, with a shallow stoke-hole (3023) and a deeper oven (3024) which had been lined and covered by a clay structure supported by wooden posts (3025, 3057-9). Its date is uncertain; it may be Romano-British but an Anglo-Saxon interpretation is preferred on the basis of the finds in the backfill (III.5).

III.2 Miscellaneous cut feature

cut3021
fill3004

A shallow but regular cut, c.0.6m square was excavated adjacent to the corn-drying oven (III.1), but is undated and may not be contemporary or even associated. One deeper area may represent a possible post-hole, and there were traces of stone packing. The resulting hollow had been backfilled with a medium orange brown silty clay with abundant chalk inclusions (3004).

III.3 Possible beam slot structure, Building 3, and associated gullies

cut 3088309931163117 312431263141 3143 3144314531553157316231593161
fill3087310031153114 31563137312531403101314230943096 31543095 31583160

Three shallow but well-defined cuts (3116, 3143, 3145) formed a roughly rectangular outline, c.4 x 6m, towards the northern edge of Area 3. They were up to 0.15m deep, with fills (3096, 3101/3142, 3115) of friable mid-brown loam with occasional inclusions. A number of bone and shell fragments were recovered from the fills. They are interpreted as the foundation beam-slot trenches for a possible timber structure, Building 3. A circular post-hole (3161) with vertical sides, 0.3m in diameter and 0.3m deep, was exposed in the base of cut 3145. It had been filled with loose mid-brown silty clay loam (3160).

There were further cuts (3088, 3099, 3117, 3124, 3157, 3159, 3162) on the same alignment which were both deeper (up to 0.5m) and more irregular. These may represent drainage gullies or boundary ditches associated with the beam-slot structure, although there was a post-hole (3126) with a silty loam fill (3125), 0.2m in diameter x 0.25m deep, cut into the base of slot 3124. The gully fills (3087, 3095, 3100, 3114, 3137, 3156, 3158) were generally mid brown friable loam with few inclusions. They are comparable with those of the circular pit in Area 1 (III.4), but contained very few finds, although one fill (3100) contained several sherds of grey ware. There was also a shallow linear feature (3155), c.2.7m long by 0.5m wide and 0.08m deep, within the possible building. It had been backfilled with a mid brown loam (3154). Another shallow linear feature (3141/3144), 4.5m x 0.35-0.5m wide x 0.08m deep, continued to the east; it was also filled with mid brown loam (3094/3140).

III.4 Internal post-hole grouping

cut3146 314831503152
fill3147314931513153

There was a group of possible post-holes (3146, 3148, 3150, 3152) in the area defined by two of the east-west gullies. They were c.0.25-0.35m in diameter by 0.05-0.3m deep, although one was elongated with a shallow shelf in one direction. The fills (3147, 3149, 3151, 3153) were generally mid brown friable silty loam with common chalk fragments. They are interpreted as contemporary features associated with Building 3.

III.5 Destruction of corn-drying oven

3002

The corn-drying oven (III.1) was backfilled, possibly demolished. Both it and its associated post-holes were backfilled with a dark brown clay loam (3002). This contained a number of finds, probably of Anglo-Saxon date, including an iron awl (sf15), a possible wool/flax comb tooth (sf24), a sandstone hone fragment (sf17) and the base of a Romano-British coarse vessel (sf19).

Period IV

IV.1 Deep ploughing episode

cut 3006 3008 3010 3011 3013 3015 3017 3019 3054 3067 3069
fill 3005 3007 3009 3012 3014 3016 3018 3020 3053 3066 3068

A series of regularly-spaced shallow V-shaped grooves (3006, 3008, 3010-11, 3013, 3015, 3017, 3019, 3054, 3067, 3069) ran across the site, aligned north-north-west / south-south-east. The grooves were generally placed at intervals of 1.8m apart. They are interpreted as plough furrows related to a known episode of deep ploughing associated with potato planting in 1989. The fills (3005, 3007, 3009, 3012, 3014, 3016, 3018, 3020, 3053, 3066, 3068) were generally dark grey brown silty clay loam and indistinguishable from the overlying ploughsoil (IV.2: 3000), although where the grooves had cut through underlying features they incorporated fill from the surrounding matrix. A Northumbrian styca of Eanred, c.810-41, (sf1) was recovered from one of these fills (3012).

IV.2 General ploughsoil

3000 3003 3022

Finally, a general layer of dark grey brown clay loam, c.0.2 - 0.3m thick, (3000/3003/3022) overlay the whole trench. This layer represents ploughsoil, accumulated during the 20th century, but incorporating material disturbed from underlying features. It contained abundant chalk fragments of varying size which had probably been disturbed from the underlying chalk bedrock. A number of residual finds were recovered from the ploughsoil, including a coin or token (sf102), fragments of three iron pins (sfs86, 105, 113), a buckle fragment (sf111), a copper-alloy dress pin shank (sf14), part of a copper-alloy disc-headed pin (sf22), and a further fragment of copper-alloy (sf98), and one of lead-alloy (sf21).

Index

CONTEXT NO PHASING
3000 IV.2
3001 II.2
3002 III.5
3003 IV.2
3004 III.2
3005 IV.1
3006 IV.1
3007 IV.1
3008 IV.1
3009 IV.1
3010 IV.1
3011 IV.1
3012 IV.1
3013 IV.1
3014 IV.1
3015 IV.1
3016 IV.1
3017 IV.1
3018 IV.1
3019 IV.1
3020 IV.1
3021 III.2
3022 IV.2
3023 III.1
3024 III.1
3025 III.1
3026 II.2
3027 II.2
3028 II.3
3029 II.3
3030 II.3
3031 II.3
3032 II.3
3033 II.3
3034 II.3
3035 II.3
3036 II.3
3037 II.3
3038 II.3
3039 II.3
3040 II.2
3041 II.3
3042 II.3
3043 II.3
3044 II.3
3045 II.3
3046 II.3
3047 II.3
3048 II.3
3049 II.3
3050 II.3
3051 II.3
3052 II.3
3053 IV.1
3054 IV.1
3055 II.4
3056 II.4
3057 III.1
3058 III.1
3059 III.1
3060 II.3
3061 II.3
3062 II.3
3063 II.3
3064 II.4
3065 II.4
3066 IV.1
3067 IV.1
3068 IV.1
3069 IV.1
3070 II.4
3071 II.4
3072 II.4
3073 II.4
3074 II.4
3075 II.4
3076 II.2
3077 II.3
3078 II.3
3079 II.3
3080 II.3
3081 II.4
3082 II.4
3083 II.3
3084 II.3
3085 II.4
CONTEXT NO PHASING
3086 II.4
3087 III.3
3088 III.3
3089 II.3
3090 II.3
3091 II.4
3092 II.3
3093 II.4
3094 III.3
3095 III.3
3096 III.3
3097 II.3
3098 II.3
3099 III.3
3100 III.3
3101 III.3
3102 II.3
3103 II.2
3104 II.6
3105 II.1
3106 II.6
3107 II.1
3108 II.6
3109 II.1
3110 II.6
3111 II.1
3112 II.5
3113 II.5
3114 III.3
3115 III.3
3116 III.3
3117 III.3
3118 II.5
3119 II.5
3120 II.6
3121 II.1
3122 II.6
3123 II.1
3124 III.3
3125 III.3
3126 III.3
3127 II.6
3128 II.1
3129 II.5
3130 II.5
3131 II.5
3132 II.5
3133 II.5
3134 II.5
3135 II.5
3136 II.5
3137 III.3
3138 II.5
3139 II.5
3140 III.3
3141 III.3
3142 III.3
3143 III.3
3144 III.3
3145 III.3
3146 III.4
3147 III.4
3148 III.4
3149 III.4
3150 III.4
3151 III.4
3152 III.4
3153 III.4
3154 III.3
3155 III.3
3156 III.3
3157 III.3
3158 III.3
3159 III.3
3160 III.3
3161 III.3
3162 III.3
3163 I.1
3164 I.1
3165 II.1
3166 II.6
3167 II.1
3168 II.6
3169 II.1
3170 II.6