Histon and Impington Village Society Archaeology Group
Your committee are pleased to announce that, with others helping, we successfully completed TEST PIT ONE at School Hill, Histon on the weekend of 23/24 April 2016.
The weather was kind to us and our host Alan Eade had made very good preparations.
We marked out a 1 metre square on the lawn and carefully removed the turf. We then dug down 10cm at a time, sieved the soil from each level and washed the finds. We had to be prepared to go down as many levels as necessary until we met the undisturbed natural subsoil, to a maximum of 12 levels.
We were pleased that we had been given good advice. It definitely does take an hour to do each level – sieving can take longer than the digging, which can surprise people. We often had four people sieving and only one digging. So 12 hours actual working time with five and preferably six people working is what must be planned for – to include an hour to do the backfill and cleaning up. The site is on gravel soil and relatively easy to dig. In the parts of the villages where the lower levels of clay subsoil have been compacted hard over the centuries, we must be prepared to hack the soil out with pointed trowels and to break up the lumps by hand to look for the finds.
As you will see from the pictures, we found it a very sociable and collaborative activity with great excitement every time a new find was discovered.
So what did we find? The site is about 20m from the present course of the Brook. Initially there was lots of very fine soil with no finds. Then pieces of pretty Victorian china, some clay pipe and glazed pottery mixed with brick and coal. We soon came to small pieces of medieval unglazed pottery probably from the 12th to 15th centuries. Throughout the lower levels there were pieces of animal bone including teeth, boar’s “tusks” and a pig’s jawbone. We stopped digging when we met mainly stony gravel with no more finds.
The pottery will in due course be dated by experts and we should be able to put together a picture of the use of the site. Meanwhile we can envisage the pigs rootling in the Brook and the scattering of domestic rubbish before the site was levelled up for the building of the present house in the 19th century.
We are pleased with a very successful and enjoyable first outing and now look forward to similar success on the ten sites being considered for the weekend of 14/15 May. Our “people team” of Jane, Alison and Lynn are now approaching everyone who has volunteered to do anything to make sure we have the right combination of a suitable site, the right equipment and most importantly the helpers.
If you know of anyone else who would like to come and be involved, do please put them in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07539 222469. We are also planning to dig on 18/19 June, 16/17 July and 6/7 August.
David Oates 25th April 2016.