Test Pit 25 - The Old Bell, 51 High Street

The Old Bell is a thatched house dating from the late seventeenth century.  It was a public house from at least 1726 to 1910.


The Results

The pottery from this pit included a range of medieval pottery from the 12th-14th centuries including Medieval Sandy Ware, Medieval Shelly Ware, Hedingham Ware, Mill Green Ware and a large quantity of Hertfordshire Greyware. Other types included Late Medieval Ware, Glazed Red Earthenware, Harlow Slipware, Staffordshire Slipware, English Stoneware and Manganese Ware all dating to the post-medieval period and a large collection of 140 Victorian-era sherds.

Other finds from this test pit included glass, nails, coal, fragments of clay pipe, fragments of oyster and mussel shell, slate, tile and brick. The faunal assemblage included bones of cow, sheep/goat, pig, rabbit and some other unidentifiable remains.

This test pit produced a wide range of pottery types, albeit mostly in relatively small numbers. These suggest that the site was first used in the High Medieval period and has been in continuous use ever since. It was one of seven pits to produce over 50 sherds of 12th-14th century pottery, indicating the intensity of deposition and activity at this time. Activity then dropped off during the late medieval period, most likely associated with the consequences of the Black Death, and continued at a lower level possibly corresponding to its use as fields or gardens in the post-medieval era. The very large quantity of Victorian pottery suggests dumping of household waste in the area around the test pit during this period. Located in the heart of the village, this test pit is a classic example of the history of the village over the last 1000 years.

For an overview of the site and finds, please click on the image of the exhibition poster which is the first image in the gallery below.

For detailed analysis of the finds, please see the results sheet for this pit, which is available as a download at the bottom of this page.

For reports and maps relating to all of the test pits, please see the documents available on our results page.


Site Diary

Day One

We prepared the site, and measured the pit. We started digging at about midday. Weather generally good. Removed turf and dug about 20cm of topsoil, finding a range of Victorian and other pottery, bone, glass, nails, etc. We then reached a layer that contained 20-30% chalk with about a 10cm thickness: could this have been an old barn floor, drive, etc.?

Day Two

Everyone enjoyed the day as each context produced a mixture of items. We all enjoyed taking part in the dig and having Cat [Ranson, the archaeologist] identify some of the things found. It was really good to meet up later with everyone from the other test pits and see the items they uncovered and hear about their experiences. All in all, a great two days: exhausting but we would do it all again! Thank you.


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