Rectory (Area 1 Phase 1)

This site log archive covers the period from when we first started at the Rectory in April 2008 to July 2011 when we completed the Phase 1 of investigations here. The aim was to see if we could find evidence of the old Frog Lane, which we assumed had been covered over when the grounds were extended in 1875 (when the present hall was built). The results were quite surprising and far more complicated than we had expected.
We started again in this area in March 2012 which we are referring to as Phase 2. This time the aim was to answer some unanswered questions and see if we could detect evidence of a Medieval moat (you can follow the progress of this phase here ).
Date: July 01, 2011 07:50PM

Embedded in the cobble surface layer, amongst the 17th/18th century pottery, is this piece of burnt bone (we think it’s probably from a cow). Having cleaned out the area where the water feature was, it looks likely that we won’t be able to determine the extent of the road on the north side – as it looks like it’s been truncated (once again) by another trench.

Date: June 30, 2011 09:57PM
The outside of the cast iron ‘bell’ has given us no clue as to its function –  although we suspect that it was broken before it was inserted in the ground as there was no sign of any rust or broken of pieces in the bottom of the trench.

Date: June 05, 2011 09:27PM
With the cast iron ‘bell’ removed it was obvious (as predicted) the pit dirt track continues on the other sire of the deep trench (though not sure how far yet). What we did not expect though was another cobbled surface. It seems quite irregular and compacted with brick – the pottery coming off the surface is ‘Buckley Ware’ and Midland Purple, which suggests a 17th/18th century date (again, at this stage we don’t know how far it extends).

Date: June 05, 2011 09:13PM
We finally took the decision to remove the water feature at the north end of Trench 1. This was mainly to confirm for us that the dirt track continues on the other side of the deep trench. It would also give us a chance to see if there are any markings on the out side of the cast iron feature. After removing the stone sets and top layers, it looks like we could well have the dirt track and underlying sand. We could see also that this has been cut through to make room for the cast iron feature – which was back-filled with clay when it was installed.

Date: April 11, 2011 10:28PM
Increased depth of test pit 8 by another half metre or so – cutting though gritty dirt layer (which is quite thin). Revealed deep sand underneath. On north side, sand is cut through by rubble filled trench (smaller feature on south side). Test pit is now too difficult to continue with but proves that dirt track does exist this far north.

Date: April 11, 2011 10:17PM
On reaching bottom of context 45 we came across marble colouring with iron flecks in it (look like vertical nails) and one large horizontal nail (well, what was left of it).

Date: April 11, 2011 09:40PM
Returned to Area 1 after long winter break. Needed to deepen trench 1 at this point so that we could finish off drawing the section (although not easy with no clear edge and maybe signs of a re-cut).

Date: November 10, 2010 07:19PM
Interesting finds. I hope to be there Sunday.
Date: November 08, 2010 10:12PM
Meanwhile at the interface between the dirt track and concrete there appears to be a rusted piece of iron embedded in the concrete (we thought maybe it was the other end of the iron pipe found in trench one but it doesn’t go any further than the interface).

Date: November 08, 2010 10:04PM
This week we cut deeper into test pit 8 and realised it wasn’t the dirt track we found last week – just an isolated band of black grit. The actual track seems to be another 15cm lower down. It also looks like we have the northern edge of the dirt track.

Date: October 26, 2010 09:22PM
The north side of the deep trench shows a nice sequence of archaeology as it’s shown cutting through various layers including the natural clay (nicely cleaned by Carlotta who, at one point, I thought had gone home – as she couldn’t be seen working at the bottom of the trench).

Date: October 25, 2010 11:28PM
Actually it turns we haven’t reached the bottom of the deep trench (last week Dave has found a nice little pipe bowl near the bottom) but we’re getting close (and to the limit of our licence) – as it does seem to be narrowing. However its getting difficult to continue and also as you can see the weather is taking its toll (it’s so frustrating not knowing its purpose).

Date: October 25, 2010 11:17PM
And it seems that we now have evidence that the dirt track continued on the other side of the deep trench. At a depth of about a meter, test pit 8 has revealed something like the gritty surface of the dirt track (although again it’s not well defined). It lies under a thin layer of building rubble under deep layer of black soil which I imagine relates to the building of the new hall in 1875 (when the road was buried). This lies under an even deeper layer of lighter soil which must come from the terracing when the supposed tennis courts were built.

Date: October 25, 2010 10:56PM
We’ve now also cut through to the natural clay under the dirt track on the south side (not very deep). The trench cutting through it for the iron pipe is quite visible but still can’t see where this cuts through the dirt track (suggesting that it’s older).

Date: October 12, 2010 11:34PM
In the meantime we’ve eventually managed to locate the point where the dirt track turns into the concrete base (about 1 metre east of our main trench). However there seems to have been some damage – the concrete is cut away just before the join (not obvious why).

Date: October 12, 2010 11:20PM
Despite having to be constantly pumping out the trenches, it looks like we’ve reached the bottom of the of the cut through the dirt track (but still no reason why it was dug). We’re also still not fully sure that the track continued on the north side of the cut. We’ve therefore decided to open up another trench beyond the tree on the west side of our trench (we’re into the embankment here but it’s the only available spot).

Date: August 23, 2010 10:26PM
It’s gradually dawning on us that the natural geology in this area is pure clay (we’ve found it in all three trenches now). This section shows this clay on the right with the dark sediment filling a trench cut into it. The dark sediment seems to be made up of 2 parts, on the left being soft semi-organic material – but between this and the clay the material is slightly lighter, more clayey and has many flecks of charcoal in it (and the odd piece of brick).
Date: August 23, 2010 09:38PM
Another issue is the extent of the dark sedimentary layer lying under the sand (road foundation). Mark T’s efforts have eventually paid off as you can see in this well presented section through the road.

Date: August 23, 2010 08:59PM
Back on site after a 2 week break with more bailing required before we can start. A priority for us is to see if the termination of the dirt track is indeed cause by a trench cutting through it with the track continuing on the other side (as suggested by the layers revealed under the water feature). We therefore cut a trench to the east of the water feature. Once again the sand layer is revealed lying underneath a black gritty layer (which we presume represent the dirt track). If you look closely you can just make out the north edge of the trench cutting through the track layers .

Date: July 26, 2010 10:21PM
We also started to extend trench 1 eastwards to see if we can find where the change to concrete occurs (which coring suggested is close) but still no sign.

Date: July 26, 2010 10:11PM
After our long dry spell a week of torrential downpours has left our trenches in a sorry state. But at last we got to use our water pump which proved very successful – clearing the trenches in no time at all. The sand and clay in the south part of trench 1 has all turned to mush and our lovely section here has all but disappeared. The section in the north part however has fared much better – just needing a spring clean.  As you can see we’ve taken a cut right across the dirt track (road) revealing that the soft sand stops about 1.5m short of the other side. From here the underlying surface his hard (compacted) brown gritty dirt. Through this you can just about make out the cut for the trench that contains the iron pipe.

Date: July 13, 2010 08:51PM

Meanwhile in trench 2 it looks like we’ve reached the bottom (natural) without coming across any features (a core produced the same on the other side at the same depth). After taking heights we’ve now shut this trench down. Bill

Date: July 13, 2010 08:41PM
It looks like Norman could be right about the local narrowing of the road at this point but not because of the water feature. As you can see extending the sondage on the north side has revealed a couple of significant features. First of all we have uncovered yet another pipe – this time an intact field drain. However if you look carefully under stone sets surrounding the water feature you can see can see a section of the gritty dirt layer lying on top of the sand layer just like the road section. This may prove that the road was originally much wider and was cut through by the trench for the field drain. If a section of dirt track survives under the stone sets it means that the water feature was a separate development inserted at a later date. It’s not clear why the field drain trench is so wide – maybe there are two phases as there seems to be a diagonal line separating fill with building rubble in it with fill with just clayey soil in it.

Date: July 09, 2010 09:12PM
Thursday last we were visited by Norman Redhead and Ian Miller. Both were impressed by our efforts and the significant finds we have made. Ian was convinced that the dirt track is the old Frog Lane we have been looking for (paving with stone sets apparently only came in after the late 1860’s). Norman thought the reason for the narrowness of the road at this point was be due to the insertion of the water feature (which still eludes explanation). Ian also confirmed that the pottery piece retrieved from the lowest level under the road was Tudor in date (possibly late 16th or early 17th century). A good portion of the pottery I showed him he said dated to the 17th and 18th centuries – one particular piece (midland yellow) he said was a ‘second’ which was significant because it suggested that this type of pottery was being manufactured locally (this was the first evidence he had seen for pottery of this period). What got him really excited however was a small piece which he positively identified as Medieval (perhaps 12th century). Unfortunately it was found in an unstratified context so was not diagnostic but he though it was encouraging for the potential of the site. Norman ended by suggesting we need to cut a deep section right across the  road (only then would we get the full story) – also he would like to see another trench nearer the original gates to investigate the boundary between the hall and the road. We finished the meeting with a tour of the grounds with Norman suggesting sites for more trenches round the back of the Hall (his theory is that the original main entrance was from the Parsons Walk side). All in all it was a very encouraging meeting and I think we have been able to demonstrate quite handsomely our capabilities in the field. Bill
Date: June 21, 2010 10:08PM
Meanwhile things are getting complicated in the sondage in trench 1 north-side of the cart track. Underneath the sand layer (which is actually quite soft in places) there is a compacted brown gritty layer – but surprisingly under that is a soft dark brown sedimentary layer which produced a nice piece of pottery (bottom of a jug with a hole in it). The layer has a distinctive rotting smell suggesting water-logging.

Date: June 06, 2010 11:18PM
In trench 3 there just seems to be more soft clay fill in the bottom of the trench – but at least the brick feature on the south side has turned out to be a lot more substantial (maybe the base of a low garden wall).

Date: June 06, 2010 11:12PM
Meanwhile on the south side of the track the pit discovered last month – cut into the sandy clayey base of the track, turns out to be a trench cut into the natural to take a metal pipe about 11cm dia. (?drain, ?mains)

Date: June 06, 2010 10:53PM
After this Sunday’s activities things are getting more complicated. On the north side of the cart track, the compacted orange sand forming the base seems to be sitting on a darker brown layer which is anything but natural.

Date: May 25, 2010 11:27PM
Last Sunday Chris Healy (a real archaeologist) came to visit and was impressed by our efforts. He was just as perplexed as we were about our findings, particularly the water feature (although he did think it may have had a mechanical function). The structure of the dirt track is becoming much clearer now (as can be seen in this section through its southern edge).  It lies on top of compacted sandy clay with a deep gully running down its edge (repeated on the other side). This sandy clay seems natural but not altogether as there is at least a pit cut into it which has been filled with thick clay.

Date: May 17, 2010 10:21PM
Trench 3 looking south shows more clearly a row of bricks near the surface. This is probably the edge of a garden feature which is shown in this area on later maps.

Date: May 17, 2010 09:57PM
OK we’ve opened up Test Pit 6 a bit more and also renamed it Trench 3. The loose clayey soil has been removed to reveal a compacted gritty soily clay bank across the top left corner. It also reveals a mound of pinkish fine ash which seems to be running under the hard surface. The hollow under the hard surface turns out to be just subsidence (it looks like an attempt to support the track or road over a particularly soft area). Bill

Date: May 04, 2010 07:30PM
However somethings are less clear. We opened Test Pit 6 to prove that the cart track follows the line of old Frog Lane (as shown on the 1849 OS map). The hard surface shown top right does tend to prove this theory but it isn’t of the same construction (it does seem that every trench we open reveals something completely new). The other remarkable thing is that the hard surface (constructed of mortared  stone and some brick) is hollow underneath, almost like a bridge (over what though? – theories abound).

Date: May 04, 2010 07:15PM
After our Bank Holiday session somethings are becoming slightly clearer. This ‘sondage’ cut into the dirt cart track shows that a sandy clay layer forms its base (similar to the south side only more orange).  Also the compacted brick and mortar layer is lying on top of a compacted clay-soil mix which is also similar to the other side.

Date: April 19, 2010 08:38PM
Finally, opening up test pit 1 into trench 2, has revealed nothing much – apart from our first coin (found last week by Carlotta at about 15cm down – a 1988 pound coin) and loads of Victorian pottery and broken clay pipe stems (and the occasional bowl).

Date: April 19, 2010 08:27PM
Meanwhile trench 1 is has turned up another surprise – taking down the area to the south of the cart track (view looking east), this strange squared-off block of light sandy clay has appeared. Looking at the light coloured sandy clay lying under the cart track track, it appears very compacted – and, apart from material from the surface, is quite clean, which suggests it could be the natural. If this is right then the dark soft sandy clay to the south of the track represents a deep cut (probing proves it’s quite deep). Could we be looking at the the filled-in moat? – (mmm! just a theory – and doesn’t explain the squared-off block of clay).
Date: April 19, 2010 07:56PM
Another good session on Sunday – (Dave, Chris, Kat, Ken and myself – and Mark Tildesley for the first time in a while). In an attempt to prove that the cart track is (or isn’t) the old Frog Lane, we’ve opened Test Pit 6. This will hopefully tell us if the track follows the same curve as Frog Lane – as shown on the 1847 OS map. Straight away we hit the cinder layer which covered most of trench 1 (there is also a patch of tarmac which probing tells us extends for more than a metre to the left.

Date: April 12, 2010 10:26PM
The number of site volunteers for the Rectory is steadily rising. Sessions in March included (in addition to the usual 4 – Chris Moore, Dave Kelly, Eric and myself) – Kat Heaton (post-grad from Leicester Uni) and Matt (the hat) Budweiser (from Winstanley college). Then, before Easter, Ken Scally came for a short spell and Chris Dugdill (who’s yet to join). Then last Sunday Carlotta Barbieri joined us for a full day’s session. The site is progressing nicely but not necessarily solving problems, i.e. the black hard surface (partly covered by the path) is obviously a cart track but is it the old Frog Lane? (it doesn’t seem wide enough). If not, then when and why was it constructed? What was the purpose of the the water feature? and is it associated with the cart track? The ground in between is compacted and is founded on crushed brick and mortar rubble. Could this be part of the road which was widened at some date? – suggestions are very welcome. Bill

Date: March 16, 2010 11:47PM
Section showing southern edge of dirt track as it interfaces with the sandy clay layer. The dirt track is actually lying on top of a sandy clay layer – not necessarily the same as the sandy clay layer beyond its southern edge (things are getting complicated).

Date: March 16, 2010 12:03AM
The collection of stones on the north (right hand) side of the trench turns out to be some kind of cast iron water feature – I don’t think it’s a drain as the hole in the bottom doesn’t go anywhere – and there is a small cast iron pipe feeding it (bottom of picture).

Date: February 15, 2010 12:01AM
Resumption of work at the Rectory has revealed a dark gritty surface beneath the garden path – the best description of it is pit dirt. It dips away on the north side of the path running underneath the large stone blocks. On the south side it forms an edge with clay-soil running parallel with the path. At this stage it appears to be another path or track (but surely not Frog Lane itself which we expect to be much wider and more substantial). Maybe it’s the original path created when the grounds were extended with the smaller path being put in later. Bill

Date: November 27, 2009 03:28PM
Large stone blocks are begining to appear underneath the path on the north side – but these are not associated with the stone blocks already uncovered on the north side of the path which are on a different alignment.

Date: November 27, 2009 03:23PM
The path seems to have a demarkation line of sand on the south side but not on the north side

Date: November 27, 2009 03:20PM
The following Sunday 4 students from the college came down to do some more excavating.

Date: November 19, 2009 06:45AM
An update on the Rectory. After the students left on Tuesday (1220) Bill and I stayed on to continue the excavation of the pebbled path feature which the students had begun.  The actual pebble surface proved to be very well cemented and relatively difficult to break up with trowels. A spade and Spanish hoe were used.  This peble layer was about 5cm in depth.  Immediately below the pebbles was a foundation layer composed of broken bricks and angular sandstone pieces, some up to 25cm in length and the layer about 20 cm in depth.  The whole structure was slightly cambered.  Below the foundation layer we encountered an orange brown clayey sand where we stopped excavating. For a garden path this construction is quite remarkable.  A lot of materials and manpower had gone into it and hints at a high expense.  Whether the Rector himself or the Church paid for it is uncertain. Eric
Date: November 18, 2009 08:10PM
The visit of 20 students and 2 staff from Winstanley College took place yesterday.  We were blessed with glorious weather for the time of year and the visit passed without a hitch.  We were able to run all the planned activities and the visitors appeared to show a genuine interest. Eric
Date: November 15, 2009 06:56AM
On Tuesday 17th November a group of students and two staff will spend the morning from 9.15 at the site.  If sufficient members are able to attend the students will take part in excavating, resistivity and pseudo-sectioning, surveying and metal detecting.  If we can put on a good show perhaps we might even get some new members. Eric
Date: October 13, 2009 09:57PM
However the cinders are turning up everywhere we dig and it’s so soft and friable in some areas its difficult to excavate without destroying it – and I can’t imagine it as the surface of a path – more like it’s been dumped (large stones appearing in it tend to confirm this).
Date: October 13, 2009 09:49PM
Our first thought about the cinder surface was that it was a later extension to the path which appears on later maps (shown accessing the back entrance to the gatehouse).

Date: September 28, 2009 11:24PM
The edge of the gravel must be close as it was undetected in test-pit 4.

Date: September 28, 2009 11:20PM
Expanding test-pit 3 into test-pit 2 proves that the cinders overlie the gravel surface (we must have missed it when when digging test-pit 2). Expanding test-pit 2 northwards shows gravel continues under embankment.

Date: September 28, 2009 11:10PM
Three new volunteers this week – from left to right: Me, Chris, Dave, Kieran and Eric.

Date: September 21, 2009 09:03PM
Area 1 looking south (test pit 5 furthest away – test pit 1 out of shot)

Date: September 21, 2009 08:56PM
Test Pit 4 – no path this time  – stones, though, at a lower level (may be associated with Old Frog Lane).

Date: September 21, 2009 08:52PM
Test Pit 3 – cinder surface with square-like cut  feature

Date: September 13, 2009 10:38PM
Test Pit 2 on line of Pseudo-section at 12/13m position – looking North. Compacted gravel surface (if we were after the Roman road this would be just what we would b looking for – unfortunately we’re looking for old Frog Lane – and this is more likely to be the path put down over the road after the landscaping – when the hall was rebuilt in 1875).

Date: September 13, 2009 10:25PM
Test Pit 1 on line of Pseudo-section at 2/3m position – looking North (could be remains of ornamental garden).

Date: August 18, 2009 05:36PM
This is our first Pseudo-section – taken across two 5m diagonals  (starting from bottom left grid intersection shown on our resistivity survey, towards the top right of our survey). It’s quite a dramatic plot – but again it’s not what we were expecting. The purple on the left is indicating high res whereas where the road should be on the right there is lots of blue, indicating low res (of course there is the possibility that what we’re seeing is the moat lying under the road).

Date: August 15, 2009 08:22PM
Result from Resistivity Survey of Site 1 – not quite what we were expecting (in fact almost exactly opposite – the white bits by the way are inaccessible areas of undergrowth). The dark areas (low resistivity) indicate depressions in the subsoil – maybe the road has been robbed out (will attempt a pseudo-section next). Bill

Date: August 02, 2009 10:42PM
Next site visits:- Sunday 9th August – Resistivity Survey, Site 1         Sunday 16th August – First test pits, Site 1 Bill
Date: May 23, 2009 09:30AM
Formal work begins at the Rectory this Sunday, 24th May (10.00am on the car park).  Apologies for it being the Bank Holiday but time is pressing.  All members are welcome to attend but make sure your tetanus jab is up to date and you are up to date with your membership, otherwise you won’t be covered with insurance. It is intended to make a start on the main site grid in the south area of the garden and identify a location for the first trench. The Society equipment will be on site and depending on numbers a metal detector survey may commence. If anyone needs more information contact Eric on 07751 710487. Bill
Date: April 13, 2009 11:28AM

Here’s an accurate (or as best as I can get) overlay showing our grid lines (in green). The red line just above our peg may well be the extent of the landscaping which created the level area to the southwest of the hall – which suggests that much of the road (Frog Lane) lies under a terrace. We may therefore have to dig away this embankment to get at it (even if we can find an area to dig which is not covered by the tree canopy). Bill

Date: April 08, 2009 08:08PM
Site visit this Saturday (11th April) – meet on the car park in front of the Hall at 10am. We will be carrying on with the topographic survey, clearing and marking out the area intended for excavation. Should be there most of the day (let me know if you’re interest in coming). Bill
Date: November 28, 2008 10:24AM
The first aid kit was my own, and two of those tapes are mine, i also provided the water container and the stove kettle,antiseptic, tables, chairs,info’ board   etc. What you do have from the St. Williams project is all the tools and equipement bought using the grant awarded for that project but which would’nt stretch to a first aid kit and more tapes etc.
Date: November 26, 2008 10:39PM
Response to issue of resources: a. We must have a good quality first aid kit – a ‘statuary’ 1 to 10 persons kit costs about £10 (10 to 20 – £20). We must also insist that all volunteers have up to date tetanus jabs. b. Not sure what kit we already have left over from the St William’s dig. c. A modern automatic level would certainly speed up site surveying (angular gradiations would enable area surveying by triangulation). Maybe a laser distance measurer would also be beneficial (need costs). d. A Society camera maybe useful but would still need somebody to retain it to download images at home (or at least take the memory card). Regarding the archive, this will be kept on the Society’s laptop (in fact it has already started with the pictures already taken) to be copied and distributed on CD or printed for reports. When taking pictures of trenches a site information board should be used giving trench number, position and direction (date and other data are automatically embedded in the file). e. We have at least a half a dozen tapes (currently with the resistivity meter). f. I have a 50 gallon plastic container. g. No objection to antiseptic hand cream although my wife (who works at the hospital) recommends a sterile wash (in fact you can buy an eyewash kit with two bottles of sterile water in it). h. No objection to paper towels (I normally bring a towel). i. I have a two burner camping stove with gas bottle (used once when we mistakenly thought camping was a good idea). j. Again we need to find exactly what we do have from the St William’s project Bill
Date: November 20, 2008 10:09AM
Minutes of Rectory project meeting         UMS WM Club       19.11.08 Present:  BA, JB, MP, MT, IT, EW.      Apologies:  TG, BP. 1.  EW handed out copies of the proposed aims and objectives and trench locations. 2.  The aims and objectives for the project were discussed.  BA felt that a part of the aim should be changed from, ‘… record and preserve features and artefacts as appropriate, ….’  to ‘ … record features and preserve artefacts as appropriate, ….’ This was done. 3.  BA felt that the objective, ‘To discover the footprint of the pre-1875 building.’ the word ‘building’ should read ‘buildings’ as the remains of more than one pre-1875 rectory might exist. This was done. 4.  Item 6.1. suggested that the ‘Archaeological Site Manual’ of the Museum of London Archaeology Service could be used by the project as a guide towards good archaeological practice and to aid recording and referencing by members.  BA mentioned that other organisations provide similar manuals, including the IFA.  If BA supplies details of another manual it will replace the MoLAS manual as a guide. 5.  In principle the meeting agreed on the proposed trench locations. 6.  Resources for the projects were discussed:- a.  No decision was made for a ‘substantial first aid kit’. b.  ‘Two further ranging poles’ and ‘metric scale rods for photographs’ were discussed.  MT suggested these could all be made by members although it was not decided who would make them. c.  The purchase of a modern automatic level with tripod and staff was discussed.  No decision taken. d.   The purchase of a digital camera in order to ensure availability of all pictures and production of a properly indexed photograph archive was discussed.  JB mentioned that he normally took the pictures and mailed them to BA.  BA stated that he received most pictures that were taken by members.  EW mentioned that perhaps a camera might not be on site when one was needed.  BA said that usually someone on site had a camera. It was agreed that WAS did not require a digital camera although no decision was made regarding  how the photographic archive would be produced. e.  It was decided that no more long tape measures were required. f.   An on-site fresh water container was not discussed. g.  Antiseptic hand cream was discussed.  MT stated that watered down antiseptic would be cheaper and just as effective. h.   Paper towels were not discussed. i.   BA said that he would provide a stove and kettle for use on site.  MT suggested that members might use flasks. j.   Some site equipment was discussed.  MT suggested gardeners seed trays could be used for the storage of bagged finds.  MP thought that proper storage boxes could be purchased if/when required. Eric
Date: November 18, 2008 02:51PM
The meeting at Upper Morris Street WM Club at 7.30pm this Wednesday is for all members who are interested in the project at the Rectory and not just for those who will be actively involved.  We will be updated on how far the project has progressed to date, the aims and objectives and what we expect to attempt in the weeks to come and we also need to discuss resources.  A cause for concern is that the committee have not yet discussed and made arrangements for the project to go ahead. Upper Morris Street WM Club is just across the road from the Scout HQ where we meet and there is ample parking. Eric
Date: November 15, 2008 10:39AM
By the way it looks like the Scout HQ will be unavailable on Wednesday so meet at the Upper Morris St club (7.30pm) Bill
Date: November 14, 2008 08:29PM
No problem Eric I will E-mail you a list ‘usual suspects’ Bill
Date: November 14, 2008 06:14PM
Bill, I am fairly well on with the APP.  However, one thing I need to know are our manp……     personpower resources  ie. members who can assist at the Rectory in whatever capacity.  This obviously includes excavators, but also plan and section drawers, photographers, report writers, finds conservation etc. and perhaps most importantly a brewer upper. There will always be a job for any member that turns up.  However, it would help to know which members would like to assist and how often they would be able to attend.  Unfortunately we cannot rely on the forum so I really need to phone people up.  Do you have a contact list? Once we get going members who feel they are unable to assist in this way would always be welcome to visit the site for a look round and a chat. Eric
Date: November 14, 2008 05:35PM
Re Sunday morning,  caretaker at the Rectory has been informed so gates should be open and dogs placed where they cannot do us any harm. Eric
Date: November 14, 2008 11:19AM
Hi Bill/Eric, will be there.
Date: November 12, 2008 09:04PM
All those interested, meet on site this Sunday morning (16th) at 10.30 to continue topographical survey.
Date: November 03, 2008 08:18PM
Hi Eric – sorry for any misunderstanding. By the way thanks for the DBA text – I’m gradually putting it all into Wigapedia [] (and I’ll hopefully have the initial results from the survey there as well). Bill
Date: November 03, 2008 08:52AM
Bill, Thank you for including an item on the Society’s DBA in November’s Newsletter.  However it contains some inaccuracies for which I am at fault for not explaining clearly.  The following is a quote from that item: “Earlier in the week, Eric had visited Norman Redhead at the GMAU to view their DBA (which was produced by the University Archaeology Unit).Although a planning application for the site has yet to be made, this DBA was commission by interested parties to assess the potential for archaeology. Eric was shown a wide variety of maps (which are included in the report) and allowed to copy the text and all the maps he thought relevant to our DBA”. I completed our DBA and printed copies the day before I met with Norman.  In fact the first thing I did at our meeting was present Norman with a copy.  Everything in our DBA is a result of my own research and all sources are referenced. Norman did allow me to read through his copy of the UMAU DBA, although he stressed that I could not take copies because ownership of the report belonged to the body that commissioned it.  I noticed two maps that were of particular interest, Kellet’s 1837 map and an OS 5 ft to 1 mile map. The Society knew the first existed but no one had seen it, the second I do not think anyone in the Society knew existed, certainly no one has referred to it. I mentioned this to Norman and he did allow me to take a copy of each one.  I used these in my presentation to the committee the following day. I discussed with Norman the problem faced by amateur archaeologists in obtaining the most recent maps when preparing site plans.  He readily printed for me copies of a map which(after being adapted for use) would provide us with an excellent site plan for the Rectory.  I also used these maps in my presentation.  A site plan, adapted from the map,was used by Bill and I yesterday at the Rectory for the topographical survey. I hope this clears up any misunderstanding. Eric
Date: November 02, 2008 08:25PM
Met with Eric today on site – established datums and baseline for topographic survey. Suggest continuing survey next Sunday morning (say 10am). Bill
Date: November 01, 2008 07:40PM
I also hope that the committee, after considering the presentation and listening to the discussion that accompanied it, will decide and vote that option 2 is appropriate and, as required under the constitution, come up with an APP.  The question is how long will it take. We have already wasted eight months on this project and questions need to be asked why.  A complete excavation season has been lost.  I cannot see the committee being able to make any decision for at least a further six weeks.  Then, for the diggers, it will be the season for snow, frozen/waterlogged ground and bitterly cold weather. I agree that we need to complete a topographical survey, ending up with spot heights and hopefully a contour plan of the site.  This is particularly important in relation to the site of a possible moat.  The 1839 tithe map suggests one location and documentary evidence from the Bridgeman Ledger and other secondary sources would appear to support this location.  However a stewards account book of 1704 refers to a drawbridge which suggests a moat (or dry ditch) location much nearer the rectory building.  Locating a possible moat close to the building would require trial trenching, probably starting on the lawn and then perhaps in the area of the north-east wall of the rectory. (once we have determined where the original walls lay). A metal detector survey of the site might prove useful, certainly there is nothing to lose. The patterns shown in the results of the two resistivity surveys of the lawn need to be investigated by trial trenching.  Are they the garden features shown on the 1848 5ft : 1 mile map?  If not, what do the patterns represent?  Do any features lie below them? The site of the community centre appears to be a no-go area to the Society.  Still extant are the composition tiles of the floor, laid on a concrete base of unknown depth.  However, to the north-east, between the site of the centre and the present boundary wall there is a relatively open area within the woods which could be excavated.  Why excavate here?  This area only became a part of the Rectory grounds and landscaped, probably in the 1870’s, when the grounds were extended.  Prior to that date it appears to have been an extension of the present Frog Lane and led to the Mesnes field and, according to the 1847 5 ft to 1 mile map, the end of the road was marked by a turnstile (to keep yobbos and carts away from the Rectory??).  It is likely that evidence of this road remains below the present landscaped surface.  The road probably dates from the later medieval period and if located might provide dating evidence.  If it is found, and after thorough recording, the APP might direct further excavation with a view to locating possible evidence from the early medieval period and perhaps even earlier. Sibson’s ditch (not to be confused with the Ship Yard ditch) needs to be considered.  The origin of these entrenchments is uncertain.  Sibson believed them to be Roman.  Some claim that it is the medieval bank and ditch that surrounded the town.  Others say it dates from the Civil War period.  Dave Horrocks in the ‘Ship Yard Ditch’ forum thread quotes Sibson and Gray in Watkin.  These two references give descriptions and locations of the remains of the entrenchments as they appeared in the 19th century.  Using this information it is possible to determine an approximate alignment for the entrenchment.  Unfortunately the alignment is not certain in this area of the town.  Taking into consideration the available written accounts it would seem the entrenchment passed between the Rectory and close to the National School.  It is possible the entrenchment passed through the above mentioned area of the present Rectory grounds.  There is a remote chance that it traversed the southern area of the present grounds.  In any event the possibility of locating the entrenchment should not be ignored.  (I hope to attempt a more thorough work on Sibson’s Ditch soon). Evidence may remain of the south wing of the old rectory, a part of which might be located by excavation.  The cellar below this wing may also remain.  Any such remains might prove significant in determining the functions of the old rectory. If the committee do decide  to formulate an APP based on the information outlined above, they should bear in mind that the cost to the Society would be pennies rather than pounds.  However, a certain amount of funding beyond this minimum, to be used for the purchase of equipment, would provide the means of ensuring that the work would be carried out to as high a standard as an amateur society such as ours might aspire.  A couple more ranging poles are needed (to make 4 minimum), find bags, waterproof markers, masking tape,  waterproof site labels and nails, 6H pencils, plumb bob,  A3 tracing paper and metric graph paper etc. Metre, 50cm, 20cm and 5cm scales, a north  arrow and drawing boards would be useful and could be made by members.  These items, although simple, are ridiculously expensive to buy.  A Society digital camera would be handy.  It would ensure that all pictures remain with the Society and that they can be logged appropriately for the site record.
Date: October 25, 2008 10:35AM
Great presentation Eric at Thursday’s committee meeting (your meeting with Norman earlier in the week obviously proved very fruitful). Next step as you said is an APP (Archaeological Project Plan) which could be:- “1. a strategy for recording and preserving, or 2. an archaeological evaluation (pits, trenches, geo-physical surveying)  and possibly leading to archaeological excavation (major excavation), or 3. further research that the committee may decide will form the basis of any further WAS archaeological investigation “ My preference is for 2. – do we need to get together the thrash something out or do you want to put something together for discussion? (we could do it over the Forum). In the meantime I don’t suppose there is anything to stop us doing a topographical survey – Sundays are best for me. (p.s. I’ll book you in for the AGM) Bill
Date: June 13, 2008 08:08PM
It’s very tempting to imaging man-made stuctutures but we’ve been fooled by patches of dry sand and clay before (Brimlow farm, Lady Hill). Our meter, in its current configuration, can not see beyond about 1 metre deep – the sand was at least that deep (we’ll need to do some more test pitting to confirm it one or the other). Bill
Date: June 12, 2008 10:11PM
I agree with Brian. There are, what appear to be, distinct linear features and 90 degree turns. Strange that there wasn’t anything in the test areas. What are your thoughts on the lines Bill?

Date: June 12, 2008 02:43PM
Could it be that the features are at a greater depth, due to greater meter penetration, or are we seeing compressed areas of sand where wooden structures formerly have been? The area to the left of the grid (looks like a giant letter ‘A’) seems too regular, to me, to be accidental. It looks too ordered and comprises of constant thickness bands and 90 degree bends, if just wet and dry sand, it would have an irregular, random, amorphous appearance, surely? It certainly appears like the residual footprint of building foundations, or the supporting walls of a previous cellar perhaps?
Date: June 10, 2008 08:19PM
This result looks very interesting with what looks like possible structures lying just under the surface. Our small test pit, however, and augering proved that the high res readings are just area of dry sand. Tom has checked the geology map and has confirmed that sand and gravels underly this area (they were extracting it in the 19th century on the Grammar School playing field site). Conclusion is that the Hall is built on a natural mound of sand or sandy clay. There might possibly be something in the low res (dark) areas though i.e. rubbish pits. Bill
Date: June 10, 2008 08:05PM
Result from last Sunday’s session

Date: June 07, 2008 01:16PM
Surveying Training Day – Sunday 8th June – 10.00am – meet in front of the Hall (on the car park).
Date: April 10, 2008 09:30PM
Tom, Eric and I met with Ray Hutchinson (Curate) and Tom Price (Heritage Network) last Wednesday at the Hall to discuss possibilities for the Society to do some research in the grounds. The building and land is to be sold and will likely be redeveloped with the Hall being refurbished (a Grade 2 listed building dating from the 1880’s). Before this however we could do some useful work on this very prestigious site which dates from the Medieval period (reported as once being moated). Having never visited the site before what was particularly striking for me was the fact that the present Hall stands on a raised platform (whether this is artificial or not is not clear). Looking at early maps it is clear that the present hall was built on the same site as the earlier hall. However the entrance to the grounds from Frog Lane (where the gatehouse is) was moved when the present hall was built – pushing Frog Lane further towards the town centre. Certainly there are a number of areas where resistivity surveys could be carry out and a topographic survey would reveal the shape of the raised platform.  Tom has asked me to set up a Surveying Training Day and this could provide the ideal opportunity. Bill