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Archive of previous web reports

List of Archived reports taken from this website

1.       The Stour Valley, A Prehistoric Landscape
2.       The Lost Hunting Lodge of Worminford
3.     A Watching Brief in Peldon Churchyard
4.       Suspected Roman Road at Great Tey

 

1. The Stour Valley, A Prehistoric Landscape

CropMarksBook

The Middle Stour Valley, between Bures and Wormingford has long been of interest to Colchester Archaeological Group (CAG), owing to the number and variety of cropmarks visible from the air.  These came to light largely through the aerial photography of Ida McMaster, a long-standing member of CAG, who died in 2014 at the age of 96. She took to the skies with her camera regularly between the early 1970s and late 1990s, and being a resident of Mount Bures, was particularly keen to photograph this part of the valley. The cropmarks provide evidence of activity in the area from the early Neolithic, in the form of a long mortuary enclosure and at least one, or probably two, cursuses.  Later, Bronze Age people also used the area to bury their dead in round barrows, often clustered around or aligned on the earlier features.  CAG has been investigating the cropmarks for a number of years and has now published a booklet, ‘The Stour Valley: A Prehistoric Landscape’.  The booklet, which is 40 pages long, has a foreword by Ronald Blythe, is fully illustrated in colour and costs £3 plus p&p. It can be ordered e-mailing  – enquiries

As part of the groups ongoing research into this area, further detail is provided here. The work was compiled from smaller study areas based on Essex Historic Environment Records (EHER) – sometimes referred to as Sites and Monuments Records. Each study area with its associated notes and images is set out individually. This is an ongoing piece of work and the files will be updated as research continues. Any information or ideas you may wish to contribute should be sent to CAG –  enquiries

Introduction and map

Map for website

1. EHER 9178 and EHER 9181

2. EHER 9180

3. EHER 9190, 9189, 9193

4. EHER 9191 and 9192

5. EHER 9194

6. EHER 9199

7. EHER 9236 and EHER 9276

8EHER 9265

9. EHER 9195, 9179

10. EHER 9269 and 9198

References and list of aerial photographs

Further geophysical surveys have been carried out in the valley and the results presented by Dr Tim Dennis in a talk to the Group in February 2018. That presentation can be viewed here:

geosurveys_2017_low_Q (3)

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The Lost Tudor Huntiong Lodge at Wormingford booklet cover

A4, 24 pages and fully illustrated throughout in colour
ISBN 978-0-9503905-2-9

2. The Lost Tudor Hunting Lodge at Wormingford

For seven years the Group worked on a project at Wormingford in the middle Stour Valley and their findings are now available for viewing in this booklet.  Published by Colchester Archaeological Group with generous support from Essex and Suffolk Water and the Dedham Vale and Stour Valley Project the booklet was written by Howard Brooks, Andrew White & Francis Nicholls.

The name Lodge Hills had been shown on numerous tithe maps but referring to a wide area of high land overlooking the Stour Valley. The discovery by ferreters of a foundation of Tudor brickwork while clearing rabbits out of a hedge line led to the exciting discovery of the site of a lost Tudor hunting lodge. This structure turned out to be part of the hunting tower and complex of buildings owned by the Waldegrave estate based at Smallbridge Hall on the opposite bank of the River Stour in Suffolk.

Excavations took place between 2007 and 2014 and included the opening up of a well dating from the 16th century which contained the bottom half of a contemporary pumping mechanism

The booklet contains a summary of the historical research and excavations. Illustrations of the more interesting finds is also included.

Available from ten.kugacnull@selas price £2 plus postage (£1 +P&P for students).

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3. A Watching Brief in Peldon Churchyard

Two group members, Denise Hardy and Don Goodman were asked to-do a watching brief adjacent to the Bullock Family vault in Peldon churchyard. The vault had collapsed and was being assessed for repair by a builder.

The object of the watching brief was to examine the backfill replaced at the time of building the vault and look for any finds of pottery etc. with special reference to any Saxon pottery  as evidence of an earlier Saxon church on the site, referred  to in the book A Short History of The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin Peldon by The Revd Anthony W. Gough, Dip. Th. (Rector of Peldon 1664-1971).  The Builders first objective was to locate the entrance of the vault, and we were to examine the spoil for finds. The entrance found was via a bricked up doorway to the East end of the vault. The doorway was then broken down to a depth of Approx 4 Feet, to enable the architect and builder to assess the damage and estimate the cost and method of repair.

Finds Within The Spoil Removed By Builder

A large percentage of Human bones, including two skulls, these to be re-intered by the Rector.

Also found, nails, decayed wood, iron coffin handle, broken masonry, floor tile, glass, and pottery sherds (two Roman).  No Saxon pottery was found.

Inside The Vault

When the vault was opened we were able to see three brick partitions running East/West. The partitions contained much rotted coffin material, and skeletons.

One coffin in the South partition of the vault had a highly decorated coffin plate on the lid, possibly made of Copper or Brass and maybe in the Rococo style.

The vault was flooded with approximately one foot of water above the remains, it was assumed this was due to the vault being below the water table or the ingress of rain water though the damaged brick work above.

Interred in the vault, according to the church records, were the Bullock family listed below and indicated on the church grave plan as no 67.

Extract from Peldon grave plan.

Extract from Peldon grave plan.

Conclusion

Our observations revealed from the large amount disarticulated bones and coffin material in the back fill around the vault that the builders had little or no respect for earlier burials in the vicinity of the new vault they were building.

Discussions are still taking place as to the best method of repair of the vault. (March 2013).

Statistics

Grid Ref. PeldonChurch TL 9895 1677       Sketches: Carol Wheeldon & Don Goodman.

Site Code PC 10                                             Photographs: Don Goodman

Sketch of coffin plate from Peldon

Sketch of coffin plate from Peldon

.

Sketches & Photographs

Sketch plan of Vault at Peldon

Sketch plan of Vault at Peldon

 

Collapsed vault in church yard at Peldon

Collapsed vault in church yard at Peldon

Broken down entrance at East end of vault in Peldon

Broken down entrance at East end of vault

Brickwork inside the vault at Peldon

Brickwork inside the vault at Peldon

Coffin plate from vault in Peldon

Coffin plate from vault in Peldon

 

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4. Suspected Roman Road at Great Tey
Report by John Mallinson 1996-2006

Between 1996 and 2006 CAG, under the direction of James Fawn, carried out a series of excavations along the line of a suspected Roman Road at Great Tey.  The road had first been noticed as parallel lines of crop marks in aerial photos (RAF4625 30.07.63 RHCM NMR TL8824/1, and Ida McMaster, 1976 (Ref.. 1), personal collection, now lodged with ECC Historic Environment).

The existence of the road was confirmed in two excavations across its supposed line carried out by the Group between 1986 and 1993.  These, designated Teybrook A (TA) and Teybrook B (TB), have already been fully reported by James Fawn (Refs. 2 & 3). Further trenches were dug between 1993 & 2006, mainly on the boundary between Teybrook Farm and Warrens Farm, where the crop marks seen on the aerial photographs faded out (Figs. 1 & 2), with the objective of determining whether the road continued beyond this point, and if so, in which direction.  None of these excavations have been reported. The purpose of these notes is to record the extensive surviving archive, which has been be deposited with Colchester and Ipswich Museum, and to note any germane observations from surviving members of the digging team.

Summary

No trace of the road could be found much beyond the point at which it disappears as a crop mark (TC).  Around the line of the road, the entire area was rich in Roman activity, but it proved impossible to draw any firm conclusions as to the nature of that activity.  A series of discontinuous surfaces, all made of crushed Roman brick or tile, and at a varying range of depths, were found in several of the trenches.  These suggested some sort of low status industrial or agricultural activity, possibly associated with the villa 200m to the NE, but the evidence was very confusing.  Many of the surfaces were overlain with a layer of dark silty alluvium, suggesting that the area was subjected to regular flooding – hardly surprising since it lay close to, and in the flood plain of, the Roman River.

Map of Great Tey showing line of projected Roman RoadFour trenches along the West side of Cow Meadow (TD, TH, TI, TJ) cut through a large ditch-like feature running in a gentle curve roughly NS along the East side of the boundary fence.  James Fawn originally interpreted this feature as a boundary ditch, but its size and position, and the fact that it contained large quantities of Roman building materials, Roman coins and animal bone, all suggest that it was an early course of the Roman River, which changed course, or was diverted, towards the end of the Roman period.

TG was place to the south of TC in order to establish the line of the road, which had not been clear in TC.  3 ditches were identified, shown as thick black lines on Fig. 2..  These are shown on Drawing 16, and confirm with reasonable accuracy the line of the road shown on aerial photographs.

Fig. 1  Line of Roman Road  (red dashes) as seen in aerial photographs, and positions of TA, TB & TZ. Pale blue lines and numbers are from OS Map Area TL

TH & TI.  TH was originally begun, within the wood, in 1995 to investigate the possible continuation of the road beyond TC.  No trace of the road was found.  The trench was subsequently extended to the East into Cow Meadow to investigate the ditch/riverbed feature, and again in 2004 still further East.  A section of the Eastern half was drawn on completion, Drawing 15 below. Two Roman coins were recovered from the area of the ditch.   TI was subsequently opened diagonally to the North of TH.  Both TH and TI cut through the ditch/riverbed, and also exposed a complicated series of broken brick surfaces, largely composed of broken (probably) Roman brick and tile.

Cow Meadow, showing limit of Roman Road, and trenches

Cow Meadow, showing limit of Roman Road, and trenches

TJ “River Bed”  was dug in 2006 and extended the line of TC  across the ditch/river bed into Cow Meadow.  As with TD, considerable quantities of  Roman CBM were recovered.  More significantly 3 Roman coins were found.  These all dated to the early 4th century (See small finds list below) suggesting the feature was open until at least this time, and was filled in at or towards the end of the Roman period.  The line of the “River Bed” shows clearly on Google Earth and has been marked on Fig. 2 as two blue dashed lines cutting through TJ TD TH & TI.  Considerable quantities of animal bone were also recovered.  These have been examined by Ed Heigham, and her report is included in the archive.

Fig. 2  Cow Meadow, showing limit of Roman Road, and trenches TC –  TJ.  Approximate ditch/river bed line shown as blue dashes.

TZ  In 2006, at the request of the landowner Richard Browning, a further trench was put across the line of the road just south of Chase Cottages (see Fig. 1). This excavation was directed by Ruth Rolfe.  The positions of the four ditches were established, but no convincing road metalling was found, probably because the site was on the sloping ground leading down to Tey Brook, and the road had consequently suffered from erosion and plough damage.  A section was drawn by Anna Moore et al., Drawings 17, 18 & 19. No finds were recorded.

Further Excavations in Cow Meadow.  Several other trenches around  or open areas around TJ were excavated during 2006.  No record survives of identification numbers for these trenches.  Two can be seen, either on Google Earth or on AJF phtotgraphs, and these are shown, unlabelled on Fig. 2.  No finds have survived.  The recollection of the digging team is that they contained a series of discontinuous surfaces, at varying depths, comprised of crushed Roman CBM.  Many of the surfaces were overlain with a layer organic silty material consistent with episodes of flooding.  No dating evidence was recovered from any of the trenches.

 References

1.  McMaster, Ida: Notes on Two Possible Roman Roads and Crop Marks, CAG Bull 19, 1976 pp. 10-11.
2.  Fawn, James: A Roman Road at Teybrook Farm, Great Tey,  CAG Bull. 34, 1991 pp. 29-37
3.  Fawn, James: A Roman Road at Teybrook Farm, Great Tey: Part II,  CAG Bull. 41 2001 pp. 7-14

For a full copy of the excavation notes see here:- Great Tey Roman Road Excavations

 

1994 June 21st Mike Matthews, Richard Shackle and James Fawn Great Tey Roman Road

Richard S (Lt), Mike Matthews (Mid) James Fawn (Rt) at Great Tey Roman Road excavation in 1994

1995 May 19th Mike Matthews, Jonathan Oldham, James Fawn & students Great Tey Roman Road

Mike Matthews, Jonathan O, students & James Fawn at Gt Tey Roman Road excavation 19th May 1995

 

 Section of Great Tey Roman Road in 1991

Section of Great Tey Roman Road in 1991 – with James Fawn

 

 

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