Nettleham Bishop’s Meadow Community Dig | September 2016

by | Dec 1, 2016 | History, Nettleham Heritage Association, Places | Heritage | 0 comments

The dig started on 5 September 2016 and from the start we had brilliant sunny weather, which stayed with us throughout the whole of the dig – except, unfortunately, the proposed Open Day on Saturday 10 September.

Arriving on site, we were blessed with a number of volunteers arriving, some from LAG (Lincoln Archaeology Group) a group to which I also belong, plus volunteers who we had never met before. I would at this time like to thank all the volunteers who took part in the dig, as without helpers a project like this could not take place.

It was decided to create two test pits: Number 1 pit was in the north-­eastern area of the meadow and Number 2 pit was adjacent to the Prince’s Gate. The soil was very easy to dig, unlike other pits which have been dug in the past few months!

There was also another very important pit ­ this was the children’s pit, and we are delighted to say that every class from the Junior School managed to attend the dig. I am reliably informed that the children thoroughly enjoyed themselves, were immaculately behaved, and were a credit to both the school and the village. The children were very enthusiastic and were given an opportunity to take part in digging, sieving the spoil, washing finds and recording the finds with drawings.

All the finds will eventually be examined by experts in their relevant fields including pot, bone, metal, etc.

We have received positive feedback from the volunteers, who thoroughly enjoyed themselves, learnt new skills, and were a very valued resource.

At this point I would like to mention our professional team Banks Newton. I have been on a couple of digs involving the professionals from this organisation before, and I can say that their ethos works very well, being a careful balance between professionalism and fun.

The most­-heard comment from volunteers was “I have always wanted to do this”, followed after the event by “I thoroughly enjoyed it and have learnt so much”.

Stewart Kerrison
Chairman, Nettleham Heritage Association

Banks Newton Interim Report

Now the excavation part of the dig at the Bishop’s Meadow is complete, we can start to look at the evidence gathered.

Both of the test pits excavated produced quite similar results. Beneath relatively modern topsoils, subsequent layers of differing compositions were discovered. Finds from the upper deposits and those from lower deposits beneath, contained finds from an earlier period of history than expected. These ceramics give a tantalising glimpse into the Saxon settlement, known to exist in the vicinity of the Bishop’s Palace prior to its construction.

The ceramics retrieved during the dig is one of the most interesting features of the excavations. We expected to find large quantities of medieval pottery from the Bishop’s Palace itself and also quantities of medieval roof tile, but instead we found a very interesting assemblage of Saxon and Middle Saxon ceramics.

This gives a date range for occupation or use of the site of possibly as early as the 5th century, possibly ending in the 9th. The presence of so much Middle Saxon pottery is particularly interesting. Some of the sherds are very obviously handmade and are likely to be early Saxon. Once the NHA has finished processing them (they all need washing and marking) they will be sent to the ceramic specialist Jane Young who will catalogue them and write us a report.

Negative evidence can also be interesting. We found very little medieval roof tile, suggesting that any dwellings were not roofed with tile. Also no large quantities of tile from the Bishop’s Palace itself ended up in Bishop’s Meadow. So where is it?

In addition to the pottery found on site, a small quantity of iron ore and slag was discovered mixed within the Saxon deposits and may indicate the presence of early ironworking near to the site.

Further work is still to be completed and analysis of these finds will provide clearer dating evidence and assist in a clearer interpretation of this interesting site.

Banks Newton Heritage | 2016

Nettleham Heritage Association received a £13,900 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to enable an archaeological excavation to be carried out exploring the historic heritage of the village and investigating Bishop’s Meadow, a community leisure area adjacent to the medieval Bishop’s Palace site.