Archaeology on allotments at Norton Road
Friday 30 October
On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Alan Goodwin, Nigel Harper-Scott, Pauline Gimson, Christl Squires, Philip Dean, Henry Marshall, Jim Skipper, M Spencer, Kieran Harkin, George Newton, Harry Webb
Weather: sunny, dry, unusually warm, clouding over by mid morning.
We have a good turnout today: eight adults and three young people from Henlow Middle School. This gives us enough people to do three trenches. I’m keeping to Evelyn’s part of the allotment, which is the northern end. Two of the trenches are close to the churchyard wall, one towards the road.
There is going to be a fair depth of topsoil, especially if there has been double digging in the allotment. All the finds so far have been later post-medieval in date, largely later nineteenth and twentieth century. There have been a couple of sherds of probably eighteenth-century pottery but so far nothing earlier. As it’s clouded over, it’s become much cooler and more like October.
According to Deborah Giles’s book, the poorhouse was demolished around 1850. If correct (and I have no reason to suspect it is not), that means I can’t have seen a photograph showing the building, as there are none of Norton so early. Perhaps I’ve seen a print or a painting.
In Trenches I and III (the two close to the churchyard wall) there is a change of context at a depth of only 0.10-0.15 m. These areas have evidently not received double digging… According to Alan, the allotment was rotavated before Evelyn took it over; I need to find out how deep a rotavator goes and precisely what it does to the soil.
During the afternoon, earlier material began to turn up in Trenches I and III, although I have not seen anything earlier than the eighteenth century in Trench II. In Trench III, there was a rimsherd of a greyware with a very pimply surface, which I think may be Thetford-type ware, as it doesn’t really look like Hertfordshire Grey Ware. In Trench I, there were a number of sherds of Harrold shelly ware, which is Romano-British.
By the end of the day, all three trenches had come down onto the harder material, always at the same kind of depth. I hope that we’ll be into archaeological deposits tomorrow!