Ladywell Field

 

In the summer of 2002, two trial excavation trenches totalling some 16 square metres were opened by hand on a raised platform in the eastern half of Ladywell Field, off Church Lane, Sedgeford, Norfolk (NGR TF 70653642). SHARP was invited to undertake the work in partnership with the Smithdon Hundred Local History Forum (SHLHF) after desktop research and extensive geophysical survey indicated the archaeological potential of the site.


The desktop research had revealed that the  study area was located within the focus of the medieval village of Sedgeford and that the land was owned during this period by the de Sedgeford family. Before 1166 the family had  been granted a half knights fee by Norwich Cathedral Priory who had created it from the original Sedgeford estate recorded in the Little Domesday Book. The proximity to the Saxo-Norman church of St Mary the Virgin amongst other evidence also indicated the potential for understanding the Late Saxon settlement and for discovering activity of a much earlier date on the site.
The geophysical survey, of which the electrical resistivity results  were more productive, indicated that a raised platform running across the study area was likely the site of several stone structures and that west of the platform was a linear ditch running north-south and joining the river at its southern extent.  Consequently, a programme of ?ve archaeological trial trenches was designed to determine the presence of such features and related archaeological deposits, although in practise only two trenches were undertaken. Trench 1 contained substantial archaeological  deposits almost directly beneath the ground surface.  These included two 20th century ?eld drains and three substantial chalk walls, another chalk structure, a curbed chalk and ?int surface and associated deposits that can all be artefactually dated to the medieval period. Medieval pottery, bone and shell dominated the ?nds assemblage but medieval to modern ceramic building material, iron nails and fragments of lava quern stone were also represented.


Other evidence of modern activity was revealed in Trench 2.  It consisted of a 20th century ?eld drain, plus a series of rubble and soil deposits and a surface of 17th to 19th century date. A chalk wall with a sequence of dumped deposits to its east represented medieval activity.  Finds were almost entirely restricted to medieval to modern ceramic building material, a variety of shell and fragments of heat affected daub,  but also included an amount of medieval pottery and some animal bone fragments.


In addition to the archaeological deposits recorded, a small assemblage of residual mid to late Iron Age and Late Saxon Thetford-type ware pottery was recovered from each of the excavation trenches.  Such an assemblage suggests activity within the vicinity of the study area during the Iron Age and Late Saxon periods.


The results of the documentary  research, geophysical survey and trial trenching shows that Ladywell Field appears to have been a moated site and an area of  substantial medieval occupation, which went into decline during the modern period when it became pasture land.   The raised platform in the eastern half of the ?eld was the site of several medieval chalk structures that may have been associated with the manor house of the de Sedgeford family. No further archaeological work is envisaged for the future.

 

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Andrea Beckham