Summer Season 2022 - Week One
A very busy week, with a large number of volunteers and students working on our main excavation trench in Chalkpit Field and the new evaluation trench in Saggy Horse Field (West Hall Long Meadow). In addition, we also ran our first course of the season, Non Invasive Archaeology.
Drone photo looking north west across the Heacham River valley, showing main excavation in Chalkpit Field (bottom of photo), the evaluation trench in Chalkpit Quarry and above this the evaluation trench in Saggy Horse Field.
Much of the work undertaken involved cleaning the main malting house features identified from previous years but with special attention paid to the most recently revealed features at the northern and southern ends of the trench. A the northernmost end of the trench, two kiln-like features appear to represent further malting houses, with a considerable quantity of collapsed daub still in situ. Unlike the earlier excavated malting house features, these, as yet, does not appear to have a clay-lined steeping cistern associated with it. It is possible that the already excavated steeping cistern continued to serve later features on the site.
Main excavation trench, Chalkpit Field.
At the southernmost end of the trench, a previously identified feature continues to remain enigmatic. This feature, the largest so far revealed within the trench, is a large circular area full of collapsed daub and burnt charcoal.
Drone photo of main excavation trench, Chalkpit Field, looking west.
On the eastern and western boundaries of the trench, further excavation continued to establish the routes of channels which had been created around the malting houses, acting both as water sources and also as flood defence.
Saggy Horse Field
The first week of the evaluation excavation in Saggy Horse Field was a productive one. Sondages revealed evidence of a cut of a and east-west aligned, canal-like feature, revealed in the 2003 and 2019 excavations on the same site. A small number of pottery sherds, dating from the Romano-British to medieval, glazed Grimston ware, were recovered from the upper fills.
Excavating the evaluation trench in Saggy Horse Field.
Non-Invasive Archaeology Course
This year’s Non-Invasive Course was well attended with nine students. The course involved a mix of classroom and practical work, looking at topics such as the historical resources available on the internet, factors that influence settlement patterns, and the analysis of the data collected from our own practical activities using magnetometry and resistivity equipment.
Resistivity survey in Park Field.
The area that was the focus of our field work was Park Field (to the north of Hall Field and east of Boneyard woods). This area was chosen, as last year magnetometry was undertaken in Hall Field, and we were looking to see if any of the features seen carried through into this field. Also, the 1630’s Le Strange Estate map shows a track/roadway with structures (houses?) on the southern side. No archaeological survey or excavation work appears to have been undertaken in this particular area, so our results would be a valuable addition to the Sharp records. Unfortunately, more rain than anticipated during the week, curtailed the amount of geophysics undertaken (maggie doesn’t like getting wet!), but it is hoped that the remaining area will be completed during the season by SHARP’s geophys team.
Magnetometry survey in Park Field.
However, the data that was collected was then collated into layers on a graphical information system so that interpretation of the features found during geophys could commence – this has, in fact, highlighted further areas for investigation.
We also had the opportunity to get out and about within the wider landscape with visits to Fring Harbour, Harpley barrows, Castle Acre, and Warham Camp. At Warham Camp the group were set the task of calculating the number of labour weeks taken to excavate the ditch surrounding the camp based on measurements taken in the field and adaptations of current labour outputs. This led to lively discussions on the social/hierarchical set up that must have been in place to organise the labour.
Field survey at Warham Camp.
Feedback for the course attendees has been extremely positive and they were grateful for the breadth of topics covered.
Lecture - Tuesday 28th June
The first of this summer's lectures was delivered by SHARP's Phil Hill, where he re-examined and revisited the excavation of the Anglo-Saxon settlement in Chalkpit Field. Phil's fascinating lecture shone a new light on some previously held assumptions about the settlement and some of its building features. A very thought-provoking talk which was well received by the audience and will undoubtedly carry forward our understanding of the site.
Entertainment Evening - Friday 1st July
The end to our first week of excavation was culminated with an evening of song. Starting with the very talented Emily Blake (https://www.facebook/emilyblakesings), we later finished off the evening with an open mic karaoke session...