Community Dig 2010
Seventeen test pits were excavated in Sharnbrook in 2010, bringing the total to date to forty-three. New sites excavated in 2010 included several on the south-western side of the High Street, and west of the church.
Two test pit excavations in 2010 produced the first datable material of Roman date, although only single sherds were recovered from either pit. SHA/11/02 was in a part of the north of the present village where no test pitting had previously been carried out and produced a 10g sherd derived from a context 50-60cm below the surface which contained no recent material, but did also yield a sherd of medieval pottery. This layer was just above the natural which was encountered at 70cm. This does not seem to indicate any significant Roman activity in the area, although it is possible that more extensive material of Roman date may exist in the unexplored area to the west of this test pit. SHA/11/06 yielded a much smaller sherd (3g), from a similar depth, also with a medieval sherd. However, this pit was not excavated to natural, so further material of early date may survive in lower levels.
This second find of Roman material would be easy to dismiss also as being too small and disturbed to be significant, but it is noteworthy because the same pit, along with another one nearby (SHA/11/07) both produced the first finds from test pitting in Sharnbrook of pottery of early Anglo-Saxon date (AD450-700). Both early Anglo-Saxon sherds are small (3g and 2g respectively), but given their proximity to each other, they can be interpreted as likely to indicate activity of some sort in this area in the earlier Anglo-Saxon period, and given the limited volume of pottery of this date normally found, it is reasonable to infer in these circumstances that this is likely to derive from some sort of settlement in this area. As excavation has not yet taken place in the gardens of adjacent properties, it is impossible to say how far this settlement may have extended, but given that several pits have been excavated immediately to the north and produced no pottery of this date, it seems unlikely that the settlement extended north of the present village street in the 5th – 7th century. No pottery of definite middle Anglo-Saxon date, such as Ipswich Ware, was found in either of pits SHA/11/02 or SHA/11/06, indeed, no material of this date has to date been found in any of the test pits in Sharnbrook. As in previous years, it seems that later Anglo-Saxon settlement occupied the area west and north of the church, and this does not appear on current evidence to have been very extensive or very compactly nucleated. It is in the period between 1100 and 1300 that the settlement seems to grow most markedly, and it is then that the eastern part of present village seems to come into existence, perhaps as a new planned extension along the High Street. As in previous years, there remains no evidence of significant post-fourteenth century contraction, with areas including the outlying sites of Manor Farm and Barleycroft in use before this time also continuing in use afterwards. There is, however, a possibility that the settlement may be shifting around at this time, with some plots coming into use and others declining.