2012 Community Dig
The final report for all the test pitting in Peakirk in 2012 can be read
Twenty-seven pits were dug as part of the ‘Dig and Sow’ project in Peakirk in April, with nine more dug in July as part of a HEFA course, bringing the total to thirty-six. The majority of the pits were excavated in residential gardens, but pits were also dug on the village green in the centre of the village.
The pottery data from the 2012 test pitting shows a clear spike in activity during the Roman period, clearly associated with the Car Dyke: fourteen of the pits produced pottery of Roman date, more than a third of the total excavated. Virtually all of the test pits near the church produced Romano-British material, with further Romano-British sherds found along the approximate line of the Car Dyke through the village. The greatest numbers of sherds came from PAS/12/25, PAS/1224 and PAS/1219b, located in a line of properties to the west of St Pega’s Road. Together with the Roman-era finds already reported from Peakirk (one Roman burial urn uncovered somewhere near the village; a concentration of Romano-British pottery, rubbish pits, amphora and oyster shells recovered from the Rectory garden in 1919; and a Roman field system identified from crop marks using aerial photography), these new pottery assemblages provide convincing evidence of settlement in the vicinity of St Pega’s church and Rectory Lane during the Roman period, This may have been a village or possibly a rural villa complex.
Despite historical hints of habitation at St Pega’s church in the 8th century, no pottery dating to this period was found in any of the pits in 2012. It is possible that any occupation associated with this church was of very limited extent, and may have been slighted during Danish raiding in the 9th century: with good waterborne connections to the North Sea, any establishment at Peakirk would have been particularly vulnerable.
In contrast, fifteen of the test pits produced late Anglo-Saxon pottery (c. 850-1100 AD), indicative of a sudden increase in activity over a large part of the modern village in this area. This may derive from settlement around a 10th century re-establishment of St Pega’s church, as happened with many pre-9th century religious foundations destroyed by Danish or Viking raiding. But the overall impression is of a new settlement clustered around the village green at Chestnut Close, the centre of the modern village: in this area, PEA/12/07 produced especially large quantities of late Saxon sherds.
The high medieval period sees a continuation of the clustered nucleation around the present village green near the church, with some more intermittent settlement to the south suggested by high medieval pottery from pits in gardens along St Pega’s Road. There is little indication of any later medieval contraction, with nearly as many pits producing pottery of this date as for the high medieval period. It does seem, however, that the area nearest the Hermitage, in the very north of the present village, sees some marked diminution in the intensity of activity.