Access Cambridge Archaeology, on behalf of the HLF-funded Managing a Masterpiece scheme, ran a one-week public programme of community archaeological excavation and test pitting on the Common in Bures between the 25th and 29th June 2012.
Following a successful campaign in 2011 to raise funds to purchase Bures common from private ownership, the residents of Bures intend to return it to public use for the first time since the eighteenth century. The Bures Common Land charitable trust had given permission for the excavations to take place.
Three trenches were opened on the common itself, following on from a geophysical survey of the land to determine the route of a previous water course as well as locating the medieval and later town tip.
Test Pit Excavations
An additional seven test pits were also opened in gardens around the village, with a single test pit also located on the common. These excavations were undertaken by pupils at Thomas Gainsborough School and funded by Managing a Masterpiece, a Heritage Lottery Fund project based along the Stour Valley in south Suffolk and north Essex, which also funded the community excavations on Bures Common which took place at the same time.
With such a small number of pits excavated it is impossible to make any but the most superficial observations. In particular, it is not possible to draw any conclusions based on negative evidence, such as the absence of any finds of pre-12th century date. Two pits produced pottery of high medieval date, although neither yielded more than three sherds. Even less pottery of later medieval date was recovered, although it is not possible to attach any significance to this as evidence of a decline from such a small number of pits. In contrast, most of the pits produced large amounts of post-medieval pottery, with glazed red earthenwares dominating the assemblages, although several pits also produced a range of less utilitarian wares imported from Staffordshire and Germany.