Access Cambridge Archaeology, on behalf of the HLF-funded Managing a Masterpiece scheme, ran a two-week public programme of community archaeological excavation, test pitting and survey on and around Mount Bures Castle between the 8th and 19th of August 2011.
The community excavations took place on and around the summit of Mount Bures Castle and the archaeological survey and test-pitting was undertaken in properties in the vicinity of the monument as well as the land around the Motte and Church.
Test Pit Excavations
Eight test pits were excavated in Mount Bures in 2011, as part of a community excavation funded by the heritage Lottery Fund with the aim of providing information about the archaeology of the settlement to complement that derived from simultaneous excavations on and around the castle mound. Four of the pits were sited close to the church and mound, with the other four located in gardens in the village. The earliest pottery was found in the pit closest to the church, MBU/11/08 (excavated close to the graveyard wall south of the church), which produced a 10g sherd of Ipswich Thetford-type Ware (mid 9th – late 11th century). This could date to before or after the Norman Conquest, but as it was associated with nearly forty sherds of Early Medieval Sandy coarsewares (12th – 14th century), it seems probable that it belongs to the early post-conquest period, although the possibility that it represents pre-Conquest activity cannot be ruled out. Part of a cut feature, probably a large post hole but possibly one end of a beam slot, was revealed in one corner of MBU/11/08 and confirmed the presence of a medieval structure in the immediate vicinity of the church. The only other site to produce material possibly of this early a date was MBU/11/04, sited in the garden of Herd’s Pasture, a late- or early post-medieval timber-framed house outside the present village, some 500m east of the church, which yielded a single small sherd of Thetford Ware.
Away from the church/motte complex, MBU/11/04 and MBU/11/06 (sited near the present railway crossing) produced pottery of high medieval date in sufficient quantities to confidently infer settlement in the immediate vicinity. These sites are some distance from the church/motte and from each other. Although it is impossible to make many firm inferences based on such a small number of excavated sites, there does seem to be evidence that a dispersed pattern of settlement extended beyond the present settlement core in the high medieval period. None of the pits around the church/motte produced any pottery of later medieval date, although small quantities (three sherds) were recovered from MBU/11/04 and MBU/11/06.