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Isleham 2011

Isleham 2011 Pottery Report

Isleham 2011 Test Pit Location Map

Thirteen test pits were excavated in Isleham in 2011, nine of these were sited in the centre of the present village, with the other four in a field about a mile to the south-west, on a location identified by an amateur local historian as the site of Little Isleham.

The earliest excavated finds from Isleham in 2011 came from ISL/11/01 (in Little London), which produced four sherds each of pottery of Iron Age and Romano-British date, providing evidence that settlement of this date extended into this area. No Anglo-Saxon pottery was found, however, and only three sherds of medieval date, of which two dated to post-1400 AD, so the extent to which settlement continued after the Roman period is unclear.

Test pits ISL/11/06 and ISL/11/07, sited nearest to the second hythe identified by Oosthuizen, both produced pottery of late Anglo-Saxon (in ISL/11/06) and high medieval (in both pits) date, giving some support to the suggestion of a hythe in this area, although the numbers of sherds in both instances were fewer that would normally be considered likely to indicate intensive activity in the vicinity.

The test pits in the field south-west of the village (ISL/11/10-13) all produced pottery of high medieval date, providing strong support for the suggestion that this was the site of Little Isleham. None of the pottery recovered from the pits pre-dated c.1100 AD, although four of the twenty-nine sherds collected from the surface during a pre-excavation reconnaissance dated to the Roman period. None of the pottery from the test pits post-dated 1350 AD, when the area appears to have been abandoned. Settlement contraction is also hinted at in the test pits in the present village, although with only a small number excavated so far, this is difficult to assess: four pits produced a total of twelve sherds of high medieval date, while only two pits produced pottery of post-14th century medieval date, each yielding just a single sherd. Notably, ISL/11/06 (north of the church) produced a continuous sequence of pottery from the late Anglo-Saxon period onwards (albeit in very small amounts). Excavation of ISL/11/08 (nearest the other putative hythe), was unfortunately terminated early when an early modern concrete floor surface was encountered, so assessment of the buried archaeology in this area has not yet been possible.