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Swaffham Bulbeck 2012

Swaffham Bulbeck 2012 Pottery Report

Swaffham Bulbeck 2012 Test Pit Location Map

Swaffham Bulbeck 2012 Report on the Archaeological Test Pit Excavations





The results from the ten test pits excavated in Swaffham Bulbeck in 2012 were extremely interesting, and despite the small number of pits excavated to date, some significant observations can be made. The earliest datable finds was a sherd of flint-tempered pottery of late Bronze Age/early Iron Age date (800-500BC), from SBU/12/10, c. 100m east of the present church. This pit also produced the only material of Roman date recovered from the 2012 excavations, a small sherd weighing just 2g, recovered from a spit which also included significant volumes of late Anglo-Saxon material, but little of later date. On present evidence, it does not seem likely that a Romano-British settlement was present in this area.

It does seem clear, however, that a nucleated settlement was in existence around the site of the present church by the late Anglo-Saxon period, as four of the five pits in this area (SBU/12/01, SBU/12/02, SBU/12/03 and SBU/12/10) produced significant numbers of sherds of Thetford Ware (850-1100 AD) and Saint Neots Ware (900-1200 AD). No material of this date was found in any of the other pits excavated in 2012.  Activity here continues into the high medieval period, when evidence of a northerly expansion of the settlement is provided by pottery from SBU/12/07 (on Station Road) and SBU/12/04 (at the south end of Commercial End). Both of these pits produced six sherds from a range of vessels dating to 1100-1400 AD. The finds from SBU/12/04 in particular do seem to provide corroborative evidence for the founding of Newnham End in the 12th or 13th centuries AD. A single small (3g) sherd of Hertfordshire Greyware from SBU/12/06, east of Green Bank Road, is probably most convincingly interpreted as deriving from manuring of arable field rather than settlement in the vicinity.

It is interesting to note that SBU/12/07 did not produce any pottery of later medieval date, hinting tentatively at some degree of contraction here in this period: indeed none of the pits in Commercial End produced any material dating to the 15th or 16th centuries. The level of activity around the church, on the other hand, seems to be largely unaffected by any late medieval decline. It is notable that SBU/12/06 actually produced more pottery of late medieval date than at any earlier period, a total of five sherds of late medieval transitional wares. Although small, these would normally be enough to infer settlement is likely to have been present in the vicinity at this date, and if so may indicate an outlying cottage or farmstead nearby, possibly newly-built at this time.

All the excavated pits produced pottery of post-medieval date, including locally glazed red earthen-wares as well as more exotic fine-wares from Norwich/London, Staffordshire and Germany. Interestingly, the fine-wares came exclusively from the pits around the church, with none found in Commercial End or along Station Road or east of Green Bank Road.


Test Pit Animal Bone Distribution Map 2012

Test Pit Flint & Burnt Stone Distribution Map 2012