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Wendens Ambo Test Pit Location Map 2017

Wendens Ambo 2017 Pottery Report


2017 was the first year of test pit excavations in Wendens Ambo, when in July a total of 12 1m square archaeological test pits were excavated by 55 Year 9, 10 and 12 students from Stewards Academy, Davenant Foundation School, Hertfordshire and Essex High School, Passmores Academy and The Bishop Stortford High School. The test pits were dug as as part of the Independent Learning Archaeology Field School (ILAFS) programme, formally known as the Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA), undertaken by Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA) in East Anglia and beyond, which aims to raise the aspirations, enthusiasm and attainment of 14-17 year-olds with regard to higher education by making a valuable contribution to current academic research at the University of Cambridge, into the development of rural communities and settlements in the past.

The 12 test pits were mainly focused in the west of the village along Royston Road and Duck Street, although a couple of pits were also sited to the south along Rookery Lane. The earliest pottery identified from the test pits dates to the Roman period that was found either side of the stream from WAM/17/3 and WAM/17/10 and may be an extension of the known Roman site that was found prior to the construction of the M11 motorway just to the west.  A single sherd of Late Anglo Saxon pottery was found from land to the rear of The Bell Inn (WAM/17/10) and does hint that the early settlement of Wendens Ambo was focused to the north of the stream. Activity expanded further to the south during the medieval period with activity recorded from test pits either side of the stream (WAM/17/6, WAM/17/8, WAM/17/10 and WAM/17/11), although the settlement likely remained small. There was a shift in settlement again into the later medieval, likely due to the many socio and economic factors of that time, including the Black Death that also saw areas that were occupied during the high medieval being abandoned. The settlement recovered into the post medieval and the focus of settlement was once again closer to the main road and the church, but for the first time, activity was also noted in the far south of the settlement along Rookery Lane. The village remained small through the 19th century also, despite the coming of the railways, which effectively divided the settlement in two, the layout was much the same as can be seen today.