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Wendens Ambo 2018 Schools and Community Test Pit Location Map

Wendens Ambo 2018 Schools and Community Dig Pottery Report


Two test pitting excavations were carried out in Wendens Ambo in 2018, the first was in late July, where 14 1m2 archaeological test pits were excavated by 48 Year 9 and 10 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, 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 second phase of excavations were undertaken over a single weekend in August as a community based event, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (with additional contributions both from Wendens Ambo Parish Council and Uttlesford District Council) and organised in conjunction with the Wendens Ambo Society. 

 In 2018 the first prehistoric pottery to be excavated through the test pitting strategy was found from three different sites. Three sherds of Bronze Age pot was recorded from WAM/18/7, WAM/18/16 and WAM/18/17, with a sherd of Iron Age pot also recorded from WAM/18/16. These were all found close to the known area of later prehistoric settlement at Chinnel Barn, also the site of a Roman villa. Romano-British pottery was recorded from four test pits, the majority were in the Jubilee Wood and Duck Street area, following on from the same pattern identified by the prehistoric pottery, although also expanding to the north of the brook. A single sherd of Late Anglo Saxon St Neots Ware pottery was found from one test pit, WAM/18/24, situated at Westbury Barn, immediately north of the brook and was close to the only other Late Anglo Saxon find from the 2017 test pitting.  

Evidence for the two medieval villages of Wendens Parva (Little Wenden) and Wendens Magna (Great Wenden) were likely identified as two separate clusters of activity through the distribution of the medieval pottery. Little Wenden was focused around the site of its church along Royston Road, extending south to Westbury Barn and in Great Wenden, the focus was on the northern half of Duck Street, with nothing coming up from around the church of St Mary. The villages were both likely affected by the Black Death and other numerous socio-economic factors of the 14th century, with some area of the village being completely abandoned. The two settlements were joined during the 17th century, at a time when a lot of the village underwent a great 're-building', including expansion of the settlement for the first time, along Rookery Lane. 19th century and later activity is also quite widespread, partly related to the construction of the railway which cut the settlement in half, although there was limited house building at this time. A lot of Wendens Ambo today is modern infilling.