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Pirton 2008

Pirton 2008 Pottery Report

Pirton 2008 Test Pit Location Map

Twenty-three test pits were excavated at Pirton in 2008, a considerable advance on the five dug in 2007. Many of these were excavated by local residents and members of the North Hertfordshire Archaeological Society, using the same methods and under the same University of Cambridge supervision as the HEFA test pits. Evidence for the later Anglo-Saxon period was considerably amplified compared to that recovered in 2007: eleven pits produced material of this date, including PIR/08/1, PIR/08/17 and PIR/08/23 which all produced significant quantities (more than five sherds) of pottery dating to the ninth to eleventh centuries from undisturbed levels, strongly indicating the presence of settlement of later Anglo-Saxon date in this area. The area between the present church and West Lane also produced enough ceramic material to posit the present of some sort of more intensive activity in this area. Taken with the evidence from 2007, settlement at Pirton in the later Anglo-Saxon period appears to have been quite extensive, (although not necessarily continuous) and intensive in some places, in the east of the present area of settlement. It appears to be taking the form of a nucleated settlement, although its size is difficult to establish on current evidence.

The centuries following the Norman Conquest saw a dramatic expansion in both extent and intensity of activity at Pirton as represented by pottery finds, with nearly all excavated pits producing significant quantities of ceramic material dating to between c. 1100-1400 AD. Notably, this is the first period for which any of the pits west of the castle have produced pottery and it is interesting to note settlement expansion and intensification coinciding with the construction of the castle. Equally dramatic is the contraction in activity in the fifteenth century, indicated by an almost complete dearth of pottery of this date: a total of just eight sherds have been recovered from the twenty-eight pits excavated to date. By the seventeenth century, however, a recovery seems to have taken place as the volume of pottery recovered is once again high from nearly all excavated test pits.