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Smarden 2008 Pottery Report

Smarden 2008 Test Pit Location Map

Smarden 2008 Report on the Archaeological Test Pit Excavations





Ten test pits were excavated in Smarden in 2008 by village residents using the same methods and under the same University of Cambridge supervision as the HEFA test pits.  All bar two of these were in the gardens of properties on the south side of the High Street in the area of the putative former market place. None of the pits produced any pottery pre-dating the eleventh century, but seven of the eight south of the High Street produced all these All of these produced pottery dating from 1100-1225 onwards, although material of this date was found in minimal quantities in SMA/08/1, SMA/08/3 and SMA/08/5. It is interesting to note that these all lie north of the posited edge of the triangular market place, and give tentative support to this inference.  The most notable finds of medieval date came from SMA/08/1, where nearly thirty medieval and post-medieval silver coins were found between 10 cm and 30cm below the surface. Preliminary inspection by Dr Martin Allen (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge) indicated that these ranged from the Short Cross coinage of 1180-1247 to the reign of Charles II. Dr Allen stated that an assemblage of this character is quite atypical of a hoard, unless the coins represent scrap silver deposited in modern times. In most respects they resemble metal detector assemblages from relatively large productive sites such as the sites of markets or fairs, except that there is a complete absence of jettons which is unheard of in archaeological contexts with significant numbers of medieval coins.  It is notable that the great majority of the other finds in the levels in which the coins were found were of nineteenth or twentieth century date, with only one tiny (4g) sherd of pottery predating 1500 found in spit 2 (10-20 cm below the surface): this would normally be interpreted as residual and unlikely to indicate intensive activity in the vicinity.  On the basis of all evidence available to date, the coins have been tentatively interpreted as the remains of a deliberately and selectively assembled collection (probably of Victorian date although possibly more recent) of pre-1700 silver coins, favouring the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It is impossible to say whether these originally came from Smarden, and it at present remains ironic that a collection of coins from an area posited as lying within a former market and whose profile in many respects fits that expected from a medieval market site appears quite categorically to be in fact a collection of much later date which may have no connection with medieval Smarden at all.