Thanks to the continued support of Heritage Lottery funding, AGES AHA was able to extend this year’s project to a dig in the garden of the former Crown Inn. This followed an invitation from Castle Point Borough Council to research the site prior to the planned Hadleigh town centre redevelopment.
The dig ran for 5 days from Saturday 5th September and involved three 1 metre square test pits, with all the finds going to Cambridge University for Carenza Lewis to eventually report as part of her Continually Occupied Rural Settlements project. The project is looking at the development of villages especially during medieval times and this particular dig provided much evidence of that period once all the pottery was dated by Paul Blinkhorn.
The dig revealed evidence of the use of the Crown as an inn with stables, in the form of clay pipes and horse teeth.
Lower down, at about 80cm below ground, large amounts of medieval pottery were found, some of which was dated within about 50 years before (Saxon) or after the Norman Conquest and before the date that the present church and the castle were built.
At 90cm below ground were found 3 post holes formerly containing 7cm diameter round timbers set in 14cm diameter holes cut into the natural gravel. Below and as old or older than the medieval pottery, the timbers were probably too small for a main building structure, but could have been part of an internal structure or an external feature such as a fence or drying rack or could have possibly been scaffolding used in the building of a dwelling or farm building.
Probably older still, was a piece of Romano-British pottery found in another of the pits, adding to the spread of Roman pottery found for the first time across the old village centre during the year.
Across the site were many flints, some of them apparently worked to the shape of a tool in prehistoric times.
Hopefully, the Hadleigh information can be further built on by a proposed 2 day dig in local gardens in May 2016 by AGES AHA and Southend school students under the Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA), co-ordinated by AGES AHA and run by Access Cambridge University (ACA).