A Hundred Tons of History Dug in Pirton

Since 2007, school students, archaeologists and local residents have now excavated by hand more than 100 one metre square archaeological test pits in the Hertfordshire village of Pirton. This is many more pits than in any of the other 30+ villages involved in the project.

To date, the investigation has located where the village originated in the 9th century AD, how it expanded and contracted, particularly in the centuries following the14th century Black Death, and how it expanded again from the 17th century onwards to become the village we know today, while still contracting during the 18/19th centuries in the area south of St Mary’s parish church. The latter was constructed in stone within the defences of the short-lived mid-12th century earth and timber motte and bailey castle and replaced an 11th century timber church on a different site.

Carenza says Pirton is “well on the way to becoming a classic case study”. She will be giving a talk on her project in the village in November, entitled “Pirton through time – digging a hundred tons of history”.

Many thanks to everyone who has taken part, not just the diggers and helpers, but particularly all the residents who hosted the pit locations. And not forgetting, of course, Carenza and her Cambridge team, including Cat, Paul, Jess, Clem, and all, without whom the investigation wouldn’t have happened. Test pitting will continue next year when more will be revealed about the history of this lovely and fascinating Medieval village.

From Gil Burleigh, Pirton’s Local Coordinator, who deserves much of the credit for this incredible achievement. Many thanks to him from ACA and many of the other volunteers from the North Hertfordshire Archaeological Society for their dedication over the years.

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