Between the 25th and the 29th of June, ACA with Managing a Masterpiece and funded by the HLF opened three trenches on Bures Common in Essex, which had recently been purchased by the local residents for use by the community. Many thanks go to Leigh Alston who organised the whole dig, in which the idea was to try and locate an old watercourse that previously stretched across the common as well as the old ducking pond that was filled in by the locals some time in the 19th century. The common is also thought to have been the site of the the medieval market area for the village.
Between 25-35 volunteers each day attended the dig and there were various members of the public stopping to see what we were up to, perhaps due to the fact that one of our trenches was right next to the road! Each morning we were also visited by different classes from Bures Primary School, who helped us search for any missed finds and were also there to make sure they were nice and clean. On the Wednesday evening we extended our working hours till 7pm which allowed those to take part who couldn’t make it during the normal working day. We were also very lucky that most afternoons the ice cream van also stopped right next to site!
After a lot of digging (and shovelling), the archaeology suggested that the route of the old watercourse has been identified and had also later been deliberately filled in with large cobbles, bricks, tile and pieces of scrap metal. Layers of silts were also recorded, suggesting that the common has been prone to much flooding over the years, but in the deeper (and wetter) deposits that were excavated, possible worked wood has survived in the clays. This will be sent away for analysis before the results are published on our website. Other exciting finds include a ring/earring (the debate is still ongoing) towards the base of trench 3 as well as less old metal scales, part of a shovel and a large spoon! We also did find a few pieces of medieval pottery and a large quantity of animal bone.
Many thanks to all of the volunteers who took part, with further thanks also to The Eight Bells pub for opening their doors early for us and all the residents of Bures who helped us out with refreshments.