Clare Castle excavations, end of Day 4

It’s been another very good day’s excavation in Clare:

Trench A has finally, after herculean efforts by everyone involved, managed to remove nearly 1m of debris left from the building, use and demolition of the railway line through the site of the castle in Clare. The southern end of the trench has a redundant pipe running through it, so efforts are focussing on the rest of the trench where modern disturbance isn’t quite so deep (but still pretty deep and very solid).  Around 15 square metres of the trench are now cleared down the top of a layer free of modern debris which a sondage showed to contain late medieval pottery including locally made Hedingham ware. We are hopeful this area may now begin to reveal its medieval secrets.  The ‘Rubble without a cause’ trench seems finally to be sorting itself out….

Trench B really has produced something of everything, with lots of Thetford Ware pottery (c. 850-1100 AD), animal bone and oyster shell found above and within a feature which, when it first appeared this morning, looked like a large pit.  By the end of the day, it was looking  as if it might be the remains of a structure, possibly with a stone-packed post hole cut into a linear feature.  We’ll look at this further as the dig progresses. A couple of fragments of thick roof tile of Roman date and two sherds of Bronze Age pottery suggest that the Thetford Ware feature may overlie, or cut into,  even earlier archaeology.  Not bad for  a spot where it was quite possible that all pre-modern remains had been removed by the railway works.


Trench C has been the toughest for the team seeking to find out if there is any evidence for a medieval garden in this part of the site.  In a low-lying area it is still quite muddy from Friday’s rain, even after two days of sun.  At the moment it looks as if we may have the remains of a curving flint-faced embanked walkway which curved around a shallow circular pond.  Elizabeth de Burgh’s household accounts record expenditure for her garden on glass houses and fountains, and the tenacious team who have stuck with Trench C really deserve to find some trace of these!  However, the answers as to what this area really was used for may ultimately come from the microscope rather than the mattock if waterlogged deposits are revealed which preserve seeds and other plant remains which will show what grew here…


Trench D has been a bit of a tease, as it’s not easy to tell whether the flint rubble (around the area which produced all that beautiful painted glass) is the foundations of an in situ medieval building wall, or a ‘robber trench’ backfilled with loose rubble after everything that could be reused had been carted away.  Further excavation is needed here, which will of course continue tomorrow!

And as before, we have been delighted to welcome droves of visitors to the site – I am giving guided tours of the trenches every day at 12.30 and 3.30 when you can see the archaeology and find out the latest news and views on what they are revealing. And I must apologise to Clare Antiques Centre (who have kindly enabled us to blog from site and have been so welcoming) for mistyping their website address in Thursday’s post.  It is, of course,


Please keep your finger crossed for more great archaeology (and ideally  weather to match!) – and do come and visit us if you can.


Carenza Lewis

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