Pirton Bank Holiday Test Pitting

Here’s the latest news from Pirton Local History Group, who have the incredible accolade of being the ACA village to have dug the most archaeological test pits. They reached their 100th pit in October 2011 thanks to the efforts of HEFA participants and local residents and volunteers, and Gil Burleigh and his volunteers have continued adding to this total over the past few weekends.

“Nearly 20 volunteers helped dig 3 test pits in Pirton over the bank holiday weekend. TP1 was sited in the garden of the oldest house in the village on Great Green. The house has a late medieval crown-post roof and now comprises half of the original hall and one cross-wing; the other half of the hall and second cross-wing having been demolished in the early 19th century, probably. The pit was positioned over the site of the demolished cross-wing and located its floor, but the overlying contexts were very disturbed by gardening activity.

Our second test pit was in another garden on Great Green and revealed, in the lowest three contexts, uncontaminated Medieval ocupation, including Saxo-Norman pottery.

The third pit we excavated was in St Mary’s Close, our first TP in that road. We uncovered a long sequence of occupation on what had been part of the historic Middle Green and Middle Farm yard. Our hard-working team dug the pit to a depth of 1.5m, by excavating a quadrant another 0.30m below the 1.20m level where we’d normally stop. At 1.5m we were still in archaeological deposits, but auguring located the natural clay only 0.10m below that depth. This is the deepest of the 111 test pits that have been excavated in Pirton village to date. The lowest eight contexts yielded undisturbed Medieval material – the earliest being Saxo-Norman, including a shelly-ware vessel represented by its intact rim, neck and shoulder. Another find from the same pit that pleased both diggers and hosts was a silver shilling of William III.

Thanks go to all the dedicated volunteers and to our generous pit hosts.

An update: last weekend we excavated another TP (number 112) in the garden of Pirton’s oldest house and found a series of gravel, chalk and clay surfaces (perhaps a barn?), the earlies of which yielded 12/13/14th century potsherds, including some high-quality glazed pieces. The natural clay was reached at 0.90m.”

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