Continuation of SVCA’s Inaugural Excavation at Goldingham Hall

Continuation of SVCA's Inaugural Excavation at Goldingham HallMembers of the recently formed Stour Valley Community Archaeology (SVCA) continued their archaeological investigation of Goldingham Hall with supervision from ACA last week.

SVCA organised and ran their first archaeological excavations at Goldingham Hall, near Bulmer in Suffolk, at the end of May, continuing the excavation of three trenches (A-C) opened the previous October. The aim of their three day dig this September was to open another two trenches (D and E), close to those already dug, in order to shed further light on the posthole and ditch features identified by the landowner, Ashley Cooper, seventeen years ago and confirmed by a geophysical survey conducted by David and Aline Black in 2013. Goldingham Hall is documented in the Domesday Book as the site of a medieval manor and the programme of community excavations so far have revealed a range of features dating from the 10th to the later 14th century AD relating to a late Anglo-Saxon early Norman manorial complex.

As part of the Heritage Lottery Funded Managing a Masterpiece project, Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA) ran two fieldwalking events, over two days, at the start of November 2012 at Goldingham Hall. ACA subsequently ran the first community excavations on the same field site last October, which was the final event of Managing a Masterpiece. Inspired by their participation in these activities and others run by ACA along the Stour Valley over the three and a half years of the landscape partnership project, a group of committed volunteers formed a new community archaeology society to continue providing fieldwork opportunities in the area, beginning at Goldingham Hall under the patronage of Ashley Cooper and Dr Carenza Lewis, Director of ACA.

Cat Ranson, ACA’s archaeological supervisor, was on site from Wednesday 10th to Saturday 13th September 2014, to help supervise the excavation and recording of the two new trenches, with assistance from the growing expertise of SVCA members. Dr Carenza Lewis also visited the site on Friday and during their open day for members of the public on Sunday 14th September, with tours led by Ashley Cooper and Julie Thomson of SVCA. Pupils from Bulmer St Andrew’s Primary School joined the excavations on Friday and took an active part in the activities including digging, sieving and finds-washing with help from Jane Crone and Ellie Mead, SVCA members and founders of Travels in Time, an organisation that introduces archaeology to primary aged children through hands-on activities.

Wednesday was spent opening the trenches and volunteers were on site for three full days of digging from Thursday before final recording took place on Sunday. Trench D, parallel and west of C, was dug to see whether the large storage pits and gully, or possible beam slot, found in the latter extended in that direction. Beam slots as well as postholes, some overlapping, were found in association with a lot of medieval pottery in trench D which seems to indicate that a couple of large buildings stood here, which may have been later re-built on the same plan. A relatively high status artefact, a Jew’s harp, as well as some early horseshoe nails, were also found in this trench.

In trench E, north-west of A, a black-fill ditch was found with several stake holes at the bottom. Some fragments of a mill stone made of igneous rock were found, perhaps relating to the bread ovens found earlier in trench A. Two postholes were found parallel to the ditch and a discrete pit and a posthole elsewhere in the trench. Another ditch found in trench E had been back-filled and was overlain with large flint cobbles packed by clay. This ditch and the occupation layer was cut by another curved ditch (shown right, being excavated) which requires further investigation in order to determine the phasing and relationship between them and the other features in this trench.

Last week’s excavations revealed further evidence for a multi-phase medieval manorial site with a structural land use to the south-east nearer the main residence and an industrial land use to the north-west where food processing took place. Updated daily by SVCA’s chair, Laure Bonner, the SVCA blog has more information about the volunteers involved and discoveries made on site last week, which you can read here.

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