Test pit 1 (BRR/16/1)  This page is still under constrcution - see entry under Digs on the Ridge main title page

Test Pit 1 (BRR/16/1)      Leics County Council Accession No.X.A46.2016

Grid Reference: SP733 884   Date of excavation: 11 June 2016 Burnmill Road 











Central part of Bowden Ridge, looking South (R.C)
 This test pit excavation was carried out by Great Bowden Heritage & Archaeology in the back garden of a house at the summit of Burnmill Road approximately at the centre of the Bowden Ridge area of study. The immediate area is rich in artefacts recovered through excavation or field walking and covering all
historic periods from prehistoric to post medieval.


The site lies on the northern limit of residential development in Market Harborough approximately 1Km from the town centre at an altitude of approximately 123 metre.  The highest point of the ridge lies 450 metre to the north-west, altitude 130 metre.  The front garden of the property slopes steeply downwards to Burnmill Road and the back garden has a gradual slope upwards and westwards.  The area of the lawn where the test pit was dug was level and probably has remained untouched since the house was built in 1962.



 Profile of the hill at Burnmill Road - property is at the summit (J.C)

Below approximately 25cm of topsoil the overlying geology of glacial till was revealed. This concurs with the British Geological Survey’s maps for the area and their description as follows: Till, Mid Pleistocene - Diamicton.  Deposits formed up to 2 million years ago.  Formed in cold periods with
Ice Age glaciers scouring and depositing sand and gravel deposits.

The pit was dug to a depth of 60 cm and as no finds had been recovered beyond a depth of 40 cm the excavation was halted.  The underlying bedrock geology had not been reached.  This is described by BGS as: Dyrham Formation, siltstone & mudstone 183-190 million yearsold, formed in shallow seas in the Jurassic Period.

The glacial till was compressed hard clay with numerous inclusions of flints of a variety of colours and lumps of chalk ranging from small fragments to nodules of approximately 15 cm long.  There weremany very small flint flakes, showing no sign of knapping but possibly broken up as a result of the violent glacial action by the ice in the past.






 Sample of small flints found throughout the excavation

Before Enclosure in 1776 this area would have been part of the West field of the Open Fields of Great Bowden. Although the map at Enclosure has been lost we are attempting to identify the furlong
names in the West field.  Currently there is no furlong name that can be confidently attached to this area.

The site is 240 metre north-west of Waterfield Place MLE19107 a mid to late Iron Age settlement excavated by ULAS in 2011. The Roman township at the eastern end of The Ridgeway is approximately
720 metre away with numerous Roman finds under MLE1948,   and MLE16380, MLE16564,MLE16561, MLE16562 (all with Grid Ref.SP740881). The arable fields to the north and north-east have been field walked by Great Bowden Heritage. Finds in the following fields range from prehistoric to

Chater’s Hill, 200 metre north, Webbs Meadow 330 metre north-west MLE17042, Russell Seeds, 480 metre north, MLE17040, MLE17041, MLE1999, (Lower) Green’s Hill, 400 metre north-east, MLE 19892, MLE19893,
MLE19894.  Summaries of these field walking surveys can be found this website, and on the Historic Environment Record for Leicestershire.

Historically the area was part of Great Bowden until it was incorporated into Market Harborough. The parish of Great Bowden regained its status as an independent parish in 1995 but this area remained under the
authority of the town of Market Harborough.

A test pit, 1 metre x 1 metre was dug in 10 cm contexts in the lawn in the back garden.
The pit was photographed before the start of each context and the spoil was sieved or broken up into small pieces to extract any finds.  When it was considered that the natural had been reached the sections were
photographed and the pit was backfilled replacing the soil in the correct order and finally replacing the turf.  The finds have been photographed, and identification of the pottery verified by an expert
before being returned to the safe-keeping of the property owners.  A documentary archive will be placed in the care of Leicestershire County Council and data passed to the Historic Environment Record.

Context 1 was dug to a depth of 10 cm and consisted of a mid brown friable loam with a few finds including modern pottery, and small fragments of brick, glass and coal. Small unworked flint was already appearing.

Context 2 was dug to a depth of 15 cm from the surface and continue to be mid brown loam but with an increased number of small stones.  Roman and late medieval pottery sherds were found, with some clinker, sooted stone and coal and further tiny unworked flint pieces.

Context 3 was dug to a depth of 30 cm from the surface.  The soil in this context changed from the loam to a more sticky clay and contained a mixture of Roman and modern pottery and a hand made pot rim possibly
from the early Roman period, proving this area was disturbed, possibly when the house was built and the garden laid out in the 1960s. Finds included pottery, modern glass, clay pipe stems, clinker brick and burnt

Context 4 confirmed the disturbed nature of this pit with Victorian pottery alongside glass, a nail brick and coal.

The finds from contexts 5 and 6 were natural flint and fossils.

The heavy compacted clay and chalk with numerous stones was increasingly difficult to excavate by hand and the excavation was halted at the top of context 7 and the pit backfilled.  It was assumed that the soil in
the last three contexts was the glacial till and was natural as no finds were excavated.  







Section photograph at 60 cm showing geology.

R C   30th June 2016
See also Bowden Ridge Research page; sub-page Romans on the Ridge