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Christchurch Paddock, 2010

The paddock was first looked at by GBH in 2004 as part of a course in Landscape Archaeology. It was thought that the earthworks were not fishponds which was the traditional local view. They were too high above the river plain and had no water source.

The purpose of the excavation was to find out if the village had extended along Dingley Road in the past and the reason for the distinct right angled hollow within the paddock.

Method  An area 40 metres x 40 metres was marked out towards the north-east of the paddock, straddling the hollow way, and all excavation work was carried out within this area.

A series of 6 pits were dug during the course of a weekend.
Pit 1 was dug to the east of the hollow way and a compacted earth surface found.
Pit 2 was dug and extended to the west of the hollow way around a large stone showing on the surface. (Illustrated) Pit 3 was dug to the south of Pit 2 to establish the extent of the cobbled surface. Pit 6 was dug to the north of Pit 2 for the same purpose.
Pits 4 and 5 were dug within the hollow way to establish if there was a stony surface forming a track.

Conclusion  Christchurch Paddock is in an area where the built village could have been in the past.  It is only about 100 metres from the Church and above the floor plain
of the River Welland.

In the 1770s it was part of a series of closes and there is no evidence that it has ever  been ploughed.  The will of Henry Shuttleworth in 1800 states that the closes were ’occupied’ by Elizabeth Clarke.  This opens up the possibility that she had a dwelling in the close.

The hollow way with its simple stony surface appears to go nowhere.  It would be a pointless diversion on Dingley Rd as the flooding problem occurs much nearer the river. There is no sign remaining in the fields beyond the cemetery that it continued eastwards to ford the river to the right of the present bridge.

Its purpose could have been as an access track to a single or several dwellings situated either side of the hollow way. It is not clear where the track joins Dingley Road.

There are further earthworks to the north of Dingley Road and directly opposite.  There appears to be a semi circular ditch which begins and ends at Dingley Road.  This could be associated with the hollows in Christchurch Paddock.  Together they would make a large oval or rectangle.

No firm evidence was found for a dwelling although the flat compacted earth surface just below the turf in Pit 1 was unusual.  One would not have expected to find this type of surface in field soil undisturbed for centuries. The majority of dateable finds associated with
this pit were medieval and suggest nearby domestic activity during the medieval period.

The stones in Pit 2 may have formed the foundation of a building, possibly a barn with cobbles forming a floor and yard area outside. A barn is mentioned in Henry Shuttleworth’s will but its exact location is not given. Pottery was found close to the principal stones and was mainly Midland Purple and Cistercian ware putting the barn’s origins in the late medieval or early post-medieval periods.  Large bore clay pipe stems suggest it was post-medieval.  If there are further foundations just below the surface it is hoped that a resistivity meter survey will reveal more archaeology in the future.