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Hall Close, East Langton


Location and History
 
This site is in the parish of East Langton, 
4 miles 
north of Market Harborough. T
he position of the site on a steep slope at the edge of the Langton Ridge offers a panoramic view of the Welland Valley from the south-east round to the west, however, it is very exposed to the elements, especially the prevailing south-westerly wind.  Along with other Langton villages it may be on the junction of the Lower and Middle Lias clays where a water supply in the form of springs seeps through at the junction of differing soils. The earthworks on this site comprise a complex series of banks and ditches that are clearly visible both on the ground and in aerial photographs.

The exact whereabouts of the 2 manors of East Langton are not known and consequently it is not certain which manor house may have stood on the investigation site, that of the first or second manor. The West Langton Estate certainly owned land within the township of East Langton before enclosure and continued to do so after enclosure

Objectives of the excavations  The site is listed on the Historical Environment Record at Leicestershire County Council as an earthwork possibly marking the position of a medieval manorial site with associated closes and field boundaries.   The object of the excavations was to confirm this theory with datable evidence and also search for evidence of a building on the mound in the north-east quarter of the field.

Aerial Photographs  A number of aerial photographs of the site have been taken in the past. In these the central mound does not appear dominant but the ditches forming the approximate square around it are very clearly defined as are further ditches and possible boundaries, particular to the south and west of the main square.

Ground level assessment  Dominating the site when viewed at ground level is the rectangular mound in the centre of the site which is of sufficient size to have been the house platform of a sizable house or hall. Beyond the mound to the north and west are comparatively flat areas before the main ditches.  The ditches are clearly defined on the north, east and west sides with less clarity to the south.  The land falls away from thesite particularly steeply towards the south with lesser slopes to the east and west.  Theland to the north continues to rise in the direction of Church Langton. In addition to the main perimeter ditches there is evidence of smaller mounds, hollows and ditches within the area enclosed by the main perimeter ditch.  Beyond this area there are further earthworks visible which may be field or close boundaries.  The visible ridge and furrow in adjacent fields stops short of this site.

Initially there were two main targets.  First was the central mound to establish its composition and investigate any evidence of walls, floors or post holes.  A total of 12 pits including a ditch cut were dug to discover any further features and to get dateable evidence in the form of pottery for the existence of an early manor on the site.

Creating the Site Drawing  Before any excavation was attempted it was decided to make a drawing of throughly square area in the north-east of the field which included the central mound. The northern boundary of this area measured approximately 63 metres, the west boundary 48 metres, the eastern boundary approximately 56 metres and the southern boundary also 56 metres. The positions of the 12 pits dug are marked on the drawing.

Conclusions  Our first objective was to look for evidence of a building on the central mound on the site.(Pit 1) We found no evidence of walls, robbed walls, postholes, drainage holes, floors, etc. Overall few artefacts were recovered from this part of the site.  However, the dry compacted nature of the top of the mound was unusual and may be evidence of a sub floor or simple foundations of an earlier building.  Several small pieces of dressed limestone were found on the site which is remote from any existing building and outside the envelope of the present village.

Our other main objective was to find dateable evidence to establish the time during which this site could have been in use as a dwelling.  The pottery has been identified. It includes one or two Roman sherds but the majority of the pieces found date from the early medieval period, including Bourne ware and Stamford ware . This includes pottery lying on the stony area (Pits 5, 6 7, 8, 10, 11 and the ditch cut at Pit 2 and also from the possible midden pit outside the main ditched area (Pit 9). 

The area of stone that covered much of the excavated site, perhaps a simple yard, could have been laid at any date. (see photograph)
 
However the
presence of pot sherds suggests that it was laid during the medieval period. Post medieval pottery was not found in association with the pits in this area suggesting that the site was abandoned early on. 

Modern pottery at Pit 12 found in the bank running NW/SE across the site suggests that this bank forms part of a later deposit.

A soil sample was examined in the flat area south of the main excavation and before the main drop into the lower part of the field.  The soil here was dark, full of organic matter unlike the soil of the excavation area.  We suggest that this area may have formed a garden in the past. 

The variable weater conditions, particularly the wind and the rain played a significant part in the drawing and excavation.