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Main Street, Great Bowden

This excavation was undertaken by Great Bowden Heritage and Archaeology group as part of our activities for the Festival of British Archaeology in July 2009. It was one of six 1mx1m test pits carried out at various locations in the village.

It was the last of the six to be started and was open to the public from the removal of the first turf.

1.    To give members of the public a chance to take part in a ‘live’ dig
2.    To demonstrate excavation, recording and finds processing techniques
3.    To establish some idea of how long human activity had taken place in this area of the village
4.    To identify whether further investigation in this area would be worthwhile.

The site was in the garden of one of the oldest houses in the village, near to one of three Greens which may indicate areas of early settlement. The test pit was about 3m from the rear boundary of the property, which backs on to fields. It was possible this area was part of the medieval South Field, and the theme for this dig was the Open Field system.

Excavation and Finds

All work was carried out by hand with spade, mattock and trowel. A 1mx1m square was marked out and the turf removed. The soil was removed in spits and searched for finds which were collected in trays.
A photograph of the pit was taken at the start of each context and at the end of the fourth one. The excavation stopped at a depth of 60cm as the ground was extremely compacted and no features had been revealed.
All four contexts yielded sherds of medieval to modern pottery, plus pieces of slate, glass, metal and bone. A clay pipe stem was found in the third context and a flint flake in the fourth.


1.  The presence of medieval pottery throughout the four layers suggested that this site has been subject to agricultural activity for hundreds of years. The pottery would have been spread on the medieval South Field as part of the manuring process.

2.  As the natural clay was not reached and a flint flake was found in the bottom layer, a deeper excavation may show evidence of human activity for earlier periods than the medieval.