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St Mary's Allotments, Market Harborough,
August 2007

St Mary’s allotment gardens consist of a narrow strip of land, running approximately north-east/south-west to the north of the town and enclosed on all sides by modern development.  Originally it would have been part of the South field of Great Bowden open fields. Although no artefacts to support this were found during the excavation the lines of the ridge and furrow can be seen on the 1945 aerial photograph of the area.  Most of the allotments slope down towards the south but three, including the one excavated, are level forming  a plateau.

Objectives of the excavation   A number of pieces of flint had been found in recent years and also some evidence of industrial processes.  In view of this and the plateau already mentioned it was thought worthwhile to get permission to put in a test pit to establish, if possible, the extent of the flint working and any structure associated with an industrial process.

Method  A pit 1 metre x 1 metre was dug to a depth of 90 cms when the natural clay was reached.  Further flint was found including a flint flake, a possible snapped bladelet (if so Mesolithic - early Neolithic), and a small white flint with possible worked edges.  Pottery finds were from the very late medieval and early post medieval periods.

Conclusion The flint may or may not have been knapped in this location.  It could have been brought in on a hunting trip. However, the collection of flint cores found previously does give some evidence of knapping in the vicinity. The lack of clay pipes and earlier medieval pottery is interesting.  These are found on nearly all the excavations the group has undertaken.  The area was definitely under ridge and furrow but could possible have become pasture quite early in the 17th or 18th century so that pipe deposits were not made. The lack of medieval pottery can only be explained by such a small area being excavated.  No further information was gained about a previous industrial site.