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The Barn, Great Bowden, September 2005

In 2005 we undertook a series of mini digs, with just one pit, in three locations. This was the final dig in the mini dig series and took place at Knights End, one of the distinct separate areas of the village of Great Bowden which is polyfocal in character.  

The purpose of this excavation was to look for evidence of occupation of this site during the Anglo-Saxon and Danelaw periods. 

The barn had once been a 19th century brick barn part of the farm at Knights End.  The farmhouse at the top of the lane is approximately 200 years old and dairy farming, pig rearing, sheep farming and horse rearing are known to have taken place there in the past.  The pastures in this area are now used for cattle finishing.

The excavation took place at the rear of the back garden which had been part of the adjacent field until recently. No works had taken place and the area had always been grass.  The adjacent field has visible earthworks which in 2005 were considered to be possible medieval house platforms.  An excavation by our group in the paddock  in 2012 has since disproved this theory. (see Knights End Close under Excavations on the Field Index page).  It was felt we were looking at a site which had been untouched for centuries and never ploughed.

Method  A 1 metre x 1 metre pit was dug and the soil stacked according to context. There were distinct colour changes as we dug deeper and the typical yellow of the natural clay base was found at the fifth context level and a final depth of 1 metre.  Finds nearer the surface were mostly from the 18th century including creamware, Midland yellow and clay pipes.  Further down the finds were predominately medieval and in particular Lyveden Stanion ware with some Stamford ware.  In the final context there were examples of early Stamford ware and one sherd which may have been early Anglo-Saxon, Roman or even Iron Age.  It was too abraded to be certain of its date.
Conclusion  The volume of pottery found in this small area was probably too great to have been part of  manure spread and is more likely to have been deposited. The Stamford ware finds show that Knights End had been occupied either just before of just after the Norman Conquest with a possible farmstead very close to the existing farmhouse.

The excavation was carried out during increasingly difficult weather conditions and heavy rain. Mud became a problem and backfilling the pit was difficult.