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The Ridgeway, Market Harborough.  April, July 2005.

Location and History:  The Ridgeway forms part of the large post World War II residential development built on the southern slopes of the long flat-topped hill (Bowden Ridge) that today separates the town of Market Harborough from the village of Great Bowden.  This area was within Great Bowden’s fields until it was absorbed into Market Harborough in the 1920s.  It is now just outside the new parish of Great Bowden which was created in 1995.  The Ridgeway is built on the hill-top and there are extensive views over the Welland Valley and Langton Brook valley floor.  Before the modern houses were built the views would also have extended southwards.

People living on the north side of The Ridgeway had been discovering Roman pot sherds and coins in their gardens for many years.  In June 2004 Great Bowden Heritage held a collecting day for archaeological finds and a large jar of Roman pottery sherds was handed in. In a neighbouring property one of the group’s members had also discovered Roman pottery and, associated with these, a stone structure which the County Council’s Heritage Services thought could have been a simple floor or a collapsed wall.  The family had already made some attempt to excavate this structure.

Method - 1st Excavation 16th April 2005.
The area of the stones was excavated further and measured approximately 3 metres x 2 metres.  The stones were roughly cut and arranged in straight lines but it was felt they were unlikely to have been a floor surface.  Beneath the stones it appeared to be natural clay or possibly a clay floor. A possible post hole was excavated at the north-east corner. 

In addition there was a damp area in the north-west corner containing a lot of organic matter. This may have been a drain and after further excavation water seeped into the hole. There were many pottery sherds, a large proportion dating from the Roman period.

A further 1 metre x 1 metre test pit was dug and again produced Roman finds.  The natural clay was reached at about 60 cms depth.

A small amount of medieval and post medieval pottery was found in both locations probably deposited as manure spread when this area was under ridge and furrow cultivation as part of the South Field of Great Bowden’s open fields.  Total numbers of finds are given at the end of this site report.

Method - 2nd Excavation 9th July 2005. This excavation was carried out as part of Time Team’s Big Roman Dig on Channel 4. Three further test pits were dug in different parts of the garden and all yielded Iron Age and Roman pottery with small quantities of Anglo-Saxon, medieval and post medieval.
We concluded that this site was part of the known township on this hill-top which lasted throughout the Roman period indicated by the finds from all four centuries of the occupation.

Finds  (total found on the site during both excavations and previously by the owners)
Knapped flint = 3
Late Iron Age/Early Roman (1c AD) = 18 (shellyware, grog tempered ware, hard grogged ware)
Roman = 103 (Samian, Lower Nene valley colour coated, Oxford red colour coated, Oxford ware mortarium, Mancetter-Hartshill mortarium, Northants white ware, white ware, Porchester D ware, oxidised wares, greyware, pale greyware from lower Nene valley, black burnished ware, late Roman shellyware)
Early Anglo-Saxon = 2 (Rock tempered and unspecified)
Early Medieval = 9 (Stamford ware, Lyveden Stanion oolitic and shelly, sandy ware)
Late Medieval = 2 (Midland purple)
Post Medieval = 25 (stoneware, mottled ware, various earthenwares, clay pipes)
Undated  = 2 bone (including red deer antler)