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Villagers dig into history of Clavering Castle



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Villagers aged eight to 81 completed a 10-day archaeological dig at Clavering's castle.

Under the direction of landscape archaeologist Simon Coxall, more than 40 members of Clavering Landscape History Group excavated a long trench in what was once the outer bailey. They were helped by members of the Warboys Archaeological Project.

The dig concluded with an open day for villagers to come and see the trench and its finds, and hear a talk by Mr Coxall on the discoveries made during the week. There were also archaeology activities for children.

The Clavering Landscape History Group diggers. Picture: Peter Blomley (49707671)
The Clavering Landscape History Group diggers. Picture: Peter Blomley (49707671)

Group co-ordinator Jacqueline Cooper, who is also the parish's local history recorder and editor of Saffron Walden Historical Journal, said: "It was a very exciting project and more than fulfilled what we hoped for from this community dig. Simon Coxall had previously done a geophysical survey of the field so we knew where to look.

"The story of the field's history gradually emerged during the week as we scraped away the soil of centuries – how the ancient course of the river attracted early peoples to this site as far back as the Stone Age, reflected in finding many Mesolithic and Neolithic worked flints; how its proximity to a Roman road related to the finding of Roman potsherds and a broken quernstone; and how in the Middle Ages it became part of the outer bailey of Clavering Castle full of workaday buildings. Lots of animal bones appeared.

"We also discovered a wide trackway that would once have been how the peasants went to the castle to pay their dues, and there were foundations of old buildings which had been robbed out to be used elsewhere in the village, as the castle fell into disuse in the 16th century. Eventually, it reverted to grassland as we see today."

Finds, including animals bones and potsherds, from the Clavering Castle dig (49707694)
Finds, including animals bones and potsherds, from the Clavering Castle dig (49707694)

Permission from landowners John and Janet Hosford made the excavations possible. The next step is to produce a report and create an exhibition.

Jacqueline added: "We would like to thank Cllr Edward Oliver and the Uttlesford District Council Community Fund for financial assistance towards the costs of the dig."

Dave Monk at the Clavering Castle dig (49707669)
Dave Monk at the Clavering Castle dig (49707669)
Earthworks at Clavering Castle (49707700)
Earthworks at Clavering Castle (49707700)
The dig team at work (49707696)
The dig team at work (49707696)
Barbara Dulley and Peter Patrick (49707698)
Barbara Dulley and Peter Patrick (49707698)


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