This year we returned to the rose garden (the site of the south west corner of the old house) in an attempt to tie the house, garden features & wider landscape together. When we set out our trenches we knew there were some small walls in the area but we did not expect the substantial number that soon came to light.
Running north to south was a small garden wall only a few inches thick and likely to be part of a much later garden, while investigating this wall we discovered that it sits on top of a much earlier wall that is over a metre wide & 20 courses deep. Another wall appeared to the west of the first and after a few feet turned west to form a right-angle. This wall seems to stand on a much larger and noticeably better built earlier wall. Between the two we found what seemed to be a floor but on further investigation has turned out to be a culvert or large drain. We also have another wall running east west & several buttresses & a raised brick built socket which may be associated with the other drains we also found.
Much of this archaeology came as an exciting and fascinating surprise. With this new material to study, it may be some time before we can fully understand the structures and interpret them in relation to the house.
Outside of the trenches, off site work continues as I recently took the worked flint we have excavated over the years to Hazel Martingale (one of the country’s most respected specialists) and she confirmed the presence of Mesolithic tools dating from 10,000- 4000 BC.
What came as a surprise was that she also identified a number of artefacts from the Upper Palaeolithic period, between 40,000- 10,000 BC. She suggested that given the range and condition of the tools that the Copped Hall ridge may have been where they were made and not just the site of casual loss.
The Upper Palaeolithic is the period when Modern Humans replaced the Neanderthal as the masters of Northern Europe. What part did Copped Hall play in that story? These finds can be seen on display in the Archaeology room, so come and see them next time you visit the house.
The main north to south wallphoto: Lee Joyce
A 'Taster Weekend' course in actionphoto: Lee Joyce
A dolium shard from a very large Roman grain jar often buried in the groundARCHAEOLOGY REPORT 2015
This Year the Copped Hall Trust Archaeology Project will be doing a lot of work on the archive material that has been collected from our excavations over the last few years. This is something that is vital to all archaeology projects as the detailed study of the artefacts, coupled with the details kept in the excavation records, allows us to see more of the picture. Artefacts tell us a lot about what has happened in the past and add detail to the story as well as focusing questions for further research. For instance, what was happening here in the Roman period? Well we have Roman pottery including some very large shards and in numbers greater than you might expect for just background noise but perhaps the best hint so far is the Iron Age/Roman loomweight. These are large objects and are rarely found more than 100 yards or so from a dwelling.
We will be back in the Rose Garden and, along with some targeted excavations, we will be undertaking a lot of technical drawing of the standing remains (walls) including sectional drawings.
We will also be continuing our scientific work on the environmental samples from the site, allowing us to look at past vegetation & diet among many other things. This will be of particular interest when we investigate the, as yet not fully identified, ditch-like feature under the dovecote, which has been dated by the pottery it contains to the 11th-13thC.
As usual we are offering 5 day training courses (Field Schools) for those who have dug before and taster weekends which are ideal for the novice. We have a large team on hand to help and guide you through. Do not be afraid to ask if you want to learn something specific – we will try to oblige.
Old Copt Hall – overhead view of the south west cellar walls – photogrammetry