Archaeology of a Medieval Village Found Beneath New Village Development in Norfolk
Draper Gardens in the village of Gayton, west Norfolk is a new development of residential property available for shared ownership and to rent by Freebridge Community Housing. The development required the discharge of a planning condition relating to archaeology, and prior to construction, Wardell Armstrong conducted an archaeological trial-trench excavation, which demonstrated the presence of significant archaeology, followed by an open area archaeological excavation to fully record and analyse the remains.
The archaeological excavation revealed numerous medieval property boundaries and artefacts that indicate that this historic village once had a footprint larger than the present day. The property boundaries, which included post-built buildings, were dated by the presence of pottery fragments and radiocarbon dating of charred cereal grains, which demonstrated that occupation had commenced before the Norman Conquest of 1066 AD, potentially around 1000 AD. In addition to buildings, the enclosures contained a pottery kiln of particular significance, because it forms part of the notable Grimston pottery industry whose products, including cooking pots, jugs and bowls were exported across much of East Anglia. Many of the cooking pots had been extensively used with soot and charred food residue on their interior, likely associated with vegetable rich stews, as well as numerous butchered pig remains, whose meat may have been cured and used sparingly. Also present was a water cistern or well, lined with massive oak timbers, and evidence for ‘retting’ the processing of the crop flax to produce plant fibres used to make clothes. Other domestic items included iron knives associated with a hone or sharpening stone made of Norwegian ragstone, while decorative items included glass beads from decorative jewellery.
Wardell Armstrong were delighted to return to the development which launched last month, and was officially opened by the Member of Parliament for North West Norfolk, James Wild. Associate Director, Andrew Peachey hosted a display of artefacts from the site and discussed the archaeology of the project with prospective new residents, the village community, and dignitaries from the local and district council, James Wild MP and executives from Freebridge Community Housing.