Avenells Manor Interim Report 2014

Avenells Manor Fieldwalking

On Sunday 28th September 2014, GamArch continued its exploration of Avenells field, extending the area investigated last year.  Julia Manley organised the afternoon, and supervised the involvement of nine GamArch members, and has supplied the following description of our ‘day out’

Avenells is the first field on the right as you leave the village heading east along Church End, so called because it was the site of Avenells Manor, now destroyed. The land is owned by Merton College who first gave GamArch permission to walk it in the Autumn of 2013 and we are grateful to the farmer for allowing us access before sowing.

Last year, we laid out a grid of 5×5 20m² squares running east across the field (i.e. squares A and F running alongside the road) starting from a point (GPS co-ordinate recorded) in the north-western corner of the field, but only managed to cover rows A – D in the limited time. We therefore covered row E first of all this year and then started a new row F which took us to the old field boundary opposite the allotment site entrance:-

A1 A2 A3 A4 A5 F1 F2 F3 F4
B1 B2 B3 B4 B5
C1 C2 C3 C4 C5
D1 D2 D3 D4 D5
E1 E2 E3 E4 E5

In 2013 we recovered nearly 500 finds, all fragmented and abraded, the majority of which were ceramic building material (CBM), predominantly tile, followed by worked flint (dating back to the Neolithic and the Bronze Ages) and then pottery sherds, one of which was Roman and the rest ranged from early Medieval through to modern and included fragments of Everton ware. The spread of finds was greatest in row A and decreased as we moved south down the field with about 3 times as many finds in row A compared with row D.

We have not finished cataloguing the finds from our 2014 field walking but those from row E are of a similar number, if not fewer, than those from row D.

The conditions were far from favourable this year: due to the lack of rain the field was like a desert and covered in dry dusty sand which made it very difficult to identify finds when we were walking row E. However, we did not have the same problem in row F because the spread of finds was so dense that we were unable to collect them all. Concentrated mostly in squares F1 and F2, but also to both the north and south of the row, the ground was littered with CBM, almost all in the form of roof tiles, together with some worked flint, pottery sherds and some glass and metal items.

The presence of so many fragments of roof tiles could indicate the site of one or more buildings; we shall know more when we have finished cataloguing the finds and have identified the age of the tiles and whether they are all from the same period.

We hope to carry on with the field walking in the Autumn of 2015 and shall keep you informed of our discoveries. We would also welcome any of you who are interested in getting involved, it is a very large field!