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Pancake Hill Archaeological Project (East Bridgford, Nottinghamshire): Introduction

East Bridgford stands on the south-east bank of the Trent in the southern half of the county, approximately 10 miles north-east of Nottingham and about the same distance south-west of Newark. The area is one of high prehistoric and Roman activity, with East Bridgford lying only a short distance from the Fosse Way and from the Roman fort of Margidunum. Although there is currently no evidence for such early settlement on the site that developed into East Bridgford, the remains of a Saxon cross discovered at the church, together with the Domesday Book reference, indicate that a thriving community had become well established before the conquest.

The settlement appears to have continued to prosper, profiting not only from its location in a fertile, densely populated area in the Trent Valley, but also from its position at a crossing point of the Trent as, already in the 11th century, it was linked with Gunthorpe on the other side of the river via a ford and a ferry. This position was important enough to warrant the construction of a small castle overlooking the crossing. By the early 14th century East Bridgford had acquired a market charter and at some point its layout was deliberately reorganised into regulated plots along a grid of streets, cottagers along one, husbandmen along another. The hope may have been that East Bridgford would succeed with its market and develop into a town; however, this did not happen. There is no evidence that the market survived beyond the 14th century, or that East Bridgford was ever more than a village. It suffered further during the population crises of the 17th century, and only began to expand beyond its medieval limits in the later 20th century with the construction of commuter housing. As a result, the village has retained much of its historic street pattern and rural character.

Most of the parish of East Bridgford lies on the Mercia Mudstone which forms the higher north-western edge of the Vale of Belvoir, with the land falling away sharply to the alluvium of the Trent floodplain. The Trent at this point flows along the easternmost side of its valley. The village itself is situated along the ridge parallel to the valley, the church in particular standing on an imposing site, at about 46m AOD. The ground continues to rise very gently eastwards to c. 49m AOD along College Street then down again further east to c. 46m AOD at Cross Lane.

(Text: Gill Stroud)

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