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


Magnetometry was used across the full survey area, while resistivity was used in the surviving earthwork areas. The results were dramatic to say the least, and it soon became apparent that there were a significant number of geophysical anomalies around the earthworks. Some of these were undoubtedly post-medieval field boundaries, others were probably palaeochannels or pipelines, but there were also a number of curving ditches and enclosures that looked likely to have a relationship with the castle.


Following the geophysical survey, the project team of locals and NCC archaeologists began fieldwalking. This yielded in excess of 700 artefacts which were logged and recorded. Analysis of these finds pointed to the presence of post-medieval activity on or near the site, possibly connected with a summer house recorded on George Sanderson’s map of 1835. There were a large number of finds of medieval pottery and metalworking slag. Perhaps most surprising were the Roman and prehistoric artefacts, which included Roman grey wares and a Bronze Age flint thumbnail scraper.


During September 2006 an evaluation excavation took place at East Bridgford based on the results of the fieldwalking and geophysical surveys. As both surveys had proved the presence of buried archaeological remains clustering around the earthworks of Pancake Hill, it was important to attempt to assess the relationship of these features to the earthworks. Analysis of the historic maps of the area going back as far as an estate map of 1612 identified some of the geophysical anomalies as post-medieval field boundaries, some of which had survived into the second half of the 20th century. These were not targeted by the evaluation. The evaluation trenches concentrated on four key areas; a single trench stretching from the south-eastern limit of the site into the middle of the field, taking in a number of features (Trench 1 - Fig. 60); the palaeochannels in the lower field (Trenches 5 and 6 - Fig. 61); an area of high magnetic readings to the east of the earthworks (Trench 4 - Fig. 62); and an area close to the earthworks which seemed to be enclosed by a substantial ditch (Trench 2 – Colour Plate 5).

The excavation was carried out by the project team and volunteers from across Nottinghamshire under the direction of the University of Leicester Archaeological Services. The four areas all yielded differing results. The palaeochannels tested in Trenches 5 and 6 proved to be either ephemeral or buried extremely deeply. Two trenches were archaeologically barren. Trench 1 contained a number of features relating to probably post-medieval agricultural activity, but there was also a significant dump of Roman material, including flue tiles from a hypocaust and Samian pottery. The Roman material is likely to relate to a high status property, the site of which has not yet been identified. Trench 4 revealed evidence for industrial metalworking at a seemingly commercial level. A number of slag crucible bottoms were recovered as well as many pottery shards of medieval date. Perhaps most illuminating was a fragment of Stamford ware pottery and a small penannular brooch, both dating to between the 9th and 12th centuries. Trench 2 proved the most difficult to interpret. It contained made ground of seemingly different geology from the other trenches. A number of post holes of unknown date were cut into this ground, suggesting some kind of structures. In the later medieval period a large bank and ditch had then been thrown up, only to be levelled later. One project volunteer found a continuation of this ditch surviving as a pronounced earthwork on the hillside down to the fields by the Trent.
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