more Anglo-Saxon life at Brightlingsea

This week, the Trust has been continuing our fieldwork at Moverons Quarry at Brightlingsea. Trust archaeologist Ben Holloway and our excavators have uncovered further evidence of Anglo-Saxon occupation on the site, which we now think represents a farmstead rather than a small settlement.

We have uncovered evidence of a prehistoric trackway and a Roman field system, and excavated two further Roman cremation burials and Roman building materials, including brick, roof tile and tile from a hypocaust (under-floor central heating system), suggesting that there is the site of a Roman villa/farmstead nearby. We have also retrieved animal bones and quite a large quantity of fragments of Anglo-Saxon pottery. This forms a good assemblage and is very interesting, as the fragments represent a wide range of pottery, from very coarse pottery through better-quality to quite good-quality pottery. The coarse pottery has voids in the fabric left by burnt-out vegetable matter, and may have been home-made. The better-quality and good-quality pottery were probably locally made. The pottery has been spot-dated to the Middle Saxon period. We also now have evidence of three definite huts (Grubenhauser) and a post-built structure, as well as a complex of pits. The finds include a large fragment of loomweight (used in weaving) and fragments of lava quernstone imported from Germany (used for grinding grain to produce flour to make bread). The quernstone fragments may date to the Roman or Anglo-Saxon period. The people who lived on this Anglo-Saxon farmstead seem to have used home-made and locally-made items and also, perhaps, some imported items.

The Roman material and the Anglo-Saxon material suggest a possible contrast between quite a high-status Roman villa/farmstead and quite a low-status Anglo-Saxon farmstead here. The Roman building/s incorporated brick, roof-tiles and central heating, while the Anglo-Saxon farmstead included huts and a post-built structure. (A Grubenhaus or ‘sunken-featured’ building consisted of a structure built over a shallow pit, and which may been used for textile-production or the storage of grain.)

The images show the loomweight fragment, some of the fragments of Anglo-Saxon pottery, and excavator Robin with the remains of the post-built structure. (Of the pottery, the fragment being held by Trust senior archaeologist Howard – on the left of the photo. – is a fragment of the coarse pottery; the group of fragments is of the better-quality pottery; and the dark fragment is of the good-quality pottery.)

 

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