Time to Dig
Watching Time Team is one of the great pleasures of life. Almost uniquely amongst popular TV programs, the producers assemble real experts in their field. For the local historian, it is like seeing the inhabitants of mount Olympus. Can that really be Carenza Lewis, who wrote the fascinating book 'Village, Hamlet and Field on the way that settlements evolved in Central england, and the rise of the nucleated village? Can that be be Professor Micheal Aston whose book 'Interpreting the Landscape' is the bible of landscape archaeologists? Beyond and behind them, one sees a glimpse of a Middle England that one thought had passed away; of communities, goodwill, an interest in the locality, and fascination in the past. Schoolchildren with eager and excited faces, scrubbing away at bits of brick and stone with toothbrushes. Glorious.
If Time Team knocked on the door here and asked if they could have a bit of a dig, where would one point them? I suppose I am a bit spoilt having a round barrow at the end of the garden and a house mentioned in the domesday book, but there are sites near here that I'm aching to see investigated
On a conspicuous raised platform in the Stour Valley, is a fascinating site that gives every appearance of being a mediaeval moated house. In fact, there are two platforms, and what look like fishponds, overlaid by the later drainage channels for the victorian osier beds. The site is striking on aerial photographs too. Fieldwalking reveals a mass of chalk and broken rooftiles, sharply broken (the worn ones got deposited in fields with the manure). The odd thing is that I can find no record of a mediaeval house in the records office, and it is not marked on any map. It could, of course be a barn used for the Osier-farming, but then the layout looks much more like domestic habitation. Now, what a fascinating program that would make!