This is a Preliminary Report of the Recent Exploratory Excavations Undertaken by Members
of NEAT at Backwell Park.

A few pictures can be seen in the Gallery section

With the approval of the landowner, Mr. Chris Wyatt, on Wednesday 7th of December, NEAT members excavated three test pits at
Backwell Park. The intention was to locate dating evidence of (1) the main dwelling and associated buildings shown on the 1787 map and (2) any earlier structures that may exist. Richard Ivens chose three target areas for investigation.

Mr. Wyatt generously machined the topsoil off the three pits. Hand excavation was carried out in ‘spits’ or layers of 20 cm, unless a new feature or context was uncovered, in which case a new spit, with a new number, was started immediately. Thus, not every spit necessarily reaches its full depth of 20 cm and because this is archaeology nothing is ever straightforward. A ‘spit’ can contain features e.g. cuts, pits, postholes, robber trenches etc and/or contexts e.g. deposits, skeletons, coffins, some forms of masonry etc. Each feature or context must be recorded and given a unique number, just as for the spit, so at a later date it should be possible to identify its original stratigraphic position in spit, pit or trench. In this short preliminary report, for brevity and as excavation is ongoing, only a basic description of each spit is given.

 

Test Pit 1.

Spit 1 and 2 were in fact mostly machined off but could be clearly seen in north and south sections, or sides, of the pit.

Spit 1. (10cm thick) This was a horizontal layer, dark brown, blackish topsoil, very clean and devoid of rubble.

Spit 2. (15cm
thick) Subsoil- was not as dark as Spit 1 and contained quantities of small stone rubble mixed with broken roofing tile.

Spit 3.
(8cm) This consisted of a sandy, silty, with clay deposit, which contained quantities of coal, charcoal and lime mortar. 


Spit 4.
(18cm) Flat stones. The removal of Spit 3 revealed a layer of flat stones covering the whole pit area and seemingly extending under the north and south sections. A number of oyster shells and a piece of animal bone (as yet unidentified) were found mixed in with the stones.

Spit 5.
(20+ cm) Natural clay. Under Spit 4 was a deposit of natural clay into which the ‘stone floor’ was ‘embedded’. A sondage in the west corner of the pit found natural clay extending to below spade depth.

Further investigation is required in this area, especially the extent of the stone ‘floor’.

 

Test Pit 2.
Minimal topsoil

Spit 1. (4cm) This was a horizontal deposit of mixed coarse ash and cinders.

Spit 2. (25 cm) This consisted of a horizontal deposit of quarry waste, small to medium size stones.

Spit 3. (10 cm) A deposit of shale like coal waste (numerous fossils).

Spit 4. (15 cm) A deposit of limestone and sandstone rubble spread across the entire pit area.

Spit 5. (20+ cm) A sondage in west corner of pit found natural clay extending to below spade depth.

This pit has been recorded and backfilled with no further investigation proposed at this time. It would appear to contain evidence of a number of successive layers, deposited in order to create some form of hard-core yard area. Date unknown.

 
Test Pit 3.

Spit 1. (20 cm) Plough soil with occasional roof tile fragments.

Spit 2. (20 cm)  Subsoil with increasing amounts of tile, ash and glass slag/ clinker. Some orange glaze pottery shards mixed in.

Spit 3. (10 cm) This is much the same as Spit 2, with some larger nodules of clinker and glass slag.

Spit 4. (20 cm) This spit revealed natural clay, which showed as a diagonal cut running from the west to the south sections and possibly extending underneath them. The cut was well defined and very noticeable against the darker clinker/ glass slag material. By the bottom of the spit the clinker/glass slag fill had disappeared leaving natural clay. It was possible to see in the vertical north section the horizontal interface between natural clay and infill. It would appear that a large ‘pit’ has been excavated in the clay at some time and refilled with the material found in Spit 2 and 3.

 
This pit has been recorded and back filled with no further investigation proposed at this time. Date unknown. Dating the pottery with the orange glaze may give some indication.
     

Further excavations are planned and certainly Test Pit 1 with the possible ‘stone floor’, the animal bone and oyster shell should be extended.

 

On the day the NEAT TEAM consisted of the following ‘diggers’, who all worked extremely hard---

Richard Ivens.

Tony Target.

Eileen Lewis.

Dave Hodgson.

Dave Sowdon.

Brian Irwin.
 

It was a very cold and blustery day, but made bearable for those who partook of the refreshments, kindly supplied by the ‘Ivens
Family Home Cooking Company (Apple Crumble a House Speciality)’.