Deserted Medieval Settlement east of Oversley Castle
The site of a deserted settlement of Medieval date within the outer enclosure of Boteler's Castle, suggested by earthworks and a scatter of pottery sherds. Evidence suggests that it was abandoned by the mid thirteenth century. The site lies 200m east of Oversley Castle.
1 A small U-sectioned feature, 2m wide and 1.5m deep (N section), 1.7m wide and 1.2m deep (S section) and lying NW/SE. It was cut through from a cobbled layer lying 0.8m below ground surface. The fill was stiff dark orange brown sandy loam containing small pieces of charcoal, animal bone and body sherds. The pottery was unglazed cooking pot with largish white shiny gruts. The pottery is C13, with perhaps some sherds dating from the C12.
2 Dense scatter of dark C12-C13 coarse cooking pot observed indicates the location of a Medieval settlement.
3 In 1989 field walking recovered a quantity of saxon and medieval pottery. A small quantity of romano british pottery was also recovered.
4The most extensive and important remains revealed by the evaluation were of the massive outer enclosure ditch, 7.8m wide x 2.45 deep to the north, and 6.7m wide x 3.4m deep to the south, and an internal bank possibly c.5.5m wide. A large quantity of domestic rubbish was recovered from the fills of trenches 5 and 8. A rock cut well was found and a possible midden layer.
5 Medieval features which were dated by pottery suggested that the occupation in the Outer Bailey should be dated between the mid 12th and early/mid 13th century. It proved difficult to separate the features chronologically. Evidence for a number of buildings was obtained, virtually all of which were of timber. A well preserved malting kiln was found and two adjacent subrectangular cess pits. Relatively large quantities of finds were recovered, including animal bone and environmental samples. Two east – west trackways were identified.
6 Understanding the character of the settlement in the outer enclosure of the castle was set as one of the main aims of the excavations. Either it was a village, established around the caslte or possibly before the castle, and then deserted when the castle was abandoned, or it was a large outer bailey forming part of the castle itself, with a military function. Evidence from the excavations suggests that this settlement represents a defended village attached to the castle. Pottery evidence suggests that occupation within the excavated area seems to have ceased in the early decades of the 13th century. Other finds included domestic and agricultural metalwork, some weaponry and metalworking residues. Analysis of the botanical remains recovered identified mostly cereal remains and associated weeds, and small numbers of hazel, apple, pea and beans.
7 See also 1 above. Watching brief recorded at SP085559 “a small U sectioned feature, 2m wide and 1.5m deep (northern section) and lying NW/SE. [ ] there was one fill – a stiff dark orange brown sandy loam containing small pieces of charcoal, animal bone (cow), and many sherds of pottery”. Pottery probably 13th century, some possibly 12th century. Thought to be a medieval domestic rubbish pit. Cut through an extensive cobble surface (recorded as extending over 15m to the SW) 0.80m below the surface at this point. Second feature recorded c. 75m to south-west (area A) recorded as cut from the same level but otherwise undated.