Aldbourne Heritage Centre
Exploring the Village Story

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Barnes Yard Archaeology

A brief summary by Chris Rust

Excavation location

When I first skim read the report and looked at the drawing thought it was boring, but there’s an interesting twist at the end!


Dating of features is by the latest find within the feature – most dating evidence here was pottery .

T1/T2/T3 are the evaluation trenches that helped then know what to dig in full

You’ll see only one evaluation trench had anything interesting

Led to an area 16x36m being excavated fully

So let’s zoom in a bit



Main Excavation

Here’s the full drawing


Rather busy, so I’ll simplify in a moment

Area behind the old street frontage so no buildings found

Some features had no finds so are undated, some only modern (vehicle parts etc, and modern rubbish) so we’ll ignore those.






Now the diagram stripped of anything but prehistoric


Easy to see not much there!

One pit with a few sherds of pottery, possibly as late as 1st century AD

Some prehistoric sherds also found in later features – nobody ever sifted their soil to put only current items in the fill of a feature






by042 Phases, first(1-2 century AD) is the two ditches and grave (top blob)

Ditches are field enclosures or land boundaries

Grave is of a child (N-S alignment), age 1-2yrs, supine position, Carbon dated to 1-175AD. Bones indicate they had suffered from metabolic disease and nutritional deficiencies , including anaemia and or scurvy

2nd phase is large pit – 3-4 Century

Just over 2m wide, and 2m deep, 50 sherds – rubbish pit? Good mix of different pottery types including one bit of samian – so someone round here had money for decent crockery




Truncated ditch and pits. Ditch only 2.75m long. Bit of medieval cooking pot recovered from fill

Pits consistent with refuse disposal, mainly 12-14 Century






Post Medieval

by06Well and pits of various sizes – waste disposal , domestic and building debris

Well formed of lime mortared rough hewn blocks, not excavated to a depth of more than 2m – well are renowned for being dangerous to excavate






Bone Fragment

by07Found in undated pit #4001 which was just next to one of the Roman ditches

Part of adult (<40 years) skull

Spot what’s unusual?

Polished through handling (bottom edge)

They’re not sure why

Most obvious parallels are Dutch about the time of Christ

Dutch examples seem to have been used as shallow cups

So do we have another Aldbourne Cup, but of a more macabre type??