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Land to the south of Radwinter Road, Saffron Walden Desk-Based Assessment

Atkins, Robert (2013) Land to the south of Radwinter Road, Saffron Walden Desk-Based Assessment. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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Oxford Archaeology East was commissioned by Manor Oak Homes to carry out an archaeological desk-based assessment of land to the south of Radwinter Road. The aim of the assessment was to define that archaeological potential of the site in advance of potential redevelopment. The desk-based assessment will be used by the Essex County Council Archaeological Officer to determine the archaeological potential of the site and subsequently the scope of any further archaeological investigation.
The site is situated on the south-eastern edge of Saffron Walden and is centred on TL 553 384. It encompasses a small pasture field and three arable fields of varying sizes totalling 13.9ha. There are no actual Essex Historic Environment Records (EHERs) for the site itself with no previous archaeological investigations having occurred here.
Despite a lack of any records pertaining to the proposal site itself, the desk-based assessment has pieced together some of the history of the site with known ownership and use from at least the medieval period, but with some indications of earlier activities from the Saxon and possibly the Roman periods.
Prehistoric occupation within the site is uncertain, with no EHER records from these periods within 0.7km of the site. Nonetheless survey work and aerial photographic evidence indicates that prehistoric field systems and some burial mounds previously existed in other locations nearby, implying the possibility of some survival her also. In the Roman period there may have been a road running along part of the northern boundary of the site to a fort and settlement located c.2km to the west, but it is uncertain if there was any occupation within the site itself. This roadway, in the Middle and/or Late Saxon periods, linked Walden to Sewards End more than 1km to the east. It is likely in this period there was also a settlement c.200m to the south of the site called Le Uppeshire (now called Shire Hill Farm). The site, being close to the latter settlement, was likely to have been within its field system.
The c.1758 map of Pounce Hall Farm shows that Shire Hill Farm was part of its land holdings (recorded as being owned by the de Mandevilles in Domesday Book some 700 years earlier, and with a documented history of ownership thereafter). By the time that the 1758 map was created the proposal site was still at this time subdivided into strips forming part of the open field arable associated with this manor, the strips being farmed by the individual tenants.
The c.1758 map also records that directly to the west of the site there was a field called 'Pouns Crouch Field'. It is likely this was the medieval strip field name for this area. Part of the site was within 'Stone Hill Field', 'Small Bridge Field' and 'Chalk Pit Shell' suggesting that there had been a bridge within or near the site and small scale extraction had occurred at some time.
Subsequent cartographic evidence shows that until c. 1850, the Pounce manor owned the site, but with Shire Hall Farm Probably running it. The 1843 tithe map records the site post-enclosure, when the rights of the individual manorial tenants had been extinguished and the land turned into several enclosed fields, farmed in the modern manner, mostly from Shire Hall. Shire Hall bought land off the manor around 1850, including the far western part of the site. The rest of the site was at this time owned by Lord Braybrooke and possibly other(s). These fields mostly survive to the present day with perhaps only town of the field boundaries being removed in the intervening 170 years.
To the north of the site is the former line of the Saffron Walden Branch Line railway and the former location of a World War II fuel depot and prisoner of war camp.

Item Type: Client Report
Subjects: Geographical Areas > English Counties > Essex
Period > UK Periods > Early Medieval 410 - 1066 AD
Period > UK Periods > Medieval 1066 - 1540 AD
Period > UK Periods > Post Medieval 1540 - 1901 AD
Divisions: Oxford Archaeology East
Depositing User: Chris Faine
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2014 11:33
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2014 11:33
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/2041

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