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Evaluations on the site of the lost medieval settlement of Densett, Bourn, Cambridgeshire

Spoerry, Paul (2005) Evaluations on the site of the lost medieval settlement of Densett, Bourn, Cambridgeshire. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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As part of a research project into a previously unknown rural medieval iron industry based in West Cambridgeshire, a programme of fieldwalking, geophysical survey and trial trenching was carried out on the lost settlement of Densett in Bourn parish. Fieldwalking and documentary research by David Baxter had identified abandoned medieval properties and concentrations of surface finds including domestic material and industrial waste from both smithing and smelting. During August 2004 a magnetometer survey was carried out across the whole settlement landscape supplemented by smaller amounts of resistivity. From these results and other landscape data, a trenching strategy was designed to investigate domestic remains and putative industrial features including possible smelting or smithing hearths and areas of features associated with characteristic bloomery slags.

Either linear evaluation trenches were excavated during late September and early October 2004. A putative concentration of domestic properties fronting onto Densett Street at the northern end of the survey area was confirmed, identified as being well preserved, and assigned dates from the 12th to late 14th or 15th centuries. Only limited evidence for metalworking was identified. In this same group of properties and in a second area around 100m to 150m to the south magnetic anomalies preliminarily interpreted as perhaps being industrial hearths were found to be for the most part recent burnt material and dumped rubbish backfilled into former ponds, that themselves may have had an origin in extractive industry.

At the southern end of the survey area adjacent to known mill sites along the Bourn Brook in one trench a dense and well-preserved group of features were located that proved to be 13th to 14th century in date. These yielded significant quantities of ironworking waste, including slag that probably derived from a later medieval water-powered bloomery. A second trench produced a colluvial profile that contained substantial ironworking waste material along with burnt ceramic and vitrified brick that probably represent smelting hearth material displaced from working areas located slightly further upslope.

In conclusion medieval ironworking has been confirmed at Densett, representing both smithing and smelting. It has been found to survive in association with well-preserved settlement remains and to some extent differentiation of activities can be seen across the landscape The findings of this evaluation will be used to plan highly selective further investigations in 2005.

Item Type: Client Report
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bourn, bourn, Cambridgeshire, cambridgeshire, 807, report 807, Report 807, CCCAFU report 807, Medieval, medieval, Densett, densett, smithing, smelting, metalworking, ironworking, fieldwalk, fieldwalking, geophysical survey, survey, Bourn Brook, bourn brook, hearth, hearths, slag, bloomery, ceramic, brick, vitrification, vitrified brick, colluvial, colluvium, mill site, evaluation, Evaluation, trench, trenching, settlement
Subjects: Geographical Areas > English Counties > Cambridgeshire
Period > UK Periods > Medieval 1066 - 1540 AD
Depositing User: Archives
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2020 09:36
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2020 09:36
URI: http://eprints.oxfordarchaeology.com/id/eprint/5389

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