We Do It

When digging on a site, we trowel and we brush, we mattock at the ground and we shovel up the soil, and it can seem like not much progress is made until we stand up and look at what we have done. Or stand back and consider what everyone else has done.

Every day so far brings at least 20 volunteers, and that is an enormous contribution to the work that we need to do to reveal and understand the archaeology, with some of the remains just 10cm (4 inches) below the grass of the meadow at Eastcote House Gardens.


We are all so very busy in the meadow

Our main find is a building with low flint walls and a cobbled floor, probably rectangular in plan, which seems to have had a timber frame with boards on the outside walls and a tiled roof.  We keep finding 19th century finds near the floor, so are beginning to wonder whether this building that is built in a medieval or 16th century style, stood until the 1800s, perhaps as a ruin.

What we have not been able to prove is the function of the building: what went on inside? No conclusions yet, but I think we can rule out a church, a cottage or a boathouse. We have pieces of possible horse harnesses and horseshoes, so perhaps it is a stable. Although, we have coal, clinker and slag, so may be a blacksmith’s?

We welcomed two classes from Coteford School today. For some of the pupils, this was their third visit, and it is super that the same volunteers come back, and remember what to do. The pupils worked in our Garden Archaeology trench, and we got everything ready before they arrived.


The trench is prepared for pupils. They are not invisible, they just haven’t arrived yet.

Onwards and Upwards

Another day at the dig brings us further parts of our stone-walled building, and parts of the building made of brick and mortar, perhaps indicating an addition or modification during its use. The exact date of the building is still unknown: the foundations suggest a timber framed building but among the layers of soil covering it are finds from after 1700, so maybe this stood into the 18th century, or was at least visible as a ruin.

We have a dedicated finds washing team, who are gaining on us, washing the finds slightly faster than we are finding them. Whatever the weather, the finds team can work, because they have a shelter. We have fragments of glass, flowerpot, porcelain, clay tobacco pipe and building materials. We also have broken fittings from a horse harness,  a horseshoe, and several pieces of medieval pottery. Some of our flint finds may have been struck in the prehistoric period.


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Our finds team are working

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Our volunteers are hard at work, using trowels and mattocks

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This is the first candidate of the year for a caption competition, featuring Kate, Christine and Chris. No prizes, just a bit of fun.

Roll on Thursday, and we may find out what our building is: a cottage? a blacksmith’s?a workshop> a stable? Hopefully, excavation and time will tell.

Here Comes The Rain Again

The third day of the fourth season of archaeology at Eastcote, and we have welcomed our first group of pupils from Coteford School, who all worked in our second trench of the season, before the rain came. All the pupils get an introduction to archaeology, and get to excavate artefacts, revealing events from fifty to five hundred years ago.

Today, the pupils revealed a gravel path and a circular flowerbed belonging to Eastcote House gardens, but it isn’t in any photographs or maps that we have seen, so may have been grassed over before the invention of the camera. Maybe we can find out what was planted there and when.

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Garden Archaeology revealed by Coteford School.

In our Meadow Trench, we carried on all day despite rain at lunchtime, continuing to find remains of a building with stone foundations and a cobbled floor. We had 20 volunteers again today, and have finds of iron objects including horseshoes, and lot of clinker and slag, pottery and glass, roof tiles, bricks that may be date to the 16th century, but we are yet to confirm the function and date of our stone building. Is it a storehouse? A dwelling? A Blacksmith’s? We think it must have been demolished before Eastcote House was built in the late 16th century, but may have been a visible ruin or earthwork for some decades.

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Stone foundations, and part of the floor.

More tomorrow, all our volunteers are very keen!

Downward To The Earth

there are days when the archaeology just appears in a perfect and interesting away, and this Sunday was one of those days. Good weather, a nice array of finds and some remains of a building are excavated.

Our find of the day was going to be a coin, but it turned out to be 10p from 1992, so instead it will have to be the archaeological features instead. We were hoping to find th eremains of a building in the meadow, and our team of intrepid volunteers found a substantial flint foundation, only one side of the building we want to find, but just near one edge of the trench. next to the wall, our volunteers have begun uncovering the floor within the walls.

We cannot yet prove the date of the building, nor what it was used for, nor when it was demolished, but we do have a single piece of medieval pottery and a horseshoe, and lumps of fuel and maybe waste from ironworking, which could be evidence for a blacksmith’s workshop, but we will not jump the gun until we have a firmer conclusion.

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The flint wall and floor just appeared during the day.

Its a Monday tomorrow, and we are having a day off, or we will work ourselves into the ground…although you could say that is what we do anyway.

Let’s Dig Again, Like We Did Last Summer

Excavations at Eastcote House Gardens have started again, which is great, but it is our last year, which is not so good.

We started with a talk last night at the stables which gave a summary of the last three years of excavation, to give everyone an overview of what has been found, and I counted 51 people: it was full, and it was lovely to see so many of our volunteers.

Over the last three years we have found prehistoric flints, remains of a medieval house called Hopkyttes, with a substantial ditch associated with it, and much of the remains of Eastcote House itself, built in the 17th century and demolished in 1965.

Last year, one of our trenches in the meadow revealed the remains of a building that seems to have been built with flint walls, but we could not prove when it was built or what it was for, so this year, our trench is ten times bigger! We had 19 volunteers today, a great start, and we were all very busy. Day by day, we will find out the character of our remains, and I will post every day.

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Everyone was trowelling very well today.

We will be digging two trenches this year. the other one is near the house, and we have only removed the grass from that, so we don’t know how interesting that will be . We’re all waiting for tomorrow!

We welcome new and former volunteers, so if you want to come along and dig, or just find out what is going on, come and say hello.