This autumn our young archaeologists have returned to Slawston in south-east Leicestershire for another season of fieldwalking.
We would like to say a big thank you to the Hallaton Fieldworkers and the Leicestershire Fieldworkers for sourcing a field for us to walk and helping us set up the grid and process the finds; also a big thank you to the farmer for allowing us to tromp across his crops.
This year our efforts have focused on a field close to Othorpe deserted medieval village at the northern end of the parish. Cropmarks visible on aerial photographs suggest that part of the village might lie beneath the field and we were very excited to see what we could find.
Little is known about the village of Othorpe. It is first recorded in the Domesday Book (AD 1086) and it is thought to have disappeared in the late 14th or 15th century. One of the aims of our fieldwalking is to see if we can pin down better dates for the village’s origin and abandonment.
Fieldwalking was carried out on a horrible wet day at the end of October. Braving the cold, the wind, the rain and the mud, our club members successfully walked most of the field in a couple of hours before conditions became too horrendous to continue! In a following, warmer (but equally wet and muddy!) session at the University of Leicester they washed everything that was found and attempted to identify and plot their discoveries.
So far, results look very promising. A small sample of Iron Age and Roman pottery has been picked up, as well as some Saxo-Norman material (9th – 11th century). The bulk of the pottery, however, is medieval shelly ware typical of the 12th to 14th century. Virtually no later medieval or early post-medieval pottery has been found, suggesting that the village had indeed been abandoned by the 15th century.
Watch this space…
Over the winter our Assistant Branch Leader Mather will finish cataloguing the material and produce a report of the results which we will upload to our website and send to Leicestershire’s Historic Environment Record so that our discoveries are properly documented.