Bromborough Courthouse 2016

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In March 2016 Big Heritage and community volunteers undertook four evaluation trenches within the interior of the Bromborough Courthouse site, a location we had previously explored in 2014. Read about the results here:

Bromborough Courthouse 2014

The 2016 trenches were sited in an area previously archaeologically unexplored by Big Heritage on previous digs. These were located to the northeast of the site in the wooded undergrowth.This work was undertaken in partnership with the Land Trust to assess the potential for survival of archaeological remains in areas of the site not previously investigated and to determine the nature and date of any features or finds recovered. We also undertook a geophysical survey (see below). This information will be used to inform future management strategies for the site and potential archaeological research projects.

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Location of 2016 Trenches

Geophysical Survey

Big Heritage commissioned Magnitude Surveys to undertake the geophysical survey and provide a report. The main aim was to assess the archaeological landscape of a c. 1 ha area of land at Bromborough Courthouse. This area covered and exceeded the survey grids from the 2014 resistivity survey undertaken by Big Heritage in 2014.

A magnetic survey and resistivity survey was successfully completed across the open areas of the site. Anomalies first identified by Big Heritage in 2014 have been mapped and further defined. Magnitude Surveys’ survey results have expanded on the previous geophysical work, contributing a number of new high and low resistance anomalies. Due to the limited extent and context of the survey area, a confident identification of these is difficult without further supportive evidence. However, some of these anomalies are likely to be archaeological in origin but will require further archaeological excavation to determine their character, function and date.

You can read the full report here: Bromborough Courthouse Geophysical Survey Report 2016

Resistivity and Magnetic Survey Results

Resistivity and Magnetic Survey Results

Excavation

Trenches 7 and 8 provided no evidence for activity prior to the seventeenth century, based on the material culture assemblage. Trench 8 had clear disturbance of the natural but this appeared to be due to the construction of a nineteenth century building, which was later demolished. Both Trench 7 and 8, plus the topsoil and subsoil of Trenches 6 and 9, contained material culture, including pottery, glass and CBM dating to the seventeenth century or later. This is not unexpected as records demonstrate that the courthouse structure demolished in 1969, south of the current area of excavation, was constructed in the mid- to late-seventeenth century. The material culture assemblage is also comparable to material recovered from earlier archaeological investigations.

Excavation out at the Courthouse in Spring 2016

Excavation out at the Courthouse in Spring 2016

Trenches 6 and 9 provided new significant dating evidence for the site in the form of multiple fragments of thirteenth-fifteenth century flat and curved ceramic roof-tile. In Trench 6 this material was associated with a deposit consisting of probable rubble and slate roof-tile, indicating that the building must have stood in close proximity to the trench. In addition, both Trench 6 and Trench 9 had clear evidence of archaeological features. Trench 6 had a probable wall foundation running east to west and Trench 9 had a large, clearly defined cut, probably a ditch, running east to west. Both features were cut into the natural clay but neither were associated with dating material. However, in Trench 6 the cut lay directly beneath the medieval roof deposit, suggesting that a relationship between the two is possible.

Sherds of 13th-15th century roof tile. Excavated from Trench 6.

Sherds of 13th-15th century roof tile. Excavated from Trench 6.

In the south facing section of Trench 9 another probable cut [909] was identified. This was difficult to explore, as it was largely present in the section. The fill (904) was notable, as it appeared comparable to the fill evident in Trenches 3-5 in the 2014 excavations, which consisted of a degraded sandstone. This suggests that the features identified in 2014, dug into the natural clay surface, and filled with sandstone fragments and silt, may be of a comparable date and function to those excavated in 2016.

The small medieval ceramic assemblage, consisting of building material, possibly associated with human activity such as walls and ditches, is the first structural evidence for occupation at the site during the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries. The quality of the material suggests that this building would have been high status. This would not be unexpected on the site, as it may be associated with, or be part of, the second medieval courthouse recorded in earlier texts but as yet not located. The discovery of this material is highly significant, as it indicates that the site was occupied from at least the fifteenth century, prior to the construction of the recorded seventeenth century courthouse.

You can learn more about the history of the site, previous archaeological investigations and the results of the Big Heritage 2014 and 2016 excavations by downloading the excavation report: Bromborough Courthouse Excavation Report 2016

We are hoping to return to the site at a later date to continue to explore the sites medieval past. If you have any questions please email joanne.kirton@bigheritage.co.uk