Bromborough Courthouse 2014

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Project Overview

In the autumn of 2014 Big Heritage staff along with volunteers from the local community began excavation of five trial trenches at Bromborough Courthouse, a scheduled ancient monument deemed at risk by Historic England due to industrial dumping and erosion. This was part of the larger Discovering Bromborough 2 supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The site was occupied from at least the seventeenth century when records demonstrate that a building was erected on the site, which stood until 1969. The architectural features suggest it was constructed c.1680. However, it has long been assumed that the site was the location for previous courthouses noted in texts referring to Bromborough from the thirteenth century. However, no physical evidence or historical description of the site survives to prove if these earlier courthouse buildings were actually located at this site. Big Heritage thought this would make an interesting research project and provide a great opportunity to build upon the skills acquired by local volunteers during the earlier Discovering Bromborough test pitting project conducted in Bromborough Village. To learn more about the history of the site and previous archaeological research please take a look at the project blog: http://www.digbrom.com

Prior to planning the excavation, areas of the courthouse site were strimmed in preparation for geophysical survey. Big Heritage explored two areas measuring the resistance in the ground. This technique can locate features, such as walls and foundations, ditches and pits. The results indicated that the site had surviving archaeology in the form of a fence line and possible linear pits. These areas were the main targets for the excavation in the autumn. To see the results in full take a look at the report.

Download: Bromborough Court House - Report on a Resistivity Survey

The site prior to strimming and geophys under way in the wet.

The site prior to strimming and geophys under way in the wet.

The next phase of the project was to open five evaluation trenches based on the geophysical results. We found evidence for a post medieval fence line, a probable sandstone structure and well. Sadly, a perched water-table at approximately 50cm has badly degraded the sandstone and no dating evidence was available to suggest when this probable building may have been in use. To learn more about the outcomes from the excavation please download the report.

Download: Bromborough Courthouse Excavation Report

Trench Locations

Trench Locations

Trench One: note the fence line and pebbled surface

Trench One: note the fence line and pebbled surface

Trench Three: note the degraded sandstone in two lines, which appear to form a corner of a possible structure

Trench Three: note the degraded sandstone in two lines, which appear to form the corner of a possible structure

The excavation recovered plenty of artefacts during the course of the project. The earliest of which dated to the prehistoric period. However, these appear to be chance losses with the bulk of the evidence pertaining to the seventeenth century onward. This is to be expected, as it correlated well with the known courthouse site built c.1680.

Clay tobacco pipe fragments, ceramic ornaments, horse shoe and Price's Candle Factory tag

Clay tobacco pipe fragments, ceramic ornaments, a horseshoe and a Price's Candle Factory tag were just some of the finds from the excavation.

The project was largely undertaken by local volunteers and groups. All volunteers were given a tour of the site and training in a variety of techniques, such as basic excavation, planning and section drawing, levelling and total station surveying, photography, recording, environmental sampling and finds processing.

Volunteers taking part in a variety of archaeological techiniques.

Volunteers taking part in a variety of archaeological techniques.

We also filmed the project over a number of dig days. You can see how we got on by watching our video below.

Discovering Bromborough 2: The Courthouse from Big Heritage on Vimeo.

If you have any questions about the project please email joanne.kirton@bigheritage.co.uk