Roman ceramics and ancient road discovered in big archaeological dig

Two people working in the trench at Clavering Castle

Barbara Dulley from Clavering and Peter Patrick from Berden working in a trench - Credit: Clavering Landscape History Society/Jacqueline Cooper

Historical artefacts spanning several millennia have been unearthed at a Clavering community dig.

Stone Age flint, Roman ceramics and the foundations of old buildings were excavated by Clavering Landscape History Society members aged eight to 81.

More than 40 society members took part in the dig along the outer baily of Clavering Castle, which is now an area of grassland.

The excavation was organised by group leader Jacqueline Cooper and directed by archaeologist Simon Coxall.

More than 40 members of Clavering Landscape History Society joined in with the dig

More than 40 members of Clavering Landscape History Society joined in with the dig - Credit: Clavering Landscape History Society/Peter Blomley

Jacqueline said: "It was a very exciting project and more than fulfilled what we hoped for from this community dig.

"Simon Coxall had previously done geophysical survey of the field so we knew where to look.

"The story of the field's history gradually emerged as we scraped away the soil of centuries."

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Clavering Castle sits next to the River Stort, north of St Mary and St Clement Church.

Historic England says the site is "one of a limited number" of castles with fortifications built before the Norman Conquest of 1066 in England and Wales.

A long muddy trench with a group of people at the other end - The archaeological dig at Clavering Castle

Clavering's history gradually emerged as the team scraped away the soil - Credit: Clavering Landscape History Society/Jacqueline Cooper

Jacqueline said: "The dig showed how the ancient course of the river attracted early peoples to this site in the Stone Age, reflected in finding many Mesolithic and Neolithic worked flints.

"The finding of Roman potsherds (a type of ceramic material) and a broken quernstone relates to Clavering's proximity to a Roman road.

"In the Middle Ages, the site became part of the outer bailey of Clavering Castle, full of workaday buildings. Lots of animal bones appeared.

"We also discovered a wide trackway that would once have been how the peasants went to the castle to pay their dues, and there were foundations of old buildings which had been robbed out to be used elsewhere in the village when the castle fell into disuse in the 1500s."

The findings will be worked into an exhibition and report soon, Jacqueline said.

The Clavering Landscape History Society was assisted by the Warboys Archaeological Project from Cambridgeshire.

The society has thanked the landowners, Mr and Mrs Hosford, for their permission to dig and Uttlesford District Council for financial assistance from its Community Fund.