The Excavations at Goldingham Hall, Bulmer: 12th May 2015
The Society's meeting on 12th May in Foxearth Village Hall consisted of a talk by the President Ashley Cooper about the excavations at Goldingham Hall, Bulmer. As ever Ashley entertained with scholarly and interesting material which was warmly received by the 21 members and guests in attendance.
The present excavations on the site are organised by the Stour Valley Community Archaeology Group in association with Access Cambridge Archaeology and are funded by a " Managing a Masterpiece" Heritage Lottery Grant. The project is under the general supervision of Dr Carenza Lewis of Television's Time Team. By many photographs -showing landmark Belchamp Walter church on the horizon- the excavation trenches were brought to life as volunteers were seen searching for anything that the experts might be able to identify. Four days of intensive activity - including two days when 30 pupils of Bulmer Primary School lent a hand - revealed crazed flints which had been heated to provide boiling water; these pointed to Bronze Age habitation and a "star" item from this period is a near perfectly preserved flint axe head. Among a multitude of bits and pieces were fragments of Thetford ware pottery over 1,000years old and evidence of ovens which indicate a possible Saxon manor complex; hopefully further exploration in the next 3 years or so may allow some firmer conclusions to be drawn. Deep ditches could be evidence of a defensive structure around a significant building Some beautiful paintings by local artist Ben Perkins showed how a Bronze Age dwelling and a craftmans' village may have looked. The project even has an enthusiastic visiting professor who has used his technical knowledge to construct a sort of gantry with a high-level camera giving birds -eye pictures of the site.
Spice was added to this feast of information by a couple of mysteries. Finding animal bones on these occasions is commonplace but the uncovering of the complete skeleton of an adult pig was very unusual. Modern dating techniques place the demise in the mid 16th century. Could this have been some sort of religious or pagan sacrifice or perhaps the pig had some dreadful disease - who knows? The second conundrum related to what appears to have been a subterranean oven. Why build an oven underground (surely barbecues would have been the order of the day!) and how did it get the oxygen it needed?
With these imponderables hanging in the air, Ashley concluded his contribution to a very worthwhile evening. The Stour Valley Archaeology Group is keen to foster public interest and participation in the venture and to this end has arranged an "open" afternoon on Sunday 31st May from 2 to 4pm. Local residents and friends are invited to come along and see what's going on - and new volunteers will be warmly welcomed. Contact Ashley (Tel: 01787 460641)
Next meeting: 9th June 7.30pm at Long Melford Heritage Centre - part 2 of the visit arranged last year and hosted once more by the Long Melford Historical and Archaeological Society