Enfield Archaeological Society

Founded in 1955, the Enfield Archaeological Society is active in carrying out research and fieldwork in and around the London Borough of Enfield, in order to understand and preserve its history.

Our main aims are: to promote the practice and study of archaeology in the district; to record and preserve all finds in the borough and encourage others to allow their finds to be recorded by the Society; and to co-operate with neighbouring societies with similar aims.

Membership is open to anybody with an interest in the past.

The Enfield Archaeological Society is affiliated to the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society; the President for the society is Harvey Sheldon BSc, FSA, FRSA

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 Announcing our new book!

First Stop North Of Londinium:

The Archaeology of Roman Enfield and its Roadline Settlement

£33.50 inc. p&p (uk delivery only)


First Stop North of Londinium cover

A definitive description and analysis of all the known Roman archaeology in the north London borough of Enfield, this monograph brings together antiquarian finds and re-presented and augmented reports on work from the 1950s to 1970s with the more recent excavations of the EAS as well as Museum of London Archaeology.

With prefatory chapters on aspects of the area including its prehistory, the volume documents what is known of the settlement that grew up here alongside Ermine Street, the road itself, a possible tannery, other settlement sites and often higher status burials.

A synthetic chapter examines the role of all small roadside settlements around Londinium in terms of function, chronology and their relationship to the provincial capital and discusses the possible economy of this area of the Lea valley.

With full illustrated stratigraphic and finds reports for over 45 individual sites (including samian ware, brooches, metalwork and important Roman glass finds), it presents the evidence for what may have been a broadly rural landscape, but with a quasi-urban settlement that may have reflected the needs of a cursus publicus system operating along one of the main roads of the province.

355 pages; 137 black and white and colour figures; 19 black and white and colour plates.



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Send a cheque payable to "The Enfield Archaeological Society" together with your postal address to:

Enfield Archaeological Society
9 Junction Road
Edmonton
London
N9 7JS


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Latest News

  • 21 Jul 2017

    Forty Hall Summer Dig - Day 9

    the floor

    fully excavated and cleaned floor(s)

    The brick floors in our palace building have now been fully excavated, cleaned and photographed and we spent most of this afternoon drawing them.

    The relationships between different floor layers, associated walls, their repairs and patches and other features is very complex and still to be fully untangled.

    We opened two final extensions to trench 2 to find out more about the floor where it seems to meet an east-west wall at the south edge of the trench (top of pic).

    plan

    plan of trench 2

    The first extension in the corner of the trench, near the pit cut in the floor we investigated yesterday, revealed yet another wall, heading south, with another brick floor to the east of it.

    This may mean that the large wall beneath the floors is not in fact a previous end wall to the building, but part of a completely different building pre-dating the floors and walls above it.

    The second extension, about halfway along the trench edge, was located next to an apparently round patch in the brick floor and its associated wall, filled with larger bricks on a slightly different alignment to the rest.

    The extension revealed a substantial demolition cut filled with very large pieces of brickwork, some still mortared together and included some shaped bricks and a few pieces of architectural stonework.

    At the bottom of the cut, next to the wall and the round patch in the floor there is a curious section of roof tiles mortared in place and on edge. This has rung a bell will some of our diggers, who can remember excavating a very similar feature in nearby Waltham Abbey, which turned out to be a bread oven - the tiles were laid edge on to provide a very durable base for the oven which would have seen considerable use.

    In this context, the adjacent patch in the floor could be an ash pit associated with an oven, which perhaps went out of use, was filled and capped with bricks.

    This is only a theory at this stage, but a kitchen would definitely have needed a hard wearing floor such as the one we have in trench 2 and would undoubtedly have seen considerable wear and tear and running repairs during its lifetime.

    knop

    wine glass knop

    There were again lots of nice finds today, and even more decorated stoneware, plus a few pieces of fine vessel glass, including a knop from a wine glass (where the bowl and stem meet - pictured)

    Tomorrow is our last day’s digging, and a public open day - part of ‘Love Forty Hall Park Day’, featuring a wide range of activities throughout the day so hopefully we should see lots of visitors before we begin backfilling on Sunday.





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  • 20 Jul 2017

    Forty Hall Summer Dig - Day 8

    trench 6

    wall in trench 6

    A brief spell of rain slowed things down slightly this morning but thankfully cleared up by the afteroon, not delaying things too much.

    We opened a new trench today (trench 6), to the north of trench 2, looking for a continuation of the partition wall(s) and possibly the floor in our palace building.

    Not much progress has been made in this trench yet, but a wall has appeared, running north-south at the west end of the trench.

    There’s more work to do on it, but it seems to be more substantial than the narrow room partition walls in trench 2 and last year’s trench, so may be more likely to be a proper full-height brick wall rather than a support for a timber framed construction as with the others.

    stoneware

    polychrome stoneware sherd

    Decorated stoneware is definitely the theme of this year’s dig - we can scarcely put a trowel in the ground without finding fragments of stoneware jugs/mugs - trench 6 has already produced several sizeable pieces including body, neck and base fragments.

    Another bearded man also put in an appearance, similar in style to yesterday’s, but with the lower part of his face rather than the upper.

    We also had another fragment of a coat of arms decorated in the same multicoloured glaze as the piece with the figure of a man we found on day 6.

    In trench 2, the brick floors are now alsmost fully exposed and the painstaking process of cleaning them for full interpretation, planning and photography has begun.

    Interpretation will be no mean feat - there are evidently several phases of development to the upper floor surfaces alone.

    brick floor

    hole cut through the brick floors

    Meanwhile, in the south east corner of the floor there is a feature causing much head scratching - the floor seems to have been cut through during demolition and a sizeable pit dug through it.

    We spent much of today removing the rubble fill of this cut hoping to see signs of the large wall we recorded yesterday, which we know the upper floor is laid upon and looked to be running in this direction.

    The hole has revealed substantial brickwork beneath both upper floors but it is not a wall - the brick work seems to consist of several layers including at least one course of roof tile, and some bricks seem to be laid edge-on as the floors are.

    Could these be even earlier floor surfaces? Making sense of this feature is complicated by the messy nature of the demolition cut and will be an important job for tomorrow.

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  • 19 Jul 2017

    Forty Hall Summer Dig - Day 7

    trench 2

    the brick floor grows

    Thankfully the rain just about held off today, and last night’s thunderstorms softened the ground just enough to make digging easier and less dusty than yesterday, not to mention giving our brick floors a handy rinse.

    The southern extension to trench 2 made good progress today and is almost finished, uncovering more of the hardy brick surface within our palace building.

    The upper floor surface has been truncated in a rough line across the length of the trench revealing, as we suspected earlier in the week, another brick floor beneath.

    Similarly to the floor above it, this surface has bricks laid in more than one orientation and also has signs of repair and patching to it (perhaps one of the reasons a new floor was eventually laid on top). There may also be tentative signs of burning on the lower floor, but this will need closer examination tomorrow.

    trench 2 wall

    external wall and possible drain (left)

    At the east end of trench 2 the large wall was fully excavated, including the disturbed remains of a few roof tiles, clearly deliberately laid along the front of the wall. We think this may be the remains of the base of a small drain set along the front of the original building.

    Altogether, the structures in trench 2 are very complex and multi-phased and interpreting their relationships to each other will take some time. At the moment, we think the large wall (pictured) is the earliest phase, representing the original east end of the building, belonging to Sir Thomas Lovell’s palace, circa 1490-1524, which was later remodelled probably by Henry VIII circa 1540, which involved demolishing the wall (probably to extend the building) and relaying the floor on top of it.

    bartmann

    'Bartmann' jug face

    As mentioned yesterday, this year’s dig has turned up quite a lot of stoneware fragments including pieces of decorated ‘Bartmann’ jugs, and today while drawing the north section of trench 2 we had a pleasant surprise when the bearded man himself put in an appearance (pictured).

    Initial research has suggested that the stoneware fragment we found yesterday with the image of a man may also come from a Bartmann jug, which is quite unusual given that it is decorated in multi colour glaze (Bartmann jugs typically being monochrome).

    The face on this fragment is quite a distinctive elongated shape, which should be highly dateable.

    drain

    disturbed drain in t1

    Trench one continues to throw curveballs - what we thought was the robbed out remains of a wall footing paralell to our large drain is now in fact almost certainly another drain, having been very severly disturbed by the roots of a now absent tree.

    This new drain runs almost at ninety degrees to the larger one - a trench extension this afternoon established that the large drain truncates the smaller one, so must be later. As in trench 2 we think this may be more evidence of Henry VIII’s remodelling of the palace some time after 1540.

    Since the smaller drain has been cut through by the larger, we may further extend the trench in this area to see if and where it continues on the far side of the large drain.

    flint tool

    mesolithic scraper

    Every now and then we’re given a welcome reminder that the Tudors were far from the first people to live in Forty Hall - today this came from the extension to the drain trench, which produced a lovely flint tool.

    Prehistoric hunter-gatherers are known to have lived at least briefly in this area of Enfield particularly in the late Neolithic/Early Bronze age, but this tool is probably earlier being typical of the kind of tool produced in the Mesolithic period, around 7,000 to 11,000 years ago, making Henry VIII seem like yesterday!





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  • 18 Jul 2017

    Forty Hall Summer Dig - Day 6

    trench 2

    extension to trench 2

    Picking up where we left off on Sunday, the long-awaited extension to trench two was opened today, immedately to the south of the brick floor, aiming at exposing much more of it and hopefully explaining some of its oddities, including the recess at the west end (under plastic sheet, pictured), which appears to show another brick surface underneath the main one.

    The floor so far exposed is heavily worn and perhaps even rutted, indicating heavy use and frequent foot traffic, and there’s a thin diagonal line of bricks set in the floor which could possibly be a filled in drainage feature - whatever this room was it seems to be a fairly functional part of the palace.

    trench 2

    wall at east end of t2
    (paralell and between the roots)

    At the east end of trench 2, the thick deposit of coarse rubble is now fully excavated and, as we had hoped, has revealed a substantial wall which could possibly an east end of our building.

    Things are slightly complicated by the fact that the brick floor seems to have been laid on top of this wall, and the wall itself is not quite on the same alignment as the partition wall in trench 2.

    There are several possible explanations, including that this was an external end wall which was then demolished when the building was remodelled, or it could even once have been a subterranean wall forming part of a cellar.

    We may be able to tell more about it once today’s extension makes more progress, but proper interpretation will probably have to wait until post-excavation.

    trench 1

    wall foundations in t1

    Meanwhile trench 1 finally yielded evidence for the north edge of the building - a very heavily disturbed and partially robbed out line of bricks seems to mark all that is left of the footings of the building at this point.

    This is very close to, and likely paralell with our drain, strongly suggesting the drain was laid along the edge of the building (or range of buildings), probably serving several garderobes (toilets) in this block, similar to the ones on the south side of the building we found in 2014-15.

    stoneware

    armorial stoneware

    The star finds of today were both decorated stoneware, similar to the piece we found on day 4.

    The first, as before, bears a coat of arms which probably once formed part of a ‘Bartmann’ (i.e. Bearded Man) jug - so called because they bore the face of bearded man on the neck. Once nicknamed ‘Bellarmines’ due to their supposed resemblance to a cardinal of the same name, they later acquired additional decoration on the body in the form of medallions with coats of arms of royalty and notable families.

    Body sherds of these vessels are ubiquitous at Elsyng, but finding decorated fragments is much less common.


    pantaloon man

    polychrome stoneware figure

    The second piece is much more unsusual - although made in essentially the same fabric, this pot is decorated with the figure of a man in archetypal Tudor costume - doublet and trunk hose, and perhaps even a ruff. He is standing in an outdoor setting, possibly a hunting scene.

    Sadly his head and feet are missing but interestingly the pot is decorated in at least three colors - the typical brown base and with blue and yellow-green hilights on the figure.

    The forecast for tonight is heavy thunderstorms - this may actually do the site some good, since things were starting to bake this aftertnoon and a good soak may make things easier to work tomorrow.

    We’ll just have to hope the rain clears up by the time we get on site tomorrow morning!

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  • 16 Jul 2017

    Forty Hall Summer Dig - Day 5

    trench 2

    edge of floor in t2

    We began today’s digging continuing at the east end of trench 2, revealing more of the very nice brick floor that once served this room of our palace building, and investigating the coarse rubble deposit beyond it.

    The floor surface has been roughly truncated at the point the rubble begins, confirming our suspicion yesterday that the rubble is filling a substantial cut into the floor of the building towards its east end.

    The reason for this cut is as yet unclear as the rubble deposit is not yet fully excavated - and there is still no sign of any wall marking the east end of the building.

    Although the floor has been robbed out at this point, we were surprised to find the last metre or so of the surviving floor contains brickwork at a different orientation to the rest - at the moment the theory is that this might be decorative, perhaps suggesting that the floor is for a moderately high status room.

    trench 4

    We finished excavating our brick drain over by trench 1 today - no mean feat as it turned out to be considerably deeper than we expected making it very awkward to reach. In the end, a brick-built base was revealed just over a metre down, revealing eleven courses of immaculately laid Tudor brickwork on each side - one of the best built walls we’ve seen in recent years.

    The deposit filling the drain was carefully screened and turned up quite a few very small finds, including clothes pins, lace ends and some very small bones including fish bones and a tiny humerus (leg bone) from a small rodent - we think maybe a shrew (all less than 10mm).

    pipe

    early 17th century tobacco pipe

    The fish bones are particularly interesting as they are so delicate and rarely survive unlike the larger beef and sheep remains (which have been turning up in large numbers in all trenches), and so give an important insight into the Tudor diet.

    With a mind to this we retrieved several bulk samples of the context for fine sieving after the dig (stay tuned to the society newsletter for the outcome!).

    We’ll be taking tomorrow off to catch up on paperwork and finds processing, (including some lovely very early clay tobacco pipes - one pictured) and we’ll be back, rested and raring to go again on Tuesday.

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  • 15 Jul 2017

    Forty Hall Summer Dig - Day 4

    trench 2

    removing rubble in trench 2

    Today’s digging focused mainly on the eastern extension to trench 2, looking to expose more of the brick floor within our Tudor palace building and continuing the search for an east end to the building range.

    The east end of this trench is characterised by large tree roots (from the lime tree avenue), which overlay a noticeably thicker deposit of demolition rubble at the far end of the trench, consisting mostly of large brick and roof tile fragments.

    This area had a distinct straight edge, paralell to the interior partition wall and floor edge in the middle of the trench, and we suspected this might be an early sign of the extent of the floor and perhaps the demolished remains of the end of the building.

    This end of trench 2 is not yet fully excavated, but at the moment it looks like we were at least half right: The brick floor does seem to end roughly where the large roots begin, but at the moment there is no sign of structure beneath the rubble beyond.

    trench 2

    enlarged floor exposure

    We’ve now exposed about twice as much of the brick floor as yesterday, and it appears to be fairly consistent all the way across - heavily worn bricks lain edge-on with perhaps a slight dip in the middle.

    Again, this area is not yet fully excavated - one of the most interesting parts will be its eastern edge, which may yet tell us if our building ends here or if there’s yet another room.

    The most tantalising feature of the floor, though, is the rectangular gap in the southern side of the trench, which revealed a layer of bricks beneath. These bricks seem to be similarly laid, but crucially are on a different alignment. This could well be an earlier floor - we will definitely need to extend the trench south to see more.

    trench 4

    recording the brick drain

    We’re now sure the double wall we uncovered over by trench 1 is indeed a drain - it is quite a substantial construction consisting of two well built walls, which would probably have had an arched roof (we have seen several such examples elsewhere on site), although this would have made the drain very shallowly buried - it may alternatively have had a flat roof, perhaps of flagstones.

    We began to excavate the fill of the drain today, which contained quite a few nice finds including tiny copper alloy clothes pins, a metal fixture we think from a shoe and quite a few animal bones. So far we’ve gone down seven courses of bricks and still haven’t found the drain base.

    pot

    One of the nicest finds from trench 1 was a fragment from a stoneware mug or jug, featuring a coat of arms - this was a common marketing gimmick in the 16th and 17th centuries, with such vessels commonly being made with coats of arms of various European royal families, sometimes quite shoddily with basic heraldic mistakes.

    This one appears to feature four quartered lions rampant (not Enfields, as some of our diggers would have liked!) - and is probably the coat of arms of Owain Glyndŵr, the last native Prince of Wales from 1404 to his death in around 1415.

    It’s hard to think of a more ironic find than one commemorating a celebrated rebel against Lancastrian rule in the midst of a Tudor palace!

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