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 Council for British Archaeology and the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society; the President for the society is Harvey Sheldon, B.Sc, F.S.A, F.R.S.A.Latest News »
The Society has an active programme of fieldwork including annual research excavations on the sites of former Tudor and Jacobean palaces, and rescue work throughout the year including work on Roman roadside settlements, iron-age hillforts and others in and around Enfield.
Research work varies from casual field-walks, map regression and documentary research, remote sensing study and ground survey work. The Society has several publications both in and out of print; our most recent book is Enfield at War 1914-1918, by Geoffrey Gillam and revised by Ian Jones.
We are keen wherever possible to share the results of our work: Our summer digs take place as part of the CBA's national Festival of Archaeology, during which we give tours and talks to the public as well as school parties, in co-operation with Enfield Council.
This year’s summer dig dates have been finalized: We will be digging at Cedars Park, Broxbourne, on the former site of James I’s Theobalds Palace on the 10th 11th and 12th July and the following week in Forty Hall, Enfield, on the former site of the Tudor palace of Elsyng from the 14th to 19th.
The dig in Cedars park will be further exploring the palace ‘loggia’ garden feature we successfully uncovered last year, to further establish its size and date, and also to get a better look at the ornamental ‘canal’ that bounded it.
The dig in Forty Hall will continue to look at the new (possibly early Tudor) palace building we discovered last summer, and hopefully continue to follow the palace boundary wall west of the lime tree avenue, further defining the perimeter of the palace complex.
As ever, the digs will take place as part of the nationwide Festival of Archaeology, and members of the public will be welcome to come and see how we get on – each Sunday there will be stalls and other activities and members of the Society will be available to explain our work.
Members of the Society wanting to join the digs should preferably bring a packed lunch, and are reminded that stout footwear and sensible clothing are essential. Details of times and meeting places will be published later in the year.
After an unexpected series of technical delays we have finally confirmed dates for the first dig of the year. We will be digging in Forty Hall at the site of Elsyng Palace on the weekend of March 28th and 29th in search of a late medieval/early Tudor palace midden (see previous post).
The dig site should be easy to find at the far end of the lime tree avenue in Forty Hall; members of the public will be welcome to come and see how we get on, but members of the Society who wish to join in are asked please to contact Lesley (membership) first.
The 2015 lecture programme has been published and can be seen here.
Although we’ve been very busy since the summer digs, there’s not been much to write about – The Heritage Lottery Funded works in the park and grounds in Forty Hall are now mostly complete, and we have monitored and recorded a variety of trenches and post-holes, which have provided snippets of useful information but nothing really very newsworthy.
One of the more interesting jobs we monitored was the installation of a new footbridge across Maidens Brook, at the north end of the lime tree avenue. This involved partially restoring some nineteenth century brickwork which in turn is built on top of the remains of an earlier water-stair and sluice arrangement which once formed part of the complex water feature network and landscaping scheme in the park, probably built by the Hall’s owner, Eliab Breton, in the eighteenth century.
The work to renew the brickwork revealed a widespread deposit including brick and mortar fragments, but most predominantly animal bones, which we have encountered before during the ‘Greenway’ cycle track work. Dating evidence shows that this is most likey a palace era midden (rubbish tip) – and since it is a reasonable distance from the palace complex we had originally thought that the material must have been redeposited, perhaps when the eighteenth century landscaping work was carried out.
Now that we have seen more of it, it seems more likely the midden is in fact in-situ. We will have an opportunity to see more soon, as a new fence is due to be installed near the bridge – we will take the opportunity to open some archeological trenches and investigate the deposit formally, probably in early January.
The site is marked in the above photo by the end of the rainbow – we hope that this is an auspicious sign!
The final day of this year’s summer digs was, as usual rewarding but exhausting. The structure at the north end of the trench is undoubtedly the exterior wall of a palace building, fronting an essentially ornamental moat, and we are now almost certain that the wall features an integral garderobe (lavatory) chute, which would have discharged directly into the moat.
The reason for the slumping area of brickwork is that the rectangular chute was backfilled with large sections of rubble, stuck together with a very soft sandy mortar – the gaps in the rubble and the soft sand has allowed the contents of the chute to settle, the in-situ brickwork around it slumping inwards. It also appears that a large part of the front of the chute was chopped out at its base during demolition, probably in an effort to fell the wall directly into the moat. The soft sandy mortar is typical of the early Tudor phase of the palace, lending more weight to the theory that at least part of this building belongs to Thomas Lovell’s courtier’s palace.
Bingo! Hours of tiring work in intense heat, high humidity and biting insects was rewarded today by the long anticipated palace structure.
An extension at the north end of the trench quickly revealed what at first looked to be a narrow wall buried just under topsoil, but a further extension showed that it is in fact a substantial wall with what looks to be some slumping on one side, making it look at first glance narrower.
An extension to the east and another north revealed at least two and possibly more phases of wall construction, following a dog-leg. The section that was first revealed has a brick offset footing, whereas the section in the east half is sitting on a mortar bed.
Despite thunderstorms overnight, the ground quickly dried out today and the summer heat continued to make work very difficult for our diggers.
Yesterday’s half-width trench extensions were today widened to the full width of trench one while the south end of the trench containing the shallow rubble-filled ditch feature was backfilled and re-turfed, having been fully recorded.
The north end of the trench contains a complex mixture of rubble and brickearth dumps, which at the moment seem to be part of one large deposit filling yet another linear feature such as a ditch, albeit much deeper than the one we backfilled today.