11 Jul 2018

Forty Hall Summer Dig - Day 1


We returned to Forty Hall today to contine our exploration of the service ranges of Henry VIII's Elsyng Palace, picking up where we left off in May.

Having now established the complete footprint of the "Long Barn", which formed part of the south side of the palace's outer court, we've switched focus back to the building adjacent to it that we uncovered last year, which included a substantial and heavily worn multi-phase brick floor, and part of a circular structure which at the time we initially thought was a bread oven.

We now think the circular structure was a furnace for heating water, in which case the building is probably either the "Scalding" or "Boiling House" -- part of the kitchen complex where joints of meat were boiled ("scalded") before either roasting or being incorporated into other dishes such as pies, or alternatively it may be the Scullery -- essentially the part of the kitchens responsible for washing the dishes.

trench 1
the brick floor in trench 1

We only had time to see a little less than half of the structure of the furnace last year, so this year we are opening a trench around the furnace to reveal it completely, as well as the surrounding floor and importantly to see how it relates to the substantial south wall of the building which we have seen elsewhere -- most notably a short distance west where it had two garderobe chutes in it.

Most of our efforts around this trench today focused on relocating last year's trench and setting out this year's, though we just had time to re-expose a small part of the furnace that we saw last year.

decorated stoneware

Meanwhile, our second trench (above, right) was opened to reveal more of the heavily worn floor we saw last year, closer to the barn, to find out more about the two buildings' relationship, whether there might be more rooms dividing the building up and also how far east the building ran next to the barn.

As expected, the well preserved floor emerged very quickly and the trench has already produced several interesting finds including some pieces of a very fine glass vessel and, as before, an unusual concentration of decorated stoneware fragments (pictured).

Tomorrow we aim to fully re-expose the furnace and make a proper start on trench one, and may even extend trench two to see more of the floor.


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