Archaeology in the Garden

After a couple of interesting finds emerged from my folks back garden, I took the opportunity to investigate a part of the garden where a pumpkin patch was going to be dug. The finds were flint debitage (rubbish from flint tool production) and a piece of Medieval pottery.

I had earlier dug two 1m test pits in areas next to where the finds came from and found a scraper, hard hammers, a few waste flint flakes and a tile but due to the garden having been rotavated it was all mixed up and was out of context with the soil being a fairly consistent mix of top soil and sand. I noted where everything came from and back filled the test pits.

When I started to dig the pumpkin patch I immediately came across a lot of debitage and a well used hard hammer at around 5-10cm, unfortunately dug into this material was recent rubbish with areas where there had been fires which had modern plastics burnt and melted into the charcoal and soil. This went on until 20cm down. I then cleared that and found a mixed up sandy soil with a few debitage finds. I slowly troweled this back and uncovered a linear feature and then another and another. Before too long it appeared I had a series of lines in the sand, at 30cm from the surface. This looked a lot like ridge and furrow, albeit a tightly packed one. When I cleaned up the section I had two pottery finds of Medieval date from the dark ‘furrows’ as well as debitage.

Below is a photo of how the ridge and furrow appeared in the soil as I first uncovered it.

I’ll get my hands on a ranging pole to give scale to the section and record this properly and put up more information in here as well.

If anyone has an interpretation to offer please let us know in the forum


I’ve managed to improvise a ranging pole, it is 1m and the red/white sections are 25cm.

Here is the cleaned up pumpkin patch (below) the plough lines (I’m assuming it is plough) is between 25-30cm from the surface.

I have excavated a small section of one of the furrows, photographed and drawn it. I then drew the entire section to scale and recorded soil types and inclusions.

I then set about investigating whether there was undisturbed flint finds below one side of the section. I chose to follow the furrow to its deepest depth and record everything that comes up from there and to see if I hit the prehistoric level. It would also allow me to see the ridge and furrow and soil deposits in plan.

This is the section taken down the bottom of the furrow. I am looking down on the 30cm plough line and below (with the ranging pole) the bottom of the new section at 45cm. I discovered at the bottom of the sandy ridges this wafer thin linear feature (on the lefthand red/white section of the ranging pole). As I cleaned up the rest of the section more of these appeared under the sandy ridges, though these are very faint. I think it may be an earlier phase of the plough. From the 30-45cm section I found a piece of flint, oddly polished flat on one surface pebble, pottery sherd and brick/tile.

A close up of the ridge and furrow, see the stone resting on the edge of the plough line.

Here is the section with the ridge and furrow, enhanced for clarity. Note the angle of most of the furrows.

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