St. Judith's Dig Sawtry.. The Monastic Grange of Sawtry Judith.
In 1979, permission was given for an archaeological Dig to be undertaken of what is considered to be the ‘Grange’ of Sawtry Abbey, an area of domestic ‘outbuildings’ close to Archers Wood. Finds revealed the nature of the area where ovens, domestic utensils, and sewing equipment were discovered. Animals seemed to have been kept close by and fish pools were found. Evidence of leisure activities was also found and some of the items are displayed here. Local residents under the guidance of Ken Delve undertook the Dig, and many people from the village gave many hours of their time, notably, Harry Milford who took most of the photographs and afterwards carefully recorded events and all of the items found. As a monastic grange, linked with the Cistercian foundation of Sawtry Abbey, Sawtry Judith was in operation from the late 14th to early 16th century (c. 1536). The Sawtry Archaeological Society investigated the site in 1979/1980. The central feature of the site is a platform roughly 50m x 50m square, surrounded on all sides by moats some 3m deep. The excavation concentrated on this platform and eventually some 50% of this area was examined, revealing two main buildings and a large expanse of cobbles. Both buildings were of similar construction, having low stone sills (a mixture of Barnack stone and cobbles), which would have supported a timber, and wattle superstructure, Building 1 had two rows of internal post bases. The large amount of red roofing tile found around the buildings suggests that they had tiled, or partially tiled, roofs. Building 1 (13m x 7.8m) is thought to have been an aisled barn. The interior was sparse on finds but the floor had a 10cm thick organic layer. A number of soil samples were taken and revealed carbonised seeds (including bread wheat and peas). A quantity of ironwork was recovered from this building, including a rather fine pair of scissors. Building 2 was more complex and had a number of internal wall divisions. Oriented East West, it was (15.25m X8.25m) and contained the remains of five hearths of various sizes. The East half of the building was fairly well preserved and consisted of two rooms, one of which contained 2 hearths. The other half of the building was complex and appeared to be a series of small workshop areas. In the West half were the remains of thirteen hearths (one of which was built over an earlier hearth) Associated with large quantities of copper alloy products- particularly pins. Large quantities of pottery were recovered from both buildings and from the surrounding cobbled areas. There is a fair amount of imported ware including a fine example of an Sth Netherlands Majolica flower vase with the sacred HIS monogram on it. Most of this dates to the late 14th to early 16th century. The coin evidence fits in with the dating already proposed with the latest issue being an almost mint condition silver groat of Henry V11. Both buildings appear to have been in use at the same time, although there is some evidence to suggest that building 2 was built a little after building 1. There was no time for detailed investigation of lower levels but trial trenching did not reveal any substantial earlier structures. The site of Sawtry Judith appears to have been abandoned when Sawtry Abbey became a victim of the Dissolution.
Date of coverage01/09/1979
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