Moated Site at Manor Farm, Islip, Oxfordshire

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1 Moated Site at Manor Farm, Islip, Oxfordshire An Archaeological Excavation By Jo Pine Site Code MFI05 December 2007

2 Summary Site name: Moated Site at Manor Farm, Islip, Oxfordshire Grid reference: SP Site activity: Excavation Date and duration of project: Moated site close to Manor Farm, Islip, Oxfordshire Project manager: Joanna Pine Site supervisors: Joanna Pine, Richard Oram and Natasha Bennett Site code: MFI05 Summary of results: Structural remains (wall foundations) and part of a backfilled moat were revealed Location and reference of archive: The archive is presently held at Thames Valley Archaeological Services, Reading and will be deposited at Oxford Museum in due course. This report may be copied for bona fide research or planning purposes without the explicit permission of the copyright holder

3 Moated site at Manor Farm, Islip, Oxfordshire An Archaeological Excavation by Joanna Pine Introduction This report documents the results of an archaeological field excavation carried out at a moated site, close to Manor Farm, Islip, Oxfordshire (SP ) (Fig. 1). A joint operation involving Thames Valley Archaeological Services Ltd and the Otmoor Archaeological and Historical Society took place as part of the Islip Edward the Confessor History Project. Archaeological investigation occurred at the site over three consecutive weekends during September and October New fieldwork was undertaken on the site of a moated manor house located to the east of the current Manor Farm. This site had previously been examined by Time Team as Curtlington Manor House. They recorded masonry, and possible floor surfaces and recovered medieval pottery. This complex is surrounded by the remains of fishponds and probable house platforms. Otmoor Archaeological and Historical Society (OAHS), with funding from the Local Heritage Initiative, decided to open another trench on this site and asked Thames Valley Archaeological Services (TVAS) to assist the project with professional supervision. Jo Pine, Richard Oram and Natasha Bennett of TVAS were pleased to help. Sundry equipment was also provided by TVAS. The fieldwork was undertaken by members of the OAHS and the general public. The participants ranged from as young as 4 years old to over 65, and all were involved with various tasks of the excavations. They were shown how to excavate archaeological deposits, fill in context recording sheets, draw plans and sections, survey and photograph the site. A trench 10m by 2m was excavated across the site of the moated manor house (Fig. 3: The trench in blue; Time team trenches are shown in red). Location, topography and geology The village of Islip is situated on the banks of the River Ray, to the north of Oxford. The site lay in the northeast corner of the village to the east of the current Manor Farm (Fig. 2). The site lies on the boundary of the Oxford Clay and floodplain Terrace (BGS 1982). The site lies at a height of c.59m above Ordnance Datum. Archaeological background The earliest documentary evidence to Islip may be from a charter dating from either AD or 681, where a place is referred to as slaepi (Blair 1994). This word comes from the Old English meaning a slippery muddy place and while it is not certain this refers to Islip, no better alternative has been offered for it. Islip was 1

4 recorded as the place of Edward the Confessor s birth, between 1002 and It became important for pilgrims as a cult of the Confessor developed. In Domesday Book of AD 1086, Islip was recorded as Letelape (Mills 1998) or Istelape (Williams and Martin 2002), although in 1050 it was named as Githslepe a slippery place by the River Ight or Giht (later the Ray). The site comprises the remains of a rectangular moat and what is thought to be a manor house (Oxfordshire Sites and Monuments Record no 5277). It was first believed to be the site of Ethelred's palace but the latest suggestion is that it is the site of a court house built in the 14th century by William of Curlington, Abbot of Westminster John Fete ( ) in his history of Westminster mentions the court house built by Curtlington, and that it was on a lower site in the village. The moated house was believed to have been in use until the 16th century when it was rebuilt on its present site at Manor Farm. It is also recorded that in 1720 melted lead masses were dug up within the area of the moat. A recent earthwork survey by the English Heritage (formerly Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (England)) and Oxford University Department of Continuing Education revealed that the earthwork appears to form part of a larger manorial complex comprising a moated enclosure, fishponds and ornamental gardens. Further earthworks appear to represent house platforms, suggesting that the village once extended into this area. Clearly there were many potential research questions to be answered. Previous evaluation Time Team evaluated a number of areas of the village, using their usual combination of geophysics and evaluation trenching for one of their popular television shows (WA 2005). One of those areas investigated was the earthworks next to Manor Farm. A magnetometer survey was successful in revealing the ditch and bank of the moat. A resistance survey showed elements of structural remains within the moated area with wall or foundation alignments and possible floor surfaces. There followed limited archaeological investigations which were somewhat curtailed because of time constraints (the programme format is a 3 day event). Four trenches were excavated (Fig. 3) and these revealed demolition/robbing debris rubble together with wall foundations constructed of roughly hewn limestone blocks and stones. These deposits contained pottery dated to the 13th- 14th century, iron nails and tile fragments. Beneath these remains was a buried soil, probably the original land surface prior to construction of the moat and associated structures. 2

5 Objectives and methodology The aim of this project was to enable members of the public to participate in the recording of their local past whilst adding to the archaeological knowledge of the site, hopefully throwing light on some of the uncertainties raised above. A single trench c.10m long and 2m wide would be excavated by members of the Society together with members of the general public. This work was to be supervised by a professional archaeologist. Ms Hannah Fluck, formerly of Oxfordshire County Archaeological Service was involved in securing the professional archaeological supervision for this arrangement. Results Trench 1 (Figs 2 and 3, Pls 1 6) A single trench excavated approximately north-south, was 10m in length and 2m wide. The results of the fieldwork showed the earliest deposit to be a buried soil deposit (56/58) which was possibly the original land surface before construction of the moat and manorial buildings. The deposit was a grey brown clayey silt, which contained occasional limestone pieces and charcoal flecks. Five sherds of medieval pottery with a date range of 11th-14th century, animal bone and tile fragments were recovered from this deposit. Truncating this deposit was the probable edge of the moat ditch (1) (Plate 2). This was only partially revealed in the evaluation trench and thus the complex nature of this ditch could not be discerned during this investigation. Moat ditches can be cleaned out on numerous occasions during use of the site. For example at Eysey Manor in Wiltshire the moated ditch appears to have been recut/cleaned on at least five occasions from the 13th through to the 19th (Pine in prep). It appears that ditch 1 here may indeed have been recut on at least one occasion 2 (55), although this could possibly be simply a later fill rather than a recut. Ditch 1 was shown to be 0.60m deep and contained a firm orange brown silt (66) sealed by a firm mid grey brown silty clay with occasional limestone fragments (63). Ditch fill (55) was a mottled light yellow brown clay with occasional limestone flecks. It was sealed by thin clay deposit (54) which contained three sherds of mass produced white earthenware together with 14 sherds of early post-medieval ware. To the south of the trench stonework that probably represents building elements were partially revealed, stratigraphically later than the buried soil layer (56/58). Elements of a probable wall foundation (57) was partially exposed within the trench. This was aligned in a north-south direction and was comprised roughly hewn limestone fragments with a silty clay material within the stones which was a possible bonding material (Plate 4). At its southern end it appeared to butt another foundation (65) which was only partially exposed at the southern end of the trench. At the northern end of the exposed foundation 57 was a small stretch of foundation aligned 3

6 east-west again comprised of limestone fragments within a silty clay matrix with tumble. Another probable limestone foundation 61, was partially exposed in the eastern side of the trench and again comprised roughly hewn limestone blocks and fragments, maximum size 0.20m in length within a silty clay matrix. Stonework 61 was sealed by a thin deposit (59) of silty clay with occasional small stones, which contained three sherds of 13th century pottery. To the north was an east-west deposit of limestone fragments (60) within a clay matrix, which sloped down to the south. Whether parts of the southern material was in fact tumble was difficult to ascertain within this small scale excavation. It is suggested from the earlier investigations on the site that this stonework may represent an external wall mirroring the alignment of the moat. This stonework was sealed by a thin clay deposit (52) which contained 13th century pottery and oyster shell (Plate 3). The stonework was sealed by demolition/robbing debris (62/53) which contained 16th-century pottery together with stone roof tiles and numerous iron nails in a sandy silty clay. This observation broadly correlates with the suggested history of the site (above) where the old building was abandoned and rebuilt to the north. In doing so it would not be surprising to find that stonework and internal furnishings would be robbed and re-used, just leaving the partial remains and demolition debris as observed. Finds Pottery by Paul Blinkhorn The pottery assemblage comprised 77 sherds with a total weight of 547g. The range of post-roman fabric types suggests that there was activity at the site from around the time of the Norman Conquest, with a possible hiatus from the 14th 16th centuries. Fabrics The medieval material was recorded utilizing the coding system and chronology of the Oxfordshire County typeseries (Mellor 1984; 1994), as follows: OXAC: Cotswold-type Ware, AD sherds, 77g. OXBF: North-East Wiltshire Ware, AD sherd, 18g. OX234: Banbury ware, late 11th late 14th century. 7 sherds, 41g. OXY: Medieval Oxford Ware, AD sherds, 13g. OXAM: Brill/Boarstall Ware, AD sherds, 79g. OXDR: Red Earthenwares, sherds, 247g. WHEW: mass-produced white earthenwares, mid 19th - 20th C. 17 sherds, 72g. The pottery occurrence by number and weight of sherds per context by fabric type is shown in Table 1. The range of fabric types is typical of medieval sites in the region. Discussion The pottery present indicates that there was activity at the site from around the time of the Norman conquest onwards. Later medieval wares are very under-represented, with just a single OXAM bowl sherd from context 4

7 53 being datable to the 14th 16th centuries. This may indicate an hiatus in activity at the site during that time, although the small assemblage size means that the apparent gap is simply a result of the vagaries of archaeological sampling. The range of medieval vessel types is typical, comprising fragments of coarseware jars and bowls and glazed jugs. It appears wholly domestic in nature, and it is also of note that most contexts yielded fragments of medieval roof tile, both glazed and unglazed, indicating that there was a substantial medieval building in the immediate vicinity of these excavations. Table 1: Pottery occurrence by number and weight (in g) of sherds per context by fabric type OXAC OXBF OXY OX234 OXAM OXDR WHEW Context No Wt No Wt No Wt No Wt No Wt No Wt No Wt Spoil Heap Total Animal Bone by Ceri Falys A total of 300 animal bone fragments weighing 2762g were recovered from eight contexts (see Table 2). Overall the pieces were poorly preserved, resulting in a low success rate of identification. All elements demonstrated a high level of fragmentation, and the majority of surfaces were subjected to some root damage and/or cortical exfoliation. Cut marks were identified on a many elements from contexts 50 and 53, suggesting butchery of animals. For example, cut marks were found on a distal sheep/goat tibia-fibula and transversely across the shaft of a cow rib from 53. Of the identifiable bone fragments, the majority represented the limbs, ribs and teeth of expected domesticated animals: Sheep/goats, pigs, and cattle. Only two horse bone fragments were isolated; one from each context 53 and 59. Table 2 - Animal bone (Number of fragments) Context Fragments Weight 198g 124g 2002g 56g 42g 240g 70g 30g Sheep/Goat Pig Cattle Horse Other Struck flint by Steve Ford A single recently broken struck flint was recovered from context 60. It is not closely datable but is likely to be of Neolithic or Bronze Age date. 5

8 Shell Two deposits (52 and 53) contained fragments of edible oyster shell (Table 3). Table 3 Oyster shell Deposit No Wt (g) Metalwork Forty-six fragments of iron were recovered during the fieldwork. The majority of these were iron nail fragments (Table 4). A similar concentration was recorded during the earlier evaluation on the site, suggested to be evidence of robbing and re-use of the structural timbers. Table 4. Metalwork Deposit No Wt (g) Type Nail Nail Nail Nail Lump+ iron stone Nail Metalworking Debris One fragment of bloom slag weighing 16g was recovered from (52). Building material Stone roof tile fragments were recovered from deposits 53 and 60. Red tile fragments were also recovered from the surface of deposit 56 and from deposit 54 (Table 5). Table 5 Stone and fired clay roofing material Deposit No Wt (g) COMMENT red floor tile fragments stone roof tile with perforation red tile fragments stone roof tiles with perforation, hone stone and mortar fragments Glass Five fragments of glass were recorded, those fine green glass fragments from deposit 51 were modern (Table 6). Table 6 Glass Deposit No Wt (g) Comment Green bottle body sherds Highly patinated bottle shoulder fragment Clay Pipe Fourteen fragments were recorded, the majority were stem fragments, together with one stem with the heel of the bowl still surviving (Table 7). This is a thin flat base foot, dating the pipe probably to the early 19 th century and has the stamp H on either side (Oswald 1975). 6

9 Table 7 clay pipe Deposit No Type Stems, one with small heel of early form 54 2 All stems Conclusion A trench 10m by 2m was hand excavated across the site of the moated manor house. Archaeological deposits discovered in the trench included limestone wall foundations, the edge of the moat, a buried land surface and demolition rubble. A range of finds were also retrieved including medieval and post-medieval pottery, animal bone, metalwork and tile fragments. This work together with that of the earlier Time Team project indicates that the site is of considerable archaeological interest. It has shown that substantial elements of stone buildings survive on the site, and that preservation of both structural and artefactual evidence is high-quality. More substantial work in the form of an open area excavation would be required to unravel the complex life of the site but this is unlikely to occur unless the site is threatened by development or highly destructive natural erosional process. Despite the limited nature of the investigation, this project was successful on a number of fronts: it has added to the archaeological knowledge of the site, sustained the local interest generated by Time Team, and further enabled members of the public to participate in the recording of their past. References BGS, 1982, British Geological Survey, 1:50000, Sheet 236, Solid and Drift Edition, Keyworth Mills, A D, 1998, Dictionary of English Place-Names, Oxford Pine, J (in prep) Prehistoric and Roman Landscape at Eysey Manor, Wiltshire, Thames Valley Archaeological Services, Reading Oswald, A, 1975, Clay Pipe For the Archaeologist, British Archaeology Reports 14. WA 2005, Islip Village, Oxfordshire (ISL 05) Time Team 2005, Wessex Archaeology draft report, Salisbury Williams, A and Martin, G H, 2002, Domesday Book, a complete translation, London 7

10 APPENDIX 1: Trench details Trench No. Length (m) Breadth (m) Depth (m) Comment m Topsoil and subsoil onto demolition debris, stone foundations and a moat. 8

11 APPENDIX 2: Feature details Cut Deposit Type 50 Topsoil 51 Subsoil 52 Deposit 53 Layer 54 Deposit 2 55 Moat Ditch (Recut) 56 Buried Soil 57 Foundation 58 Layer 59 Layer 60 Foundation 61 Foundation 62 demolition rubble 1 63 Moat Fill 64 Foundation 65 Foundation 1 66 Moat Ditch 9

12 SITE SITE SP Manor Farm, Islip, Oxfordshire, 2005 Archaeological Evaluation MLI 05 Figure 1. Location of site within Islip and Oxfordshire. Reproduced from Ordnance Survey Pathfinder 1092 at 1: Ordnance Survey Licence

13 SITE SP MFI 05 Manor Farm, Islip, Oxfordshire, 2005 Archaeological Evaluation Figure 2. Detailed location of site in relation to Manor Farm. Reproduced from Ordnance Survey digital mapping under licence. 1:1250

14 14400 Trench A SITE SP MFI 05 Manor Farm, Islip, Oxfordshire, 2005 Archaeological Evaluation Figure 3. Location of site and trenches excavated. Reproduced from Ordnance Survey digital mapping under licence. 1:1250

15 58.91m N m m m m S 59.37mAOD 52 2 N = Natural geology

16 Plate 1. All ages got involved: Trench 1 removing turf Plate 1. Trench 1: Hand cleaning the trench. MFI06

17 Plate 3. Rubble 52 and wall 60, Scale 0.1m Plate 4. Foundation 57. Scale 0.1m MFI06

18 Plate 5. Excavation of stone foundations. Plate 6. Investigating the stone foundations. MFI06