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05 Aug 2017
Discover Edmonton and All Saints Church, on Saturday 28th October 2017.
You are invited to join with the Monumental Brass Society at their meeting looking at the history, monuments and personalities of Edmonton and All Saints Church this October. It should be a very interesting afternoon with blue guide Howard Medwell talking on “Edmonton through the ages” as well as talks on the history of the church, the monuments it contains and Charles Lamb who is buried in the churchyard. The newly restored tower will be open for those who wish to climb up. The afternoon will end with tea and cakes and is free to all, no need to book.
All Saints Church at 65, Church St, Edmonton, N9 9AT will be open from 12 midday, with the meeting starting at 2pm.
23 Jul 2017
Today was the last day of our summer dig, and although we spent most of the day recording and backfilling our trenches, the little digging we did do revealed one of the nicest palace features seen on the site in fifty years.
The trench extension in the south east corner of trench 2 was finished, revealing the beautifully preserved base of a circular bread oven, with the remains of the original Tudor kitchen floor in front, and within it, a skim of soot and ash from the last time the oven was fired, at least 360 years ago.
We now think this oven is probably a later replacement to the thoroughly robbed-out one we found nearby on day 9, and this likely explains why the rubble of the other oven was so coarse and included so many complete bricks.
Unlike the demolished features elsewhere, the earlier oven was probably demolished during the palace’s lifetime, when it was decomissioned and the replacement we found today built.
Interestingly, the construction of the newer oven is a mixture of brick and tile - the western half of the exposed wall of the oven (bottom of first 2 pics) being brick and the rest entirely made up of tiles.
Tudor bread ovens worked by setting a fire in the main alcove, and then raking the hot ashes into a pit below. The dough was then placed in the upper part, the oven structure retaining enough heat to bake it. Tiles were used in ovens because they are thinner than brick and so absorb heat quickly and more thoroughly.
Our ovens and the associated well worn kitchen floor are an exteremely evocative piece of archaeology and a significant discovery in the understanding of Henry VIII’s palace, since this is the first time it has been possible to put a definite function to an excavated structure.
It may now be possible to make deductions as to the likely layout of nearby palace elements, since kitchens were never built very far from the main hall and dining rooms in a palace.
The hard work of post-excavation now starts, to make sense of all the complex stratigraphy and multi-phased structures this dig disovered. A full summary of the work will appear in the society newsletter in due course.
A huge thank you is owed to all our members who made this year’s dig possible, especially those who stuck through to backfill despite the threat of torrential rain (which we just barely missed!)
22 Jul 2017
Torrential rain and thunderstorms severely hampered work today, which was mostly confined to planning and some photography and finishing excavation in the two trench extensions we opened yesterday.
The extension that revealed the line of edge-lain roof tiles yesterday is now fully excavated, and revealed a heavily damaged area of edge-lain bricks in front of a skim of ash and rubble.
The evidence is strongly pointing to this being a thoroughly demolished bread oven, a theory that gained more weight as the other extension to the east began to expose a curved brick feature.
We think this may be the base of a more intact oven, with a semicircular front projecting into our brick floored room - the continuation of the floor we found yesterday runs in front of this feature and, as with the first oven the bricks in the floor here appear to be slightly blackened and burnt, which may be evidence of hot ashes being raked out of the oven onto the floor.
We’ve extended so far south now, we should be approaching the line of the substantial southern facade wall of the building we first found in 2014, so if these are ovens they probably had associated chimneys set in this external wall.
Being able to define the function of a building in this way is extremely exciting and a first for the site, and will go a long way to interpreting the arrangement of the palace complex - a key goal of our long term research project.
As excavation has slowed so has the rate of finds, although we’re still being drowned in stoneware jug fragments, including one nice decorated medallion bearing the arms of Amsterdam (pictured).
Unfortunately the bad weather meant we didn’t see as many visitors as we often do on the open day of the dig. Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow and offer one last chance for people to catch a glimpse of our kitchen - there is still a fair amount of trench recording to do and our second oven must be fully excavated and recorded so that it can be backfilled together with the rest of the site by the end of the day.
20 Jul 2017
A brief spell of rain slowed things down slightly this morning but thankfully cleared up by the afteroon, not delaying things too much.
We opened a new trench today (trench 6), to the north of trench 2, looking for a continuation of the partition wall(s) and possibly the floor in our palace building.
Not much progress has been made in this trench yet, but a wall has appeared, running north-south at the west end of the trench.
There’s more work to do on it, but it seems to be more substantial than the narrow room partition walls in trench 2 and last year’s trench, so may be more likely to be a proper full-height brick wall rather than a support for a timber framed construction as with the others.
Decorated stoneware is definitely the theme of this year’s dig - we can scarcely put a trowel in the ground without finding fragments of stoneware jugs/mugs - trench 6 has already produced several sizeable pieces including body, neck and base fragments.
Another bearded man also put in an appearance, similar in style to yesterday’s, but with the lower part of his face rather than the upper.
We also had another fragment of a coat of arms decorated in the same multicoloured glaze as the piece with the figure of a man we found on day 6.
In trench 2, the brick floors are now alsmost fully exposed and the painstaking process of cleaning them for full interpretation, planning and photography has begun.
Interpretation will be no mean feat - there are evidently several phases of development to the upper floor surfaces alone.
Meanwhile, in the south east corner of the floor there is a feature causing much head scratching - the floor seems to have been cut through during demolition and a sizeable pit dug through it.
We spent much of today removing the rubble fill of this cut hoping to see signs of the large wall we recorded yesterday, which we know the upper floor is laid upon and looked to be running in this direction.
The hole has revealed substantial brickwork beneath both upper floors but it is not a wall - the brick work seems to consist of several layers including at least one course of roof tile, and some bricks seem to be laid edge-on as the floors are.
Could these be even earlier floor surfaces? Making sense of this feature is complicated by the messy nature of the demolition cut and will be an important job for tomorrow.
19 Jul 2017
Thankfully the rain just about held off today, and last night’s thunderstorms softened the ground just enough to make digging easier and less dusty than yesterday, not to mention giving our brick floors a handy rinse.
The southern extension to trench 2 made good progress today and is almost finished, uncovering more of the hardy brick surface within our palace building.
The upper floor surface has been truncated in a rough line across the length of the trench revealing, as we suspected earlier in the week, another brick floor beneath.
Similarly to the floor above it, this surface has bricks laid in more than one orientation and also has signs of repair and patching to it (perhaps one of the reasons a new floor was eventually laid on top). There may also be tentative signs of burning on the lower floor, but this will need closer examination tomorrow.
At the east end of trench 2 the large wall was fully excavated, including the disturbed remains of a few roof tiles, clearly deliberately laid along the front of the wall. We think this may be the remains of the base of a small drain set along the front of the original building.
Altogether, the structures in trench 2 are very complex and multi-phased and interpreting their relationships to each other will take some time. At the moment, we think the large wall (pictured) is the earliest phase, representing the original east end of the building, belonging to Sir Thomas Lovell’s palace, circa 1490-1524, which was later remodelled probably by Henry VIII circa 1540, which involved demolishing the wall (probably to extend the building) and relaying the floor on top of it.
As mentioned yesterday, this year’s dig has turned up quite a lot of stoneware fragments including pieces of decorated ‘Bartmann’ jugs, and today while drawing the north section of trench 2 we had a pleasant surprise when the bearded man himself put in an appearance (pictured).
Initial research has suggested that the stoneware fragment we found yesterday with the image of a man may also come from a Bartmann jug, which is quite unusual given that it is decorated in multi colour glaze (Bartmann jugs typically being monochrome).
The face on this fragment is quite a distinctive elongated shape,
which should be highly dateable.
Trench one continues to throw curveballs - what we thought was the robbed out remains of a wall footing paralell to our large drain is now in fact almost certainly another drain, having been very severly disturbed by the roots of a now absent tree.
This new drain runs almost at ninety degrees to the larger one - a trench extension this afternoon established that the large drain truncates the smaller one, so must be later. As in trench 2 we think this may be more evidence of Henry VIII’s remodelling of the palace some time after 1540.
Since the smaller drain has been cut through by the larger, we may
further extend the trench in this area to see if and where it continues
on the far side of the large drain.
Every now and then we’re given a welcome reminder that the Tudors were far from the first people to live in Forty Hall - today this came from the extension to the drain trench, which produced a lovely flint tool.
Prehistoric hunter-gatherers are known to have lived at least briefly in this area of Enfield particularly in the late Neolithic/Early Bronze age, but this tool is probably earlier being typical of the kind of tool produced in the Mesolithic period, around 7,000 to 11,000 years ago, making Henry VIII seem like yesterday!
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