Posts Tagged ‘Saxon’

Wessex Archaeology at Work

September 13, 2015

Back in 1990 a Saxon burial site was discovered on the Grove Farm estate.

Wessex Archaeology set to work on the Grove Farm site

Wessex Archaeology set to work on the Grove Farm site

Building work was temporarily halted so that Wessex Archaeology could investigate.


The dig uncovered people who lived in the area more than 1000 years ago.


Of course, the archaeologists worked very carefully and methodically.

Archaeologists at work at Grove Farm in 1990

Archaeologists at work at Grove Farm in 1990

Other finds could tell the experts much about the way of life led by our ancestors.

Hundreds of other finds

Hundreds of other finds

Very little of this material is at Market Lavington Museum. We are not a designated archaeology centre. But we do have many photographs and the Wessex Archaeology report.


Doing the dig

June 1, 2015

Today we are looking back just 25 years, but also 1000 or more years. But let’s start with the summer of 1990. The first new houses have been built on the Grove Farm estate. An early resident, with a knowledge of archaeology realised he was finding Saxon items in the garden. Building work was temporarily halted and Wessex Archaeology were called in to carry out a full investigation. And here we see one of their team working on what is clearly a very hot day. A skeleton has been uncovered on what is now thought to be a rather high status Saxon burial ground.

Archaeological dig at Grove Farm, Market Lavington - 1990/91

Archaeological dig at Grove Farm, Market Lavington – 1990/91

This archaeological dig transformed our knowledge of the old history of our area. Let’s quote from .

Large quantities of Romano-British coins and other artefacts have been found in excavations to the north of the church, and although the occupation site was not excavated the indications are that it was of relatively high status, with quantities of high quality pottery remains found. Finds date from the third and fourth centuries and the indications are that the building was 4th century. It would be reasonable to suppose that this was the centre of a farming estate, similar to the one recently found at Bradford on Avon.

If this was the case then the estate was taken over by the Saxons as excavations in 1991 uncovered an Anglo-Saxon estate of the 5th century that was situated on the then western boundary of Saxon territory in this county. The economy seems to have been based on large flocks of sheep kept for their wool, but there is also much evidence of cattle kept for meat. The estate dates from the early occupation of the 5th century and there is a Pagan Saxon cemetery with burials from the 5th to the 7th centuries. A total of 42 graves were excavated but the indications are that there were more and other, probably later, cemeteries. Large amounts of pottery shards were recovered, indicating occupation in the early, middle and late Saxon periods. From evidence of the grave goods, and the fact that horses were kept, we know that this was a prosperous community of reasonably high social status. Bone finds indicate that cattle, goats, pigs, fowls and geese were all kept for food, while wild deer were hunted. Saxon settlement was on the brow of the greensand ridge and seems to have moved along it at different times. The areas of the churchyard and the garden of the Old House are settlement sites. There could well have been a wooden Saxon church on the site of the present one and it is also likely that there was a Roman building in this prominent position

Along with other evidence it was realised that the area we now call Market Lavington had been continuously settled by people for thousands of years. Our oldest existing buildings, the Church and the Old House are really quite modern in the overall history.

Most of the artefacts from the dig are kept at Devizes Museum which is the archaeology centre for our area. We think (and so do our visitors) that Market Lavington Museum is fantastic but some of these archaeological remnants need care and conservation by professional experts. We do have a cabinet containing finds but when it comes to human remains we have photographs.

Why not pay us a visit to see just what a superb collection we have from millions of years ago to the modern day.

Tha Girt Harchaeology

May 3, 2014

My title today is the title of a Wiltshire dialect poem by Edward Slow who was born in 1842. He was, we believe, referring to the large number of visitors who came to see the archaeology of Wiltshire.

Market Lavington would not have been on the archaeology trail back then. Locals always knew that ancient items were found from time to time, but the proof didn’t come until about 1990 when work on the new Grove Farm estate was progressing. In fact, discoveries made brought work to a halt so that ‘tha girt harchaeology’ could descend on the village and excavate Roman and Saxon sites.

Here we have a photo of the archaeologists at work.

Archaeological dig in progress in Market Lavington - Serptember 1990

Archaeological dig in progress in Market Lavington – Serptember 1990

From the shapes dug, I think we can say that graves were being excavated. This dig was going on in September 1990 and items from 2000 or so years earlier were being unearthed.

This skeleton is not that old, dating to the Saxon era, little more than 1000 years ago.

A Saxon skeleton, as found

A Saxon skeleton, as found

We have a few bits and pieces from the dig in our museum, but we are not an archaeology centre so most items have been stored elsewhere.

Possible Saxon pot shards.

July 2, 2010

The garden of number 13 High Street in Market Lavington has proved a rich source of pot shards for the owner. It seems that in the past the back garden contained other dwellings, which have been demolished. Of course, we have no knowledge of what was actually there before written records were made, and little writing was done before the nineteenth century or even the 17th century when the existing buildings were new.. The evidence from the pot finds could suggest dwellings were there much earlier. The earliest finds so far have been these pieces which have been dated as late Saxon or early Norman – 10th to 12th century.

10th to 12th century pottery shards found in Market Lavington and now at Market Lavington Museum

Could these finds suggest that the Saxon area of Market Lavington extended off the known, Grove Farm area and that 1000 years ago our forebears lived in parts of the present village.

Market Lavington Museum is delighted to have these indications of long ago life amongst its collection of artefacts.