Test Pit 12

Test Pit 12. The Swan Public House (HXN 068)

Property description and location

Swan Inn

The Swan is situated at the south end of Low Street, adjacent to the combined Goldbrook/ Chickering Beck watercourse. The Inn and its outbuildings form a Grade II* listed building (NHLE No. 1352375) dating to the 15th or early 16th century. Formerly known as Bishops Lodge it was reportedly built in 1480 by the Bishop of Norwich and lies on the eastern edge of the medieval deer park also owned by the Bishops. The tithe map and apportionment records the property as 'Swan Inn etc' in the ownership of Sir Edward Kerrison.

Test Pit description

Pit 12

The test pit was placed in the centre of a small area of lawn between the main building c.12m to the north and the river, c.8m to the south, and adjacent to the road. The upper c.4m of the pit contained modern deposits beginning with a topsoil, c.0.1m to 0.3m thick, Context 1, then a deposit of yellow sandy soils, Context 2, and a thin band with frequent lime mortar, Context 3.

These sealed a thick layer of fine mid/light brown silty loam, Context 4, with flecks of charcoal. This extended to a depth of at least 1m, possibly changing to a greyer loam with charcoal flecks towards the base of the pit.

Test Pit finds summary

Eight sherds of medieval date were recovered from this pit. One of these is an early medieval ware dating to the 11th-12th century but the remainder of them date to the late 12th-14th century. Two sherds of LMT dating to the 15th-16th century were present, and fragments of sixteenth century redwares including GRE and IGBW. Other pottery is dated to the Victorian period or later.

Other artefacts include a piece of struck flint flake possibly dating to the later prehistoric period, and fragments of slag or clinker. Post-medieval glass and other finds of this date were also present.

Test Pit Discussion

Although the ground level of the lawn is consistent with that of the road and the main building it is probable that the lawn may have originally sloped down to the adjacent river channel and that ground-levels have been built up and levelled, the modern bank now being a steep c.1.5m drop. Post-medieval and Victorian finds were largely limited to the upper fills of the pit, suggesting that these deposits do represent such a relatively modern build up of ground levels and that Context 4 is a former topsoil, likely alluvial in origin. This horizon is probably late medieval in date and the possible change in colour towards the base of the pit may be a yet older preserved soil horizon. Although two 16th-18th century sherds of pottery were recorded near the base of the pit these may be intrusive.

The small quantities of 11-14th century pottery in Context 4 indicate earlier activity in the vicinity, prior to construction of the current Swan Inn, and form the first real direct evidence of medieval settlement in the historic core of Low Street.

Table of Finds

Spit No Context No Sieved? Display/ Keep? Pottery Post Med/ modern Medieval CBM Fired Clay Mortar/ Plaster Clay Pipe Glass Flint Slate Plastic Iron Nails Iron Other Other Metalwork Animal Bone Oyster Shell Land Snail Comments
1 1 Yes % uncertain Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Large lump of slag
2 1 Yes % uncertain Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
3 1 Yes % uncertain Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 1 Whelk shell
4 1? Yes % uncertain Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes - metal sheet Yes Yes 2 sheep phalanges, struck flakes, modern or later prehistoric
5 4 Yes % uncertain 1 of 2 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Clinker, clay pipe bowl L17th C
6 4 Yes % uncertain Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Some large sooted body sherds
7 4 Yes % uncertain 1 of 2 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Includes large sooted sherds
9 4 Yes % uncertain Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Details of Pottery Finds

Spit No Context No Display/ Keep? Post Med/ modern Medieval Details
1 1 Yes IGBW x 1 (16th-18th C), Victorian +1
2 1 Yes 19th century wares
3 1 Yes GRE (16th-18th C), Victorian +
4 1? Yes 1 GRE, 1 IGBW (16th-18th C), Victorian +
5 4 1 of 2 Yes 4 sooted medieval body sherds (L12th-14th C), including 1 EMW (11th-12th C)
6 4 Yes Yes Yes 2 LMT (15th-16th C), 4 MCW (L12th-14th C)
7 4 1 of 2 Yes 4 MCW (L12th-14th C)
9 4 Yes 1 GRE (16th-18th C), 1 PMRW (16th-18th C)