Test Pit 17

Test Pit 17. Moatfield, Abbey Hill (HXN 069)

Property description and location

Moatfield is a modern property, to the north of Abbey Farm and its various outbuildings and together the properties occupy the site of the former Hoxne Priory (HXN 004). The garden of Moatfield lies within the north-west corner of the Priory precinct and includes the square medieval moat/fishpond, with central island that likely contained a dovecote. The moat is part of a wider complex of fishponds to the east and was probably connected to this network by a leat from its north-east corner. The bulk of the Priory precinct is Scheduled (NHLE no. 1020447), excluding the modern complex of farm buildings and the northern half of Moatfields gardens.

Skynner shows Abbey Farm and several farm buildings to the north of the property but the moat is not depicted and the garden of Moatfield is shown as open space. The tithe map clearly shows the farm buildings, moat and fishponds (named in the apportionment as 'Abbey Farm yards etc' owned by Sir Edward Kerrison). During the 20th century a series of large barns were added to the farm complex but the gardens of Moatfield stayed open as pasture until the construction of the house.

Test Pit description

Pit 17

The test pit was placed c.10m to the rear of the property in an open area of grass lawn, just to the north of the Scheduled area which encompasses the moat, 10m to the south. The lawn slopes very slightly up from south to north towards the northern edge of the moat. The boundary of the garden 8m to the north corresponds to the original priory precinct boundary.

A compact 0.35m thick topsoil, Context 1, overlaid c.0.15m of mid/dark yellow/brown silty clay with flecks of chalk and iron pan and scattered flints. This in turn sealed Context 3, a 0.2m thick layer of finer mid yellow/brown silty clay with fewer inclusions. The natural clay subsoil was fully exposed at a depth of 0.7m.

Test Pit finds summary

Six fragments of MCW were identified, dating to the late 12th-14th centuries. Two of these were accompanied by fragments of LMT dating to the 15th and 16th century and a fragment of Raeren stoneware dating to c. 1480-1600. Other post-medieval redwares were present in Spit 3. Small quantities of clay pipe and animal bone were also identified.

Test Pit Discussion

The compact topsoil and the near complete absence of any finds later than the 16th century corresponds with the mapping evidence which suggests that the garden has been open land, probably in use as pasture rather than arable, throughout the post-medieval history of Abbey Farm. This is further supported by the fact that the height of the garden is c.0.3-0.5m higher than the modern gardens and fields to the north, there being a sharp drop along the northern boundary, where ground levels have probably been gradually reduced by arable farming practices. This landuse has meant that buried soil layers, Contexts 2 and 3, have been preserved and probably represent a medieval soil horizon. However although some 12th-14th century pottery was collected from these deposits, relating to when the garden was part of the Priory grounds, they were of limited quantity and, combined with the absence of any cut features, this suggests that this was only a peripheral area, separated by the moat from the main centre of the precinct.

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
2 1 100% Yes
3 1 100% 1of 2 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
4 1 100% Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
5 2 100% Yes Yes Yes Yes
6 3 100% Yes Yes Yes Yes

Details of Pottery Finds

Spit No Context No Display/ Keep? Post Med/ modern Medieval Details
2 1
3 1 1 of 2 Yes 2 reduced LMT (15th-16th C) 1 PMRW, 1 Essex redware
4 1 Yes Yes Yes 2 MCW (L12th-14th C), 4 LMT + 1 RAER (1480-1550)
5 2 Yes Yes 1 small sherd MCW (L12th-14th C)
6 3 Yes Yes 3 sherds MCW (L12th-14th C) including large body sherd