Garden Test Pits

Garden Test Pits

Although test pits dug in the gardens of modern houses rarely turn up interesting archaeology, they very often produce dozens of finds from the last few hundred years. These may be from human activity in earlier dwellings on the site or material deposited in the field in which the house was built.

A recent dig in the garden of a cottage which probably dates from the second half of the 1700s, produced probably the largest quantity of finds we have ever had from a single test pit. There had clearly been a lot of disturbance in the soil above the natural sandstone, as earlier finds were found well above Victorian ceramics. This probably represents a gradual accumulation of household waste as well as almost three centuries of gardening - the soil was uniformly fine from surface to natural, a depth of around half a metre.

The photo above shows the quantity of clay pipe fragments recovered from a single layer or 'spit' of this test pit. Some of these were made in the 17th century so might indicate an earlier dwelling or people working in, or simply passing through, the fields. In addition to these bits of pipe, there were dozens of fragments of pottery and glass in each spit, some of which may also pre-date the present house. Details of this particular test pit will be included in the overall Community Archaeology report which will be available on this website in due course.