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A sizeable number of archaeological digs have taken place in the Hungerford area over recent years.
Undy's Farm, 1988-89:
One of the most significant was that at Undy's Farm in 1988-89. The area investigated was a 12-hectare site north of Undy's Farm, between the Hungerford to Chilton Foliat Road and the flood plain of the River Kennet.
Evidence was to be found of habitation on the site from the Mesolithic period (10,000BC), Bronze Age (2100-750BC), and the Medieval period (1100-1500AD).
An initial sample survey by Bryn Walters in 1987 had shown medieval pottery, layers of medieval flooring and flint work, some dating from 10,000BC.
The exploration was funded by Trencherwood in advance of the site being developed as Charnham Park Industrial Estate.
The archaeological team was led by Steve Ford (of Thames Valley Archaeological Services). One area revealed a medieval settlement, with the distinct remains of three buildings. The third building had a chalk floor, hearth and bread or malting oven, and a two-metre pit, possibly representing a medieval well.
Elsewhere, there was more evidence of medieval buildings (houses- two made with flint nodules and another constructed of wattle and daub with a rammed chalk floor - and a barn), metalled trackway, metalled yard, and rubbish pits. A hearth showed up as an area of burnt soil.
One structure, a flint-lined pit, baffled the experts. "It was surrounded by gullies and ditches, and was very elaborate," said Mr Ford. There was speculation that it represented the remains of a windmill, oast house or ice house.
A third site revealed what was possibly Berkshire's only example of a Bronze Age ceremonial site. The seven metre diameter site had seven pits around a large central hearth. The pits held posts which had burned down and been replaced on several occasions. In association with this find was a probable fragment of an "Aldbourne cup". These small vessels are normally associated with Early Bronze Age (Wessex II) inhumation burials. Its discovery here was considered "most unusual".
Beyond these three sites, there was evidence of Mesolithic (or possibly earlier Neolithic) flintwork
The finds included:
- 66 pieces of prehistoric flakes or blades
- 336 sherds of Medieval pottery (and one Roman), some probably late Saxon,
- 185 identifiable animal bones (one the tibia from a dog as big as a Great Dane!
- much brick and tile
- many metal finds, including a silver (or silver-plate) buckle possibly late Saxon / early Medieval.
- Undy's Farm, Jun 2007. The dig had taken place in the area behind (north of) the farmhouse
- Looking east towards Undy's Farm, 1989
- Post holes and hearth, at what was a probable Bronze Age ceremonial site
- Typical Bronze Age round house. [For more on Bronze Age re-enactments and Bronze Age swords see www.bronze-age-swords.com ]
- Details of trench 1
- Flint tool from trench 1
The Croft, 1996:
This is a summary of the report on the archaeological investigation at the Hungerford Surgery, The Croft, in May 1996:
The site is situated to the east of Parsonage Lane, south of the parish church and north of the railway line in Hungerford, on what is thought to be the periphery of the Medieval town. The underlying geology is river terrace gravel. A watching brief was carried out in May 1996 by Thames Valley Archaeological Services during topsoil clearance and the digging of foundation trenches for a new Health Authority Clinic. Three pits were discovered, one of which produced animal bone, slag/iron ore, a fragment of quernstone and pottery dated to the 10th to 11th centuries AD. (A full report is deposited with the County Sites and Monuments Record and the site archive will be deposited at Newbury Museum.)
Hungerford Common and Freeman's Marsh, 2005:
English Heritage was commissioned in 2005 yo carry out a detailed project involving the transcription, interpretation and recording of all archaeological features visible on aerial photographs covering Hungerford Common and Freeman's Marsh. The survey took place between February and August 2005 and was part of the Urban Commons Project which involved field investigation and survey of a representative sample of urban common land across England.
Significant archaeological features recorded from the aerial photographs included the probable remains of a prehistoric or Roman field system, as well as later land improvement and landscaping, on Hungerford Common, terracing on Freeman's Marsh and extensive quarrying in both areas. In the environs of the commons extensive post medieval water meadows were surveyed and numerous structures relating to the Second World War Kennet and Avon stop line were recorded.
74-76 High Street, 2006:
In 2006, Wessex Archaeology (Phil Harding) was commissioned by Sovereign Housing Group to undertake the archaeological evaluation of an irregular plot of land, measuring approximately 2,000m2, located to the rear of 74-76 High Street, Hungerford, which has been proposed for residential redevelopment.
The key finds were:
Animal Bone (Find) Post Medieval (MIDAS)
Burnt Flint (Find) Later Prehistoric (MIDAS)
Ceramic Building Material (Find) Medieval (MIDAS)
Clay Pipe (Find) Uncertain (MIDAS)
Copper Alloy Token (Find) Post Medieval (MIDAS)
Glass Bottle (Find) Post Medieval (MIDAS)
Oyster Shell (Find) Uncertain (MIDAS)
Pottery (Find) Medieval (MIDAS)
Pottery (Find) Post Medieval (MIDAS)
Worked Flint (Find) Later Prehistoric (MIDAS)
Shallow Ditches (Monus) Uncertain (MIDAS)
Hungerford Library site, Church Street, 2006:
Thames Valley Archaeological Services (Sean Wallis and A Mundon) were commissioned to carry out an archaeological evaluation of the site before the library was rebuilt and to monitor the site during the rebuild. No significant archaeological deposits were observed.
Folly Dog Leg Field, Eddington, 2008:
Thames Valley Archaeological Services (Andy Taylor) were commissioned to carry out an archaeological evaluation of the site. The only finds were:
Ceramics (Find) Bronze Age (MIDAS)
Lithics (Find) Later Prehistoric (MIDAS)
Pits (Monus) Bronze Age (MIDAS)
Prehistoric (Auto Detected Temporal)
Bronze Age (MIDAS)
21 Charnham Street, 2008:
Thames Valley Archaeological Services (James Lewis) were commissioned to carry out an archaeological evaluation of the site during groundworks. No archaeological finds or features were identified during a watching brief on groundworks for a new building within the historic core of Hungerford.
Charnham Lane, 2010:
Thames Valley Archaeological Services (Steve Ford) were commissioned to carry out an archaeological evaluation of the site.
Seven trenches revealed shallow pits and post holes perhaps forming a small palisaded enclosure. This is not closely dated but likely to be prehistoric (Neolithic or Bronze Age) on the basis of a small collection of struck flint.
Gas Main replacement, Hungerford High Street, 2011:
An archaeological watching brief was undertaken by Cotswold Archaeology (A Wilkindon) during groundworks associated with replacement of a gas main at High Street, Hungerford.
A red-brick wall and concrete surface associated with the canal bridge were exposed during the development. No other features or deposits of archaeological interest were observed during groundworks, and no artefactual material pre-dating the modern period was recovered.
Isbury Cottage, Marsh Lane, 2011:
Thames Valley Archaeological Services (D Millbank) were commissioned to record the current building before demolition.
A 19th-century single storey thatched cottage was photographically recorded. Building recording was carried out as a condition of planning permission to demolish the cottage.
Three Swans Hotel, 2011:
Foundations Archaeology (D King) were commissioned to carry out an evaluation of the site before redevelopment.
No significant archaeological finds or features were found during the evaluation, although evidence of 19th/20th century garden activity was identified in the form of rooting and possible planting beds.
Rear of 5 Charnham Street, 2012:
Thames Valley Archaeological Services (Steve Ford) were commissioned to carry out an archaeological evaluation.
Nothing of archaeological significance was observed in an evaluation of a site within the Charnham suburb of Saxon and medieval Hungerford.