Court House Excavation Summary

Excavation Summary: Phase 1

Bromborough Court House

At the end of the first phase of excavation at Bromborough Court House we were able to open five trenches.

Trench 6 Move

Across the entirety of the site the topsoil and subsoil produced a great number of modern and post-medieval finds, which we will be washing and processing over the next few months.

Some of the finds from the first week of excavation

Some of the finds from the topsoil and subsoil

In Trench 1 we recovered evidence of a wattle fence line, a rubble spread and several cuts. These appear to be all post-medieval in date based on the associated finds and stratigraphic relationship. These have been recorded and the trench closed down.

IMG_0622

Trench 1 with the remainder of the wattle fence line, rubble spread and huge tree root system.

The Huxley's finishing the last of the section drawings in T1

The Huxley’s finishing the last of the section drawings in T1

In Trench 2 we also uncovered a series of post-medieval/modern ditches, which were cut into a clay layer. Initially we believed this clay layer to be natural based on its homogeneity and the fact that no finds were recovered from it. However, when cleaning back the trench edges we noticed that we had just nicked the edge of a cut, which looked a lot like a ditch, filled by this clay material. The fact that this clay sits within a human-made ditch (or pit) tells us that this layer is not the natural bolder clay that covers this area of Wirral. This was an important discovery as we would find out in our later trenches.

Cut [208] showing in the section side.

Cut [208] showing in the section side.

As the dig progressed we moved to another area of the site to open the remainder of our trenches. Trenches 3 and 4 were sited to explore anomalies identified during our earlier resistivity survey. These were very close together with the intention of joining them up at a later date if they proved fruitful. We were not disappointed!

Once we had worked our way through the topsoil and subsoil we began to unearth compacted areas of sandstone and stained soil. It was unclear at this point whether this was archaeology or geology. We suspected we were dealing with degraded sandstone caused by a perched water-table approximately 50cm below the ground surface. The water appears to have saturated the sandstone and leached part of it away to cause the staining we were picking up in the soil.

Trench 3 with the stained soil and degraded sandstone

Trench 3 with the stained soil and degraded sandstone

Sheila and Fran excavating the degraded material.

Sheila and Fran excavating the degraded material.

As this material was sitting within the clay layer identified in Trench 2 we knew this sandstone must have been placed there and was likely due to human activity. Once we had excavated the material from around the sandstone blocks it became apparent that we were dealing with a deliberate sandstone structure, possibly small walls, footings and/or foundations, as well as substantial post-holes and/or pits. As many of these features disappear into the section sides it has been difficult to identify their purpose and they will need further exploration. Our final trench (5) also turned up another sandstone features  although this is highly degraded.

Trench 4 with probable post-hole in the  top-left corner

Trench 4 with probable post-hole in the top-left corner

Trench 3 after the removal of the degraded material

Trench 3 after the removal of the degraded material

Trench 5

Trench 5

What these three trenches tell us is that we definitely have archaeology surviving on site below the medieval and post-medieval layers. Sadly, due to the waterlogged nature of the site we have no dating evidence at present to suggest a timescale for this activity. We have taken multiple soil samples from around these features, so we are hoping that once these have been processed we will have material that we can send for Radiocrabon dating, which will help us date these features.

Buckets full of our environmental samples

Buckets full of our environmental samples

We are planning further work on site to follow-up some of the features we have unearthed and open one final trench. Once we have dates for these we will let our volunteers know how to get involved.

Finally Big Heritage would like to say a huge thank you to Wirral Autistic Society and Bromborough Travelodge for the their support throughout the project and especially to our volunteers who gave many hours of their time.

Some of our volunteers and staff on the final dig day

Some of our volunteers and staff on the final dig day

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