Worcestershire Young Archaeologists Club

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Hanley Swan 2006

Hanley ExcavationThe Worcestershire Young Archaeologists Club carried out an excavation at Hanley Swan near Malvern in November 2006. npower gave us a grant with which to buy excavation equipment including trowels and buckets, and staff from the Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeology Service came along and taught the YACs about excavation and recording techniques.

Hanley excavationDocumentary evidence tells us that Hanley Swan was the centre of a major pottery manufacturing industry during the medieval period but no one has ever found any of the actual kilns. Large quantities of 16th century pottery have been dug up in the back garden of a 17th century (or earlier) Listed farmhouse over the last few years. This pottery included a number of ‘wasters’ (poorly fired pots that were thrown away), suggesting that the kiln site could be located here

Hanley digOn the 4th and 5th November 25 of our members, armed with our new trowels, excavated a series of testpits in the garden of the farmhouse in an attempt to find the kilns. Everyone had an excellent time and learnt a lot. We found a thick layer of dark soil that probably relates to the orchards on the site in the 18th and 19th century. Below this were several pits and a small ditch

                          

We didn't find the kilns, but we did find ‘waster’ roof tiles and bricks in the pits as well as pottery, indicating that these were probably made on site. The wasters matched the bricks used to build the farmhouse and the tiles matched those still on the roof. As the pottery is mid 16th century, it is now thought likely that the farm is mid 16th century too. That’s earlier than originally thought. The YAC excavations have not only contributed to the understanding of pottery manufacture in Hanley, but also potentially to the dating of the buildings in this area.

 

Among the wasters was a single piece of decorated floor tile, indicating that these may have been produced here as well. This is very exciting, as we don’t know of many sites in Worcestershire where decorated tiles were manufactured.

 

We’d all like to say a big thank you to npower for providing the digging equipment and the staff at WHEAS for helping us to dig and taking care of washing the finds and writing an excavation report. Also, most importantly, to Mark and Sara for allowing us to come and destroy their garden with our muddy boots and trowels!

 

 
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