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Allotment finds

I'm not really sure where to put this (or even if it should be on here at all to be honest) but I have no idea where to start.

We've had an allotment for two months so far (formerly a farmer's field and pretty much a new plot) and we've spent ages digging and improving the soil in a third of it (about 20 foot by 20). In that time we've dug up quite a lot of terracotta, ceramics, bone, glass and even a WWII service uniform badge.

This pot's about 4-5 inches deep with various bits and bobs.


And this is the most interesting little piece of pottery so far.

I've tried looking for old maps of the area and trying to research what various bits of pot might be and how old they are but am not having much luck. I know there has been an army base nearby as well as a decoy airfield during the war, but my searches for more information (including local history sites) has drawn a blank.

I'm hoping some knowlegeable chap or chapess might be able to identify the second pic, or have some suggestions on how I could find out more about what we've been digging up.




  • You could always got to a local museum and ask their advice.
  • Councils have to employ an archaeologist (think it's compulsory).  I'd have a look at your council web site and get their number, and take it from there.  Please post back what you find out, as I'm intrigued as to what you've got there (I mean the services badge might have fallen off during a walk, but a spoon??).  Local council archaeologist will at least be able to date the bits of pot you've got there.  Other things would be to buy a couple of old OS maps of the area and have a look to see if anything's marked.  I bought one from 1850 or something, and there are all manner of curiosities on there, including a communal cholera burial pit!  You can buy the old maps from the OS web site.  Have you looked for a hallmark on the spoon, or is it just a rusty metal one, rather than a tarnished silver one?

  • A good bet would be a local history group. You can find them all over the place. Or even elderly locals who have lived in the area for some time.

    The chances are that most of those items are Victorian, or later. It would still be very interesting to make a collection all of that material, as you have done.

    If you're really keen you could dig a 1-meter square test pit, a la Time-Team, and see how far down you find stuff. You need to do that systematically. Take out the top 10cm, and sieve it; then take out the next 10cm and sieve it; etc. A by-product of doing that is the pile of sieved soil that makes wonderful compost.

    If you want to see an old map of the area, then you can see the 1887, 1905, and 1925 large scale maps, for free on the Ordnance Survey website. Just put the postcode in the searchbox here, then select the date, and click 'enlarge':

  • The only thing I'm finding with my Marathon Bramble Clearing dig is more and more bramble rootsimage

  • LeggiLeggi Posts: 489

    Thanks for the advice, I feel silly for not thinking of a local museum myself. image

    Mummy, the spoon is not very old as it's an early form of electroplate, unfortunately. I hope once you've battled your way through the brambles you find wonderful things in your garden though. image

    Gary, thanks for the link I'll have a look in a minute and report back. We've been sieving the soil to break up large lumps of clay and remove countless flints to a depth of about 18 inches, the bits of pottery and that are all kind of by-products of trying to sort the soil out. I agree with you that it's most likely to all be from the Victorian era apart from quite a lot of pieces of Kent peg tiles and a few small unglazed terracotta pieces.

    We have asked the locals but the area the allotment is in is relatively new to housing having grown in to a commuter town for London, little remains of the small villages the towns swamped, and those who remember the area as it was are sadly very rare.

  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 4,297

    Hope you find less stuff than we have unearthed here. We reckon to have taken about 30 tons of rubbish to the local recycling yard over the last 18 years from a 1 acre plot of land.

    In one area I was clearing I found an old puchchair (sans enfant) upright, buried in unrotted domestic refuse.  We went down over a metre and never found the original soil level. That was in an area of about 20 feet by 16.

    Elsewhere I found a  pit about a yard square, full of broken glass. I dug down the side of it and the deeper I went  the older the glass got. Again I never reached the bottom.

    Every time a mole digs down in the Damson wood at the bottom of the garden, it pushes up crockery, glass, bits of metal.

    However I think the worst stuff we have found is batteries. Hundreds of them, from the old lead accumulator types to modern torch batteries. They turn up almost every where.  We had to put the Veg areas in the place where there was the least number of them, not where we would have liked to put them.

  • LeggiLeggi Posts: 489

    Why on earth was/is there so much stuff burried on your land Berghill?

    I've looked through the maps going back to 1859 and it appears there hasn't been anything built on the land during that time, there's a farm house nearby, but it's still there now, and the land up until the 60's was wooded and then became used for agriculture. I'm guessing that the things we've been digging up have come from backfill on the plot from other residential building areas which surround it.

    The next thing I'll do is contact local history groups to see if they're interested in taking a look at the bit and bobs. 

    (Sorry for the late reply but my laptop died this week image )

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