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Tour of the archaeology site

This evening I was invited to a tour of the archaeology site I have been working at, led by one of the lead archaeologists. Even though I work there, it was good to get a review of everything that has been discovered in the previous years that I haven’t been there. It also gave me a chance to hear about new developments, including the opening of a new trench on site, which I will hopefully be involved with this weekend!

As well as reviewing all the trenches I listened to the history of the site, which will be presented in a written report and available to read soon. What I didn’t realise till visiting tonight, was just how big Shakespeare’s final house was. Because of what has been discovered through uncovering foundations, New Place was connected to Nash House during the 1530s. In the courtyard they have found evidence of a water source which may well have been shared between the two buildings.

During the first phase of excavation in 2010, the archaeologists  re-exposed the foundations identified by the Victorian archaeologist Halliwell-Phillipps. Halliwell-Phillipps did not do as much extensive archaeology as us and actually stopped when he reached the house foundations and did not recognise, or excavate, the more subtle archaeology. These untouched features and layers have allowed us to gather new information about the house and its layout.

The excavations in recent years have uncovered the cellar of the house and have allowed us to find new objects pre-dating the Victorian and even Tudor period. In fact there have been objects found that reveal the site had Iron Age activity such as a flint tool.

I took photographs of some of the interesting and colourful items in the collection:

Half of a Brill-Boarstall Vessel, 13th-14th Century

Half of a Brill-Boarstall Vessel, 13th-14th Century

These are fragments from half of a large Brill-Boarstall pot. This type of pottery was produced in North Buckinghamshire.

Brill-Boarstall Fragments, 13th-14th Century

Brill-Boarstall Fragments, 13th-14th Century

These are fragments from a green Brill-Boarstall pottery vessel with applied grid-stamp ‘prunts.’

It is interesting to note that more Iron Age items have been found this year but the earliest features identified in phase two of 2011 were storage pits and a truncated occupation layer, dated to the later Iron Age (400-300 BC to AD 43). These prove occupation of Statford-upon-Avon in this period! They were extremely well preserved and there are no other recorded examples of Iron Age (or prehistoric) pits in Stratford, making these very unique.

Artist Impression of New Place

Artist Impression of New Place, Pat Hughes

I have included an image to show just how big New Place would have been during the time of Shakespeare. Shakespeare did not purchase the house till 1597 and by then, it had already been standing for over a hundred years! Needless to say, he needed to do a bit of re-decorating before he moved in with his family.

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