Wymer Field- Final thoughts from our Project Director Mike
First, the name. There is nothing in the annals of the village to call the field Wymer Field; we’ve named it because Janie Wymer owns it and seemed very pleased when we told her!
The field borders Old Hall at the north east and was geophysiced by Dave Bescoby and our team last year- which informed our placing of test pits. The much talked of triple ditch runs across the south eastern corner of the field. The field is used for horse grazing at present but the 1838 tithe map shows it as divided into strips for gardening and small holding. A visitor to our dig remembered it being sown with potatoes in the not too distant past.
It was five years ago that Dave B quipped that you should never dig on the basis of geophysics- and so it was. We dug four pits last year and a further 5 this year. As seems usual with the work we do in the area, we were rich in finds but poor in structures.
Originally I thought that there was a good chance that we might find an industrial area just outside of the ditch where the kind of people lived who wouldn’t be wanted in a nice town- but whose products the inhabitants would be eager to purchase! I’d thought that we would be into a land of post holes and temporary dwellings rather than flint walls. We found neither.
What we did find was pottery, metalwork and coinage that appears to date from Roman, through Saxon and on to medieval times, and coming to and end with Victorian white ware. If there had been any small scale occupation, I think that farming over the centuries had obliterated it- and the pottery was all abraded- a posh word for knocked about by the plough. We only have an enigmatic structure of clay or flint found last year- some kind of oven or kiln perhaps- which has yet to be dated. A beaten chalk floor and a rough cobbled area that we discovered would appear to be part of the cottage complex which existed on the Stoke Road edge of the field, was there in 1838 but had disappeared by 1882. Some of our members are doing more research into the cottages and we hope to be clearer on that in due course.
At the start of our seven days on the field, the weather was cold, windy and miserable. By the last day we were in shirt sleeves. Whatever is or isn’t found, it’s always a pleasure to work with our team; they are endlessly optimistic and we are all learning together which is good to see. And they all get on together’- heard from the sieving team ‘if you say you’ve found a roman coin again I’ll slap you’. (!!) I can’t stress strongly enough what a pleasure it is to see people grow in confidence- the enthusiasm was there already- and to watch our youngest recruit grow over the period from a rank amateur without a pointed trowel to someone who had a real grip on the techniques of digging and the processes we go through.
My sincere thanks to everyone who took part for their support and involvement. Thanks too for the support from the Caistor Hall Hotel for their ‘snug’ where we could find refuge from the wind while eating excellent packed lunches prepared by them.
Our thanks and gratitude to Janie Wymer and Bill Gould for allowing access to the field.
And finally,thanks to the people of the village who visited us regularly and kept us going with their interest and enthusiasm.
A quick word about the future- the Jarrolds have again invited us to work at Old Hall in the last week of August. More later- but put it in your diary!
One final thanks from your Blogger on behalf of everyone
To Mike from all of the volunteers who have been working on the Test Pitting element of the Project for all his hard work, encouragement and support.