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Excavation: Period 5 Post-Conquest Occupation

Cecily Spall and Nicky Toop

Intensity of occupation at the site is not well-defined in the post-Conquest period. A number of features have tentatively been assigned to this period due to the presence of specific pottery types, although allocation to Period 5 by pottery alone is difficult for a number of reasons. An analysis of features, which belonged potentially to an early Norman phase, was undertaken in order to detect a possible phase of activity equivalent to Period 4 identified at 46-54 Fishergate, which was thought to pertain to the first church at the site. Some graves within the cemetery at Fishergate House contained pottery potentially of this date, and, with the recent series of radiocarbon dates, it has been ascertained that burial continued within the cemetery during this period (see The Cemetery).

Location of Period 5 features (Interactive SVG image)

Examination of the ceramic found that many features contained pottery which was not used later than the mid-12th century, although in a number of cases only single sherds were recovered, and many were small and abraded in secondary contexts, predominantly posthole backfills. A large number of these features have been allocated to later phases, since they clearly belonged in alignments within later structures, or were probably associated with nearby later features. In addition, some wares, such as Stamford, Gritty, and Beverley Wares, can belong to periods earlier than the late 11th century, or later than the mid-12th. Indeed, some features which appeared to belong to Period 5 on the basis of pottery dates contained CBM forms which date from the late 12th century onwards. Consequently, allocation to this period has not been undertaken on pottery dates alone, and stratigraphic and spatial relationships, the quantity of pottery contained within features, and the later date provided by CBM, have also been considered.

The resulting Period 5 feature map does not indicate any particular hotspots of activity, although the identified features might be considered precursors to activity of the early monastic Period 6. The distribution of Period 5 features shows that Period 6 features follow wherever the possible post-Conquest features have been identified. However, this apparent pattern of pit clusters shared between Period 5 and 6 may relate more to the problems of secure dating evidence for the post-Conquest period than a real archaeological period.

At Fishergate House, a series of features could be more confidently dated to the post-Conquest period, since they contained the restricted Splashed Glazed Wares, alongside the longer-lived wares listed above. Additionally, the succeeding periods saw less intense activity, other than grave-digging, and less residuality and recycling of domestic material occurred. No activity of this date was encountered within the bounds of Intervention 1, apart from graves. A concentration of activity was encountered close to the southern limits of Intervention 4, and more extensive archaeology of this period may lie in this area. Features allocated to this period within Fishergate House primarily comprised scattered rubbish pits and boundary ditches, some of which were found to disturb burials which lay outside the contracted burial ground (see The Cemetery).

Within Intervention 15 at Blue Bridge Lane, far fewer features have been securely identified as representing Period 5 occupation; to the west, two postholes were identified with Period 5 ceramic within their backfills, although ceramic assessment considered them to be residual and they have been grouped into later periods (F163B and F304B). Other western feature included only two postholes (F262B and F264B) and an isolated rubbish pit (F216B), which have been assigned to this period; to the east, a small scatter of rubbish pits and postholes have been identified (F127B, F129B, F255B, F258B, F265B, F266B and F272B). The group cannot be associated clearly with structural activity, and the features may simply contain sherds relating to the period after the mid-12th century; their distribution would appear to adumbrate a hot spot of activity in the succeeding periods.

On reflection, too few features within Blue Bridge Lane could be assigned a Period 5 date even tentatively to allow many conclusions to be drawn. There were clear monastic predecessors within the 46-54 Fishergate area, allocated to Period 4 (Kemp and Graves 1996, 70), which suggests that some activity of this date may well have been present in the area of Blue Bridge Lane. However, features could only loosely be allocated to this period and did not clearly belong to an Early Norman date, since pottery mixing obscured potentially clear assemblages of this date. At Fishergate House, where a toft system appears to have been imposed during Period 4, Period 5 occupation was clearer, since occupation was not so intense and later pottery types were rarer. Nonetheless, the evidence for occupation consisted only of pit digging, suggesting continuous occupation from Period 4 located at the southernmost extreme of the area of investigation, but not more than that.

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