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An Archaeological evaluation of the middle-late Anglo-Saxon settlement at Chalkpit Field, Sedgeford, Northwest Norfolk

Gareth Davies

In 2007, the Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project’s (SHARP)excavations in the Boneyard field were brought to a conclusion, with a significantsample of the population remains retrieved, some of the dynamics of the cemetery/settlement observed, and earlier 1950’s excavations fully relocated. This fieldwork has now entered into post-excavation. As a result, a new angle to the research into theorigins of the village was required, particularly to address some of the key questionsraised by the cemetery excavations; namely, what was the character of the associatedsettlement.Due to an abundance of surface finds of shell and pottery, it has long been suspectedthat the northern extent of the field immediately south of the Boneyard, Chalkpit field(NHER 1079), was the main focus of Middle-Late Saxon settlement activity. Becauseof this, Chalkpit field was chosen by SHARP as the target for further investigation.Since April 2007, therefore, further archaeological investigation has been undertakenat the northern end of Chalk Pit Field, to better understanding the character,chronology and extent of the Middle-Late Saxon settlement. This has included acombined program of fieldwalking (data also collected 1996-7/2002) and geophysicalsurvey; followed-up with the excavation of five test trenches. This report is a write-upof the investigations to date.It was also hoped that this evaluation would not only help to start the characterisationof the Saxon settlement remains at Sedgeford, but also provide valuable data withwhich to start to situate a single site within much wider ongoing debates surroundingearly medieval settlements. The discussion at the end of this report aims to show howhigh quality field survey and excavation, such as at Sedgeford, can make a valuablecontribution, not only enabling the narration of the changing character of a singlesettlement focus, but also -through the use of critical approaches to changingsettlement morphologies and material culture profiles- how this might later contributeto a better understanding of wider changes in economic, political and social dynamics.This report is not entirely complete and specialist reports on the Slag and Quern areawaited. A final publishing strategy is additionally yet to be decided for this piece of work (July 2008), although the interpretation within this report forms a major case-study in the principle author’s forthcoming PHD ‘The Changing Social Identities of the Settlements of North West Norfolk, AD 600-1150 AD’: A local regional and European trade an exchange perspective (Davies, forthcoming). This report is,however, considered sufficient for the SHARP archives and has been submitted to the Norfolk HER at Gressenhall. A summary statement of the findings of this work has been published previously in Norfolk Archaeology XLV (2007), p.232-73.

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