Tannery Cottages – Irthlingborough

The Irthlingborough Archaeological Society intends to evaluate the Tannery Cottages Site in 3 Phases.

Phase 1 (completed)

Half the land was cleared of all natural overgrowth and a geophysical magnetometer survey was completed by Bartlett-Clark Consultancy. This identified the presence of archaeological remains of probable Iron Age and/or Roman date.

Phase 2 (completed)

Based on the geophysical survey results the Society did a small targeted excavation to establish the date and types of activity present.

This was supervised by Oxford Archaeology with a full-time professional Archaeologist on site to teach and assist the society members in excavation and recording techniques.

Oxford Archaeology also provided health and safety documentation to enable the works and site safety briefings to all participants. This took place during the later part of October to encompass half term week.

The weather was very kind to us and we could dig every day in relatively warm weather. We had a welfare unit on site to proved shelter, a place to sit down and an area to make tea and coffee.

A programme was arranged by the Society allowing 5-10 local volunteers a day to come to the site to experience how to Dig, with Oxford Archaeology suppling an Archaeologist every day (Monday to Friday) . On the second Thursday we were particularly pleased to receive a visit from the County Archaeological Advisor, Lesley-Ann Mather, who visited with Steve Lawrence (OA Project Manager) to view the works and she was very supportive of the project and pleased by the results.

This very successful initial Dig saw the attendance of over 20 individual volunteers.

The excavation area uncovered the stone foundations of at least two Roman buildings with the stand out find being a rare carved stone slab. This was nearly 3′ long 1′ wide and 3″ thick and depicted Neptune holding his trident and riding a hippocampus (seahorse).

Other finds included Roman pottery, a brooch and coins mostly dating from the 3rd-4th century. Plans to wash and process the pottery as a public event with the Society are being formulated with OA.

A public presentation and a summary report on this phase of excavation will follow in 2018.

Phase 3 – The Future

With advice from OA, we are planning further geophysical magnetometer survey to cover more of the site. This will be combined with the existing results to provide a better understanding of the extent of archaeological remains present to help target future fieldwork.

We will then be in a position to apply for funding to undertake larger and more detailed excavations over a number of seasons. The potential of this site is enormous with enough well-preserved archaeology present to keep IAS busy for many years.

We will also be able to establish a permanent exhibition and film of what happened at the dig and display some of the artefacts at the Wild Life Trust Wetland Centre at Rushden Lakes.

Fieldwork will generally avoid the bird nesting season. However, it may be possible to arrange longer summer seasons as long as we do not disturb any nesting birds.

The IAS also has ambitions to do an Industrial Archaeological Dig which we hope will include Brick Manufacture, Iron Ore Mining and The rise and fall of the Railways through the area.