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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 496: summary

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Archaeological evaluation and excavation at 143-147 High Street, Maldon, Essex July-August 2008
by Howard Brooks and Adam Wightman

Date report completed: February 2010
Location: 143-147 High Street, Maldon, Essex
Map reference(s): TL 85418 06897 (c)
File size: 4795 kb
Project type: Evaluation and Excavation
Significance of the results: **
Keywords: late Anglo-Saxon, medieval, post-medieval, building, mercury, wooden barrel

Summary. The site is located within Maldon’s historic medieval core. During an evaluation by two trial-trenches followed by an area excavation, both in 2008, evidence of occupation from the 10th-11th centuries to modern times was investigated.

The site had been badly truncated, mainly in modern times. Nevertheless, it was possible to discern the following periods of occupation. The earliest (Period 1) is dated to the 10th-11th centuries, and was represented by Thetford-type ware found residually in later contexts. No structures were identified for this period.

Various slots and post-holes dated to the 12th-13th centuries indicate that the earliest structure (Period 2a) identified was probably timber, and located on the street frontage. In the 13th-14th centuries (Period 2b), the earlier structure was replaced by another timber one, to the rear of which was a fence-line defining a property boundary.

The Period 2b structure appears to have remained standing in the 15th-16th centuries (Period 2c). Post-holes representing fence-lines to the rear of the building show that the site was split into three smaller plots. (The site still retains the three plots in its current address: 143, 145, 147 High Street.) An important feature of this period is a 15th-century barrel containing a group of leather off-cuts, possibly dumped material from a cobbler's workshop.

In the post-medieval period (Period 3, 17th-18th centuries), a new building was erected. Although its wall lines are uncertain, its extent is probably defined by a clay floor.

In the 19th century (Period 4), a chimney-stack foundation to the rear of the building is all that survives of what may have been a larger structure. In the later 20th century, the site was occupied by a commercial garage, a major feature of which was a hydraulic lift, the pit for which had destroyed a large block of ground in the centre of the site.

A small group of small finds, including fragments of quern stone, hone, and a spindle-whorl, indicates that a wide range of domestic activities was carried out on the site. A deposit of mercury indicates some light-industrial process (gold-smithing, leather-working, or ?hat-making) in Period 2. Some of the stones found loose on the site have a distant origin, and may have been brought to Maldon as ship's ballast.