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Colchester Archaeological Trust

CAT Report 646: summary

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An archaeological trial-trenching evaluation on land west of Manfield Lane, Halstead, Essex: April 2012
by Ben Holloway and Howard Brooks
(with contributions from Stephen Benfield)

Date report completed: May 2012
Location: land west of Manfield Lane, Halstead, Essex
Map reference(s): TL 8163 3079 (c)
File size: 661 kb
Project type: trial-trenching evaluation
Significance of the results: *
Keywords: boundary ditch

Summary. An evaluation trench within the footprint of a proposed new build on the western side of Manfield Lane, Halstead, Essex revealed seven late medieval and post-medieval features including a boundary ditch, pits, and post-holes. The boundary ditch aligned well with an extant boundary dividing properties on the Head Street frontage to the west, and confirms that the same boundary originally extended to the Manfield Lane frontage (as shown by OS maps of 1876 and 1923). The 1876 OS map shows that the property boundary was now marked by the southern edge of a building overlying the position of the former ditch, which had clearly been infilled before that date (finds indicate a backfilling date of the 16th/17th century, although an earlier date is possible). OS maps show the gradual clearing of the site between 1876, when it and the Manfield Street frontage were built up, to 1956, when the Manfield Street frontage was completely clear, but a few small structures remained at the rear (on the western side) of the site. Of the six other features, two may pre-date the 16th-/17th-century infilling of the boundary and may be the result of domestic waste-disposal from adjacent houses, but the others are probably contemporary with the gradual clearance of the site between 1876 and the later 20th century (although related finds need not be later than the 19th century). The site has recently been terraced. Finds of Roman material in Halstead have previously been concentrated south of the river. However, the discovery of two Roman potsherds and two pieces of Roman tile here (residual in later contexts) shows that a Roman site may be located nearby, and may include the remains of a structure with a tiled roof.