Writtle - The
archaeology & history of Writtle's past
|ABOUT HERITAGE WRITTLE
Writtle is a group of local
enthusiasts investigating the
past in the historic Village and Parish of Writtle,
The aims of the Group
investigate, interpret and record
the Village and Parish of Writtle,
its archaeology and history”.
2003 a group of village friends had the opportunity to look
at some pottery that had been found in fields near Writtle, and at the
time had an agreement to field walk and metal detect over the same
a few weeks, a Roman road had been found, along with broken pottery and
some coins and bronze artefacts. Soon after, using local knowledge and
dowsing specialist, a mechanical digger was borrowed, and having
topsoil, there laying exposed after about 1800 years, was a broken
tile (tegula). So an archaeological site was “born“,
and in November
2004, Heritage Writtle was formally constituted.
then, many different aspects of the Heritage and
History of Writtle have been investigated, working closely Writtle
Writtle Archives, together with local land owners, Essex County
Records Office and Chelmsford Borough Council specialists.
archaeological techniques for excavating, recording,
and conserving are used as appropriate, supported by conventional
with GPS for site location.
addition metal detecting is incorporated into the excavating
schedule to maximize the recovery of artefacts, and also to check the
area for artefacts, which are then duly recorded and locations
Spoil from the excavation is also regularly checked with detectors.
with the British Society of Dowsers who have a Special
Interest Group - Archaeology (www.britishdowsers.org),
Heritage Writtle has had confirmed success in determining
potential areas of interest at several locations in the Parish, and in
the lines of roads and tracks, walls etc. Dowsing is considered by us
to be a
useful indicative tool for archaeological work, and is used by most of
Heritage Writtle members.
2009, 2010 and 2011, working with Heritage Writtle, Carenza
Lewis and the HEFA ( Higher Education Field Academy) Team from
University, have organised a series of digging test pits in the Village
Writtle with children from local secondary Schools. The finds determine
patterns of habitation in the past, and HEFA will again be excavating
Writtle in 2012. Additionally we have been working with the Village's
Junior School, introducing the children to archaeology by digging test
the School and showing them how to find , clean and document the
These one day exercises have been popular with the children and the
added to HEFA data.
has been tantalizing occurances of
worked flint from over the Parish of Writtle, and
some worked flakes from the Mesolithic period have been found
in a large
ditch system, some 5 metres wide and 1.5 metres deep. Work in
close proximity to
the Stone age ditch, geophysics and digging have revealed some ditches
of Bronze age origins. In the vicinity, two broken axe heads ,
a part of a
bronze sword, and other pieces of bronze, including slag, have been
and been designated as a dispersed hoard.
Bronze Age ditches were also in use during
the Iron Age as witnessed by the finds of potsherds. These are still
excavated. The pots are being reconstructed, and
are quite large
possibly up to 25 cm diameter.
Iron Age quarter
stater coin was also found in the vicinity of the ditch system.
date the confirmed discoveries have been
Roman roads. One
being a 7-8 metre wide road fording a tributary of the
Chelmer, at its first realistic fording point from the sea at Maldon,
have been the main Londinium to Camulodonum (London to Colchester)
other road (seen left) is a feeder road to
the first one, and
appears to follow the contours above the floodplain, possibly along an
Age or earlier road. There are indications of three other
similar age, which are being investigated.
agger exposed for only 24 hours after 1700 years!
have revealed a groundfast
that appears to
have been a Roman abattoir, slaughtering
including chicken like birds, wild boar, pigs, sheep, cattle, and
deer, and interestingly frogs (legs only!). There are indications of a
substantial building nearby. Around the building was a cobbled yard
of abattoir, including many of the features and
cobbled surface outside
the building with holes of grubbed out
there were metal
working artefacts. Many broken Roman
along with many coins and iron & bronze artefacts, such as a
brooch, a set of steelyard weights and surgical instruments.
special finds were 5cm high bronzes.
One is of a manacled tiger,
representing an animal used in the games in Londinium
The tiger has
been adopted as the Heritage Writtle logo.
other is an eagle, the bird of
of these have been
made by craftsmen in Cameroon using the same“lost wax” technique as the
used, The originals are displayed in the Chelmsford and Essex Museum,
Many round flints
have been found in the excavations, suitable
as slingshots, and
ones, could have
been Roman gaming pieces.
Penannular brooch AD50-100
part of a quern stone, maybe be part of a composite millwheel
goat hair - probably pre Roman
from later periods
range of metal
finds from the middle ages to the present day have been made in the
with many musket balls, ring, crotal bells, coins, buckles and a range
items. The locations are logged for correlating, so we can pinpoint
gold ladies ring with St George & the Dragon
selection of finds from the 1600s to 1800s
bell and jug
in the area
In the Parish of Writtle, there are tantalising
aerial photos of possible round houses, and known concentrations of
medieval artefacts and remains, many musket balls and some larger
calibre ordinance, as well as known sites of Napoleonic camps, a priory
site, early air fields, a POW camp, a Special Services training area,
as well as indications of ancient habitation.
these features are awaiting or are currently under investigation
from the field
in Writtle - The
at Cambridge University
management team of experts led by Carenza Lewis came from HEFA,
and spent the 1st
and 2nd of April
2009 in the village of Writtle near Chelmsford, Essex (despite the
project has continued through 2010,2011 and will takeplace in 2012 also.
objective was to give secondary school students
the chance to become involved in history through field archaeology and
also to evaluate
patterns of the past. Two teachers from each of the schools and some
from Writtle College supervised the digs.
project is taking place all over East
Anglia and is
intended to further the knowledge of the areas and to provide an active
for schools. Seven pits were dug in various places near the centre of
in the gardens of old houses and areas of likely historic and
Writtle itself participated
in the project and had its own pit to dig on Writtle Green, which was 1
square and 1 metre deep. We
excavated at 10cm depths (4” to us old boys) and
recorded all the finds in each layer. It was interesting to note that
layer did take us back 100 years according to the diagnosis of the
sherds by the experts. Some of the pottery went back to the early
only got down to layer 7 which revealed an interesting curved shape
made up of
a light coloured, calcarious sandy clay loam compared with the darker
either side. This could have something to do with the base of the cross
thought to have been in the vicinity up to 100 years ago.
coin was found in layer 5 which dated back to James 1. It was later
as a James 1 farthing 1613-1625.
all the pits, at most levels a lot of roof tile and brick was
found, and there was also a good cover of datable pottery. A full
report of all
the pottery in the each of the seven pits has been prepared by HEFA.
Interestingly some coins were found that were just pre decimalization,
these predated some supervisors and experts - make you feel you age!
school children (and their supervisors) all enjoyed
the experience, and they made very good impressions on the householders
whose gardens they had dug up and then restored to pristine condition.
also spent the two days painstakingly sieving all the earth and washed
finds from their test pit, in situ, in cold winds, with cold water,
the students! However, all who took part in our dig worked very hard
enjoyed the experience. We also learned a lot about correct procedures
investigating excavations, especially test pits as well as additional
management techniques for sites in general.
in Writtle Junior School
we have been working with the Village's Writtle Junior
School, introducing the children to archaeology by digging test pits at
School and showing them how to find, clean and document the artefacts.
children are also shown how to metal detect and to dowse and apart from
modern coins, a highlight was a toy pistol of the 1960's Roy Rogers
style. These one day exercises have been popular with the children and
finds are added to HEFA data. The 2015 day again proved popular and we
been invited back for 2016.
Following some interesting finds, Heritage Writtle has
carried out a
dowsing survey of the playing field and it appears that there are some
interesting features to be discovered.
for Writtle's "lost" buildings
We have been
investigating the locations and layout of two long lost buildings.
Using Dowsing rods we have in collaboration with All Saints Church and
the Bowling Club we have established some of the details of the
location layout and details of some early and historic
buildings. When investigations are complete they will be written up.
Conventional Geophysics were not effective, especially in the bowling
St Mary's 13/14th century
Chapel or Chantry in the
Churchyard,showing it to be approximately 30 ft square, with
two lines of graves in the building and a priests quarters.
The Lodge, a 15/16th century manor in the walled Bowling green area
with the brick walls being approximately 15th in part. The outline of
the house has been established. Occupants include John Rushworth,
secretary to Cromwell and part of the Pynchon family one of whom
established Massachusetts USA.
Writtle series of books about Writtle's history and archaeology to
update the Writtle Villagers of their heritage.
are available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
book describes the work of Heritage Writtle's archaeological
investigations around the Historic village and Parish, and has been
produced with the Heritage Lottery fund's
Village life through misfortune
and war:- This
new book marks the anniversary of the start of Word War One.
It describes the investigations and research by Heritage Writtle
and Writtle Archives into events that have shaped our
Village, from pre-history up to 1945. The book was launched
in April 2014.
It has been produced with a Heritage Lottery Grant " All our
stories" and support from Cambridge Community Heritage. The book is
The Marconi Company and Writtle:-
was written by Tim Wander as a companion to the Village Life book
above, and details the work and the staff of the Marconi Company at the
three sites in Writtle, from 1918 - 1989
Writtle gives talks to local organisations
and clubs in order to inform the community of the rich heritage in the
area, of the current and future research, together with the discoveries
Writtle members have given audio visual presentations
on the work of the Group and it's finds, to a range of local clubs and
also work with local schools, supporting the appropriate
syllabus key stages, and also provide hands-on experience for the
local archaeology and history.
also support the local Chelmsford Museum event days such as
"Archaeology for all
more information please see 'Contact
in the Heritage Writtle year
Group meets weekly throughout the year, excavating when
weather permits, and otherwise carrying out recording, detecting,
archiving or researches.
also have in addition, evening digs weekly during the
projects we may have weekend digs, “Time Team “ style!
Writtle has collaborated with Cambridge University Access Archaeology,
their Higher Education Field Academy education digs for local schools
hold an Annual lecture, to which a specialist is invited to talk
about his work, with especial reference to the Essex area. Previous
been on the Ice Age, Chelmsford from 1100BC to 1100AD, the
Antiquities Scheme, 2000 years of Colchester's History,
talking about Time Team and also the Higher Education Field
Academy, and a talk about the Time line and Archaeology of
South Essex and
The lost Royal Palaces of Essex. We have had Carenza Lewis talk about
term project with schools carrying out series of test pit digs over
years in the gardens and open spaces of the Village of Writtle.
lecture was by Jay
Carver, Chief Archaeologist of
the Crossrail Project who gave an excellent lecture entitled " Portals to the past - The
archaeology of the London Crossrail Project".
are annual outings to sites of special interest such as Iron /
Bronze Age / Saxon dwellings, several Roman villas, historic cities and
towns, Museum visits including "behind the
also to local Conferences.
also visit other local societies to see their
|CONTACT HERITAGE WRITTLE
information 01245 422986
July 23rd - Heritage Writtle at Chelmsford Museum Archaeology Day
10.00am - 4.00pm
February 21st - Annual Lecture . The archaeology of the Thames
foreshore. CITIZAN and Museum Of London Project.
m. Venue the Northumberland Lecture, Theatre at
College at 7.30pm.Talk Cost