Excavation of a Romano-British site at Short Batsworth, Mitcham 1966-68
Studies in Merton History 7: by E N Montague
In this study Eric Montague, late Vice-President of MHS, records the history of the site, the dig, the finds and his conclusions. This 32-page A4 booklet has 18 illustrations (maps, plans and photographs) and sells at £2.50 (£2 to members) plus £1.20 postage.
Monty prepared much of this paper in the 1970s, but then laid it aside. We have published his account as a tribute to our friend, who died in 2016. As he emphasised, this report is more in the nature of a memoir than a formal archaeological report. As such, it gives some flavour of the amateur approach to archaeology permitted in the 1960s. Most volunteers had jobs, and were not available during the week, so excavation had to be done speedily at weekends.
In the first season at Short Batsworth a line of 10-foot trenches was dug, with two people working in each and several trenches being open simultaneously. The width of baulks between trenches varied widely. Evidently the ‘10-ft length’ in Monty’s text refers to the combined length of excavated trench plus un-dug baulk. This detail should not detract from the seriousness of the overall approach – the trenches were properly surveyed in, small finds and the rather amorphous stratigraphy were carefully recorded and, after digging was complete, experts were consulted. Though the references for the measured survey – the field, footpath, allotments and factory – have all disappeared, the excavators were sufficiently thorough as to record the ten-metre National Grid Reference for the dig, allowing its position to be located in future.
As far as the report itself is concerned, Eric Montague is the sole author, responsible for the text, the general layout, most of the photographs and plans, all sections and pottery drawings.
Review in MHS Bulletin 203 (September 2017)
Physical Characteristics of the Site 7
Early Settlement in the Vicinity of the Site, and later documentary evidence of its utilisation 8
The Excavation 10
Notes and References 16
I The Burials 17
II The Human Bones 18
III Selected Pottery 24
IV Animal Bones 27
V Non-Pottery Small Finds 27
VI Finds in Context 28
VII Roll of Diggers 31
Front Cover: Work in progress on Trench 12, May 1967
Figure 1: Haslemere Primary School, December 1989 2
Figure 2: Site location [ ] shown on Ordnance Survey six-inch map pre 1965 4
Figure 3: Plan of site environs 5
Sketch plan of the layout of the first two burials discovered
Figure 5: General view of Short Batsworth from Ottershaw House, June 1967 8
Figure 6: Part of the West Field, Mitcham, in 1846, based on extracts from the tithe map 9
Figure 7: ‘The Blacklands’ in 1853 – detail from the sale map of the Moore estate 9
Figure 8: Location of trenches 11
Figure 9: Plan and section of Trench 12, May 1967 13
Figure 10: Two more sections of Trench 12, May 1967 14
Figure 11: General view of Short Batsworth from Ottershaw House, December 1989 16
Figure 12a: Surviving bones from Burial I 18
Figure 12b: Surviving bones from Burial II 20
Figure 12c: Surviving bones from Burial III 22
Figure 13: Two views of Burial III, November 1966 – Legs 23
Figure 14: Shell-tempered (1–3) and Romano-British Pottery (4–14) 26
Figure 15: Trench 12, looking north. Large ditch cleared 30
Figure 16: The site from Ottershaw House, June 1967 31
Following the chance discovery in October 1966 of two inhumation burials during site investigation work on
part of the Short Batsworth allotments prior to the erection of a new primary school to serve the Phipps Bridge
housing estate, limited exploratory excavations were undertaken by Merton Historical Society in 1966 and
1967, and site watching was conducted during building in 1968.
Athird, but much disturbed, inhumation was excavated in 1966 but, like the first two, this lacked grave goods
or any associated artefacts. Close to the burials, but with nothing to indicate contemporaneity, were two parallel
shallow ditches, containing occupational debris of late 1st/early 2nd century date, including fragments of coarse
pottery familiar from Romano-British sites elsewhere in north-eastern Surrey. The topsoil produced a few sherds
of medieval and later pottery, clay pipe bowls, and fragmentary bones of domestic animals. The site was only
partially excavated and it now (2017) lies under tarmac and houses.
Site notes from the excavation, sketch plans and sections, negatives, unused photographs and transparencies,
and all finds have been deposited at the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre.
This account, compiled over 40 years ago, does not purport to be an archaeological report, but is produced ‘for
the record’ of work undertaken by a group of amateur historians in the hope that it may be of interest and use
should further excavations be contemplated in the vicinity.
Figure 2: Site location [*] shown on Ordnance Survey six-inch map pre 1965.
Figure 3: Plan of site environs.
Figure 4: Sketch plan of the layout of the first two burials discovered.
(Trial Hole A = TH 2a, Trial Hole B = TH 2b in our text.)
For position within excavation, see Figure 8.
The site (centred at NG Ref. TQ 2673 6918) lies in the London Borough of Merton, 150 yards (140m) west
of Church Road, Mitcham (Figs. 2&3). At the time of excavation in 1966–7 it comprised a triangle of derelict
former allotment land bounded on the south by a public right of way and the remainder of the Short Batsworth
municipal allotments, and on the north by piggeries occupied by Messrs Woods and a slaughterhouse owned
and occupied by D Stopher and Sons. On the third, eastern, side of the triangle stood an empty factory building
formerly occupied by Barrow Hepburn and Gale Ltd. The site and plots of land adjoining to the north are now
occupied by the buildings of Haslemere Primary School and a new residential street, Foxton Grove.
In October 1966, two workmen1 were instructed to dig trial holes exposing the sub-soil in order that the architects2
for the new school might assess its geophysical properties. On 25 October, during the course of digging their
second trial hole (TH 2, later TH 2a), an adult skeleton (Burial I) was discovered and reported to Mitcham police
station. On the instructions of the police further work on TH 2a was suspended, and excavation of another trial
hole (TH 2b) was commenced at a point indicated by the officers, six feet (2m) away to the south-west. The
following day, in TH 2b, a second adult skeleton (Burial II) was discovered. This, too, was reported to the police
who, after photographing the disturbed remains in situ, removed the bones to Battersea mortuary. In view of
the opinion subsequently expressed by the police pathologist that both skeletons were ‘over 300 years old’, the
coroner advised that further enquiries by the police were not warranted.
Unfortunately the writer did not become aware of the discovery of the burials until after the removal of the
skeletal remains by the police. However, both workmen were interviewed on 27 October, and a few basic details
obtained, which are incorporated in Appendix I. Neither workman had noticed any artefacts in the vicinity of the
burials. On subsequent investigation of TH 2b, enlarged and much disturbed both by workmen and police, five
small sherds of poorly fired, undecorated coarse red shell-tempered pottery, together with a small fragment of
charred bone, were found at the base of the trench. TH 2a could not be examined as the base had been excavated
to below the water table, and it was completely flooded. With the co-operation of the police officer concerned,
it was eventually possible to take possession of parts of the two skeletons. Police photographs of Burial II in
situ were produced for inspection, but they were of such poor quality that copies were not requested.
In view of the proximity of the site to the northernmost extension of the large Anglo-Saxon cemetery excavated
by H F Bidder at Ravensbury,3 it appeared possible that the Short Batsworth burials might be of Saxon origin, and
that others could be in the vicinity. As far as could be ascertained building works were not imminent, but since
the site appeared to have considerable archaeological potential, it was considered important that any exploratory
work should be commenced and, if practicable, completed before the onset of winter. Furthermore, in view
of the shallow nature of the inhumations, and the very real danger of damage to, or even total destruction of,
archaeological features during building operations, it was felt that even with the limited labour resources and
expertise at the disposal of Merton Historical Society, a rescue excavation was justified. The writer accordingly
discussed the discoveries with Dennis Turner and, on his suggestion, arranged for Joan Harding and the late
Alan Gilbert of the Surrey Archaeological Society to visit the site on 30 October 1966.
On examination of the spoil-heap of sand and gravel removed from the enlarged TH 2b by workmen and police,
Miss Harding discovered a further fragment of shell-tempered pottery with the remains of some ashes adhering
to the inner surface. The fabric appeared to be the same as that of sherds found two days earlier actually in TH
2b. Numerous small fragments of bone, presumably from burial II, were found on re-examination of the base
of TH 2b and its extension. Discolouration of the sand immediately beneath where the legs had been indicated
the outline of the original grave. Decomposed fragments of shell-tempered ware were also found near what
seemed to have been the location of the left knee, but no retrievable sherds. Cleaning of the trial hole walls
showed that loam overlaid a stratum of natural gravel, below which was clean sand. The gravel was absent in
those parts of the section coinciding with the grave trench, and also in the northern side of the excavation. Here
clearly defined pockets of offensive-smelling blue-black stained sand were observed. Nothing was found in the
dark sand to suggest the origin of the discolouration, but the smell, and the relative proximity of the piggeries,
suggested that sub-soil drainage from the sties was responsible.
The feasibility of a resistivity survey which might disclose further inhumations or buried features was considered,
but in view of the similarity of the physical structure and water content of both loam and subsoil, together with
the amount of old iron, hardcore and other rubbish scattered liberally about the site, it was considered the results
of such a survey would be of little value. It was agreed, however, that a small exploratory excavation should be
undertaken as soon as possible by Merton Historical Society, under the joint directorship of Dennis Turner and
the writer. In view of the small number of diggers in the membership of the Merton Society, it was also agreed
that assistance would be provided by a small team organised by Alan Gilbert, composed mainly of members
of the Beddington, Carshalton and Wallington Archaeological Society [now the Carshalton & District History
and Archaeological Society]. Should the results of this exploratory excavation indicate that a more extensive
examination of the site was warranted, it was hoped that further assistance might be forthcoming from the wider
membership of Surrey Archaeological Society.
The site was owned by the London Borough of Merton, and, thanks to the assistance of Miss M Gummow of the
Town Clerk’s department, permission to excavate was obtained without difficulty. However, since the site was
unfenced and consequently open to the public using the footpath along its southern boundary, it was required
that full third party responsibility should be borne by Merton Historical Society. Financial considerations
made it essential that the premium be kept to a minimum, and among the conditions imposed by the insurance
company with whom the policy was negotiated was the requirement that any unfenced or unlit trenches should
be backfilled before each nightfall. This stipulation severely restricted the amount of productive excavation
possible in any one day, as the cost of fencing and/or lighting would have been prohibitive.
A further unfortunate feature of the site was its proximity to the Phipps Bridge housing estate, and the attention
the excavation attracted from the juvenile population. Carefully located datum pegs were removed overnight,
spoil heaps were used as slides, and serious archaeological work was made unnecessarily difficult, if not almost
impossible. As might be expected, the more sensational aspects of the discoveries appealed to the local press,
and the Mitcham News and Mercury carried banner headlines in its issue of 28 October proclaiming ‘Skull
found on School Site’, and speculated on its origin. Comment in subsequent weeks was tactfully restrained,
thanks to the sympathetic co-operation of the local reporter, Gay Biddlecombe, who was kept fully informed
of the Society’s proposals, and who ultimately secured the almost verbatim publication of an interim report on
the outcome of the first phase of the excavations.
Acknowledgement must be made of the help and support received, not only from those individual members
of the societies named who gave so willingly of their free time (see Appendix VII), but also from the Chief
Education Officer of the London Borough of Merton and his staff, David Johnston of the Raynes Park Boys
School, who held his experienced team of young diggers in reserve should an emergency arise, Mr J Trendall,
Superintendent of the Battersea mortuary, Mr W
Watkins of the coroner’s office, and PC Morgan and his
fellow police officers, without whose assistance the skeletal remains from burials I and II could not have been
retrieved, and finally, Mr Gilbert, the site agent for Howard VLobb and Partners, whose vigilance and friendly
co-operation was so much appreciated, particularly during the period when foundation and drainage trenches
were being dug in 1968 during the early phases of the school’s construction. Ray Farrar’s expert comments on
the pottery (drawn by the writer as ‘homework’ whilst attending a course on Roman pottery at the Institute of
Archaeology), and observations on miscellaneous finds by Felix Holling of theSurrey ArchaeologicalSociety’s
museum at Castle Arch, Guildford, and by Ralph Merrifield of the Guildhall Museum, London, must receive
special mention. Thanks are also due to Dr F C Fraser of the Department of Zoology, British Museum (Natural
History), for identifying the animal bones, and Mr F G Dimes of the Geological Museum for his comments on
the fragment of quern stone.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE SITE
The Short Batsworth site is situated at an elevation of 55 feet (16.7m) above Ordnance datum, approximately
400 yards (365m) to the east of the present course of the river Wandle. The Bull Ditch, a small tributary of the
Wandlenow piped and flowingunderground, traversed onecorner of theallotments. Thewater tablewas found to
be at 7 feet (2.1m) below ground surface in October 1966, but it had risen to 4 feet (1.2m) below by April 1967.
The topsoil, averaging 2 feet 3 inches (0.7m) in depth, is a fine, dark loam and overlies the Taplow sands and
gravels which form the substratum of much of central Mitcham. During the course of excavation the upper
levels of the Taplow beds were encountered in all trenches, appearing first as a thin, discontinuous stratum of
ochreous flint and gravel, overlying yellow sand.
Hinde4 observed, during the course of gravel working some 1,000 yards (900m) from the site in 1889, that the
sands and gravels were from 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3m) in thickness, and comprised discontinuous layers of shingle
and sand 6 inches to 1 foot (0.15 to 0.3m) in thickness resting on the London Clay. Asimilar stratification was
confirmed at Short Batsworth during the sinking of bore holes for the foundations of the new school in 1967.
EARLY SETTLEMENT IN THE VICINITY OF THE SITE,
AND LATER DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE OF ITS UTILISATION
There is no record of any finds of archaeological significance on the Short Batsworth site before October 1966,
although ample evidence of settlement from the lst century AD onwards has been found within a radius of a
mile and a half (2.5km), the most notable being at Morden, barely half a mile (800m) to the west.5 On the site
of Mitcham gasworks, 700 yards (640m) to the east, a well and a Roman urn were reported in 1882,6 and, a
similar distance to the south-east, on land adjoining the Benedict Primary School, ditches and Romano-British
pottery were found in 1989 during excavations carried out by the Department of Greater London Archaeology
of the Museum of London.7 Only a little further afield, a group of Romano-British pottery, presumably from a
burial, plus occupational debris, was discovered in Willow Lane, Mitcham, in 1922.8
The Anglo-Saxon cemetery mentioned on page 6 affords evidence of a substantial community settled in the
Mitcham area from the mid 5th to the late 7th century, and the existence of ‘Micham’ in the 7th and early 8th
centuries is attested by copy charters of Chertsey abbey.9
‘Battesworth’has the distinction of being one of the earliest field names recorded in the Mitcham area, appearing
in 1234–5, and is seen both by Gray10 and Gover11 as derived from Old English, and translates as ‘Baetti or
Baecci’s homestead’. With slightvariations in spelling (e.g. Batchworth), and modified by the divisional prefixes
‘Long’ and ‘Short’ as early as the 14th century, the name has persisted until now. In the mid-19th century and
no doubt earlier, Batsworth lay within the open West Field, the so-called ‘Blacklands’. This was one of the
three common fields of the village of Mitcham, and extended from Merton Lane (the modern Western Road)
south-eastwards towards Phipps Bridge. The name ‘Blacklands’ is interesting, and, although probably inspired
by the colour of the loam (topographical writers of the 18th and 19th centuries invariably commented on the
rich black loam which was a feature of the parish), Hoskins12 observed that the term has often been applied to
land blackened by the organic debris from centuries of human occupation. More recently, ‘black earth’ deposits
have been recognised as characteristic of the upper strata of many Roman urban sites.
The tithe map of 1846 and register of 1847 show ‘Short Batchworth’ as arable in the 19th century (Fig. 6),
still divided into long narrow ‘lands’ or strip holdings worked by individual farmers including James Weston
of Pound Farm, Upper Mitcham, and James Moore, the proprietor of the well-known firm of Mitcham physic
gardeners Potter and Moore. A plan of 1853 also shows the strips in ‘Short Batsworth’ (Fig. 7) and when the
estate of James Bridger (Moore’s son) was offered for sale by auction in November 1888, several strips in Short
Batsworth, ‘Valuable Market Garden Ground’, copyhold of the manor of Ravensbury, and rented by Robert
Slater, were included.13 None of the subsequent Ordnance maps shows anything but agricultural use of the land
until its acquisition for allotments in the 1920s by the Urban Distict Council of Mitcham.
Figure 5: General view of Short Batsworth eastwards from Ottershaw House, June 1967.
Trench 12 is visible in the middle of the photograph, flanked by two pale patches of spoil-heaps.
Helps & Palmer
1150 GARTH/Welsh & Margetson (m)
0 100 200 300 400 500 metres
Helps & Palmer
1150 GARTH/Welsh & Margetson (m)
0 100 200 300 400 500 metres
Figure 6: Part of the West Field, Mitcham, in 1846, based on extracts from the tithe map by permission of Surrey History Centre.
The accompanying schedule identifies strips 1122, 1123, 1124, 1125, 1126, 1126a, 1126b, 1127 & 1128 as ‘In Short Batchworth’.
Figure 7: ‘The Blacklands’in 1853 – detail from the sale map of the Moore estate, showing the strip holdings in the West Field,
by permission of Merton Library & Heritage Service.
Season 1: November–December 1966
In view of the close juxtaposition of burials I and II, it was provisionally assumed that others existed nearby.
Although no grave goods had been found to suggest a date for the burials, and their north–south alignment was
in contrast to the predominantly east–west orientation noted by Bidder, it was considered that burials I and II
might be atypical outliers of the main Mitcham Anglo-Saxon cemetery. Accordingly it was with the principal
objective of locating and examining further, undisturbed, burials that the first season’s excavation was planned.
Initially it was intended to open a line of ten trenches 10 feet by 4 feet (3m by 1.2m) on a 100 foot (30.5m)
east–westbaselineimmediatelyto thesouth of thetwoburials, butthis planwas modifiedinview ofsubsequent
discoveries. All digging and backfilling was by hand.
Work commenced on 20 November, trenches 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 8 being fully excavated to undisturbed natural
gravel or sand at between 1 foot 9 inches and 2 feet 6 inches (0.5m to 0.75m), and backfilled before dusk.
(Trenches were numbered from east to west). A third burial (See Appendix 1, Burial III) was discovered in the
baulk separating trenches 3 and 4 late in the day, and was covered with polythene and earth to await examination
and removal at a later date. Two ditches on a north–south alignment were found in trench 2.
On 27 November trenches 7 and 9 were fully excavated, and backfilled, and the excavation of trench 1 was
started. In addition, the spoil-heap of TH 2b was carefully worked through, and the base of TH 2b was excavated
to undisturbed sand, but there were no finds.
On the third and last weekend of the 1966 season, 3–4 December, Burial III was uncovered and found to be
much disturbed, with the remains fragmented. It was removed after extending part of trenches 3 and 4 to the
north. In the absence of any finds or features in trenches 7, 8 and 9, trench 10 was not dug; instead, trench 11,
20 feet by 4 feet (6.1m by 1.2m) and 40 feet (12.2m) to the north of trenches 1 and 2, was opened with a view
to tracing the northward extension of the ditch-like features apparent in these trenches. Three joining sherds of
a Romano-British butt beaker were found in the topsoil of trench 11.
With the approach of mid-winter and early nightfall it was reluctantly decided that further work would have to
be postponed until the following Spring, and all trenches still open were backfilled.
The results of the first season’s work may be summarised as follows:
1. The topsoil over the whole of the area excavated had been much disturbed by cultivation to a depth of 18
inches to 2 feet (0.45m to 0.6m) and contained quantities of broken animal bone as well as 19th- and 20thcentury
china and pottery fragments. The presence of the former could be attributable to the practice of
allotment holders manuring their plots with dung and waste from the adjoining piggeries and slaughterhouse,
or was a legacy of the previous century when night soil and refuse from London are known to have been
used in large quantities by Moore and, presumably, by other Mitcham physic gardeners, to maintain the
fertility of their holdings.
The topsoil also yielded a significant scatter of sherds of Romano-British coarse ware, plus small abraded
fragments of medieval pottery. The latter was not wholly unexpected in view of the known history of land
use, but the former added an important new dimension to the site.
3. Disappointingly, only one further inhumation was found, and this, being nearer to the surface than the other
two, was consequently in a more disturbed and damaged condition. Once again, the burial appeared to have
been unaccompanied by grave goods. Above the feet were two tiny sherds of Romano-British pottery, and
above the pelvis a sherd of a Romano-British dish, but all could have been derived from the topsoil during
backfilling or cultivation. An iron stain seen in section only in the baulk separating trenches 3 and 4 might
have been from an artefact associated with the burial, but this again is doubtful.
4. Two ditch-like features were found crossing trenches 1 and 2, on a roughly north–south alignment. The
larger, some 4 feet 6 inches (1.4m) wide, with sloping sides, was cut approximately 18 inches (0.45m) into
the gravel subsoil, and also contained a few sherds of Romano-British pottery in the fill.
Figure 8: Location of trenches, redrawn by DJH after ENM and DJT. Position of contractor’s Trial Hole 1 not recorded.Figure 8: Location of trenches, redrawn by DJH
after ENM and DJT. Position of contractor’s Trial Hole 1 not recorded.
Season Two: April–May 1967
Since the primary aim of the first season’s work had not been attained, the discovery of an undisturbed burial
with grave goods or associated material remained the objective of the second season’s work, for it was still
believed the site could be part of the Anglo-Saxon cemetery. The discovery of the ditches, with their Romano-
British pottery had, however, introduced a new chronological dimension, and opened up fresh possibilities of
an interesting character. With the object of tracing the ditches further it was therefore decided to open up a new
trench, number 12, 20 feet by 16 feet (6.1m by 4.9m) immediately to the north of trenches 1 and 2 and south of
trench 11. In addition, trench 13, 20 feet by 8 feet (6.1m by 2.4m) was planned to the north of trenches 4 and
5, to examine the area between known burials. Trench 14, 20 feet by 8 feet (6.1m by 2.4m) and to the west of
the builders’trial hole TH 2b, was to be opened in the hope of finding a further inhumation close to burial II.
Work commenced on 20 April.
In the event the first objective was not achieved, and neither trench 13 nor 14 disclosed any burials or other
features. Trench 14 did, however, produce a few sherds of coarse shell-tempered pottery and what appears to
be the tip of an amphora in the disturbed topsoil above the gravel. It was concluded that if the site had been
part of a cemetery, the burials were very scattered.
Although trench 12 was similarly devoid of burials, its excavation was rewarding, and a further 16 foot (4.9m)
length of the two parallel ditches was exposed. Both were excavated to their full depth. Since this trench lay
further from the public footpath than those excavated in the 1966 season, it was not considered necessary to
backfill at the end of each weekend session. Unfortunately this left the trench exposed to the activities of local
children during the week, and inevitably some damage was caused to the ditch profiles. The homogeneous fill
of the larger, eastern, ditch contained a significant quantity
of occupational debris, including rims and sherds
of red coarse textured shell-tempered ware, sherds of well-made black, decorated pottery of late 1st/early 2nd
century AD type (Appendix III), animal bones (Appendix IV), daub, a piece of tile, a fragment of a quern, and
the presumed tip of another amphora. Although a distinction was made between the topsoil and layers 1 and 2
of the ditch fill during recording, stratification was poor, and both topsoil and layer 1 were obviously disturbed,
with parts of the same pots in different layers.
The onset of a period of wet weather, together with other commitments of both site directors, necessitated
termination of the second season’s work on 27 May. Building work on the school commenced the following
month, the first operation being the mechanical removal of a large quantity of scrap metal and rubble which
littered the site, and ‘regrading’ of the topsoil. Close contact was maintained with the site foreman for the
contractors during the whole of the initial stages of site preparation and excavation for the concrete, piles and
drainage of the new building,but nothing of significance was recognised or reported by the workmen. In view
of the degree of physical disturbance of the topsoil, systematic site walking was not considered worthwhile.
Season Three: March 1968
The final stage of the Society’s work consisted of exploiting the contractor’s plans for drainage excavation. As
no further recognisable pottery or skeletal remains were disclosed during the building operations, it was assumed
that what was now believed to have been a Romano-British occupation site, perhaps with associated burials,
occupied a position to the east and perhaps south-east of the new school building. The roof and surface water
drainage system for the school necessitated excavation of comparatively shallow trenches in the topsoil close to
the southern and eastern sides of the building. At one point only, where an access chamber was planned, would
the depth of excavation reach the gravel and possibly disclose further undisturbed Romano-British material.
It was decided therefore that the necessary excavation should be undertaken by members of Merton Historical
Society, under the supervision of the site foreman. The work was completed on 24 March by two members of
the Society, but nothing of significance was found, confirming the assumption that the eastern part of the site
was probably the most significant archaeologically.
Figure 9: Plan and section of Trench 12, May 1967 (and see Figure 10).
Figure 10: Two more sections of Trench 12, May 1967
Although the excavations conducted in the two short seasons of work in 1966 and 1967 produced one more
inhumation, nothing was found to suggest a date for the three burials, or to indicate their origin. All three feature
an extended supine position and an approximately N–S orientation, with the feet to the north. This is certainly
indicative of deliberate interment. Unaccompanied inhumation burials, in shallow graves and with various
orientations, are not uncommon in Romano-British settlement contexts; it is understood they are more frequent
from the end of the 2nd century AD onwards. Whereas the proximity of the Short Batsworth burials to features
containing Romano-British pottery suggested they might be contemporary, and associated with a settlement
in the vicinity, the absence of any grave goods offers no support to such an assumption. If the burials are later
than the middle Saxon period, at least one alternative interpretation is possible.
What one might assume to have been the earliest Christian burial ground (in part dated to the 13th century) is
in the vicinity of the parish church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, some 550 yards (500 m) to the south-east. It
is a reasonable hypothesis, therefore, that the burials at Short Batsworth were either of pagans or, if they postdate
the advent of Christianity to the neighbourhood, perhaps of criminals or outcasts from the community. It
is certainly not unknown to find such burials towards the outskirts of a parish, or close to what might still have
been remembered as a ‘heathen’burial ground. When one considers the location of the Short Batsworth site, this
theory is certainly not untenable, for the boundary between the ancient ecclesiastical parishes of Mitcham and
Morden lies only 380 yards (350m) to the west, and what seems to have been the northern extent of the Anglo-
Saxon cemetery was half a mile (800m) to the south. Bidder and Morris3 postulated the prominent survival of a
Bronze Age barrow at the heart of the cemetery at least until the 5th century AD, and there are many examples
of the vicinity of such mounds being used for the burial of criminals well into the Middle Ages.
Without further excavation, the function of the parallel ditches or gullies on the Short Batsworth site must also
remain conjectural. There was no indication of post-holes to suggest that they might have been part of a boundary
stockade or fence, and insufficient length was traced for one to see them as forming part of an enclosure. Given
the high water table, it is certainly likely that, whatever their primary function, the ditches doubled as surface
water drainage channels. The absence of any tip lines in the sections, or appreciable silt or decayed topsoil in
the ditch fill, which appeared to be homogenous, suggests that they were not open for long after being dug, or
recut for the last time.
Thepottery assemblagefound withintheundisturbed ditch fillplaces its date,and thereforethatof thesettlement
whence the refuse emanated, to the late 1st/early 2nd century AD. Typologically the ceramic material falls broadly
into two distinct groups. The first type, a hand-made undecorated coarse ware in an oxidised shell-tempered
fabric, seems likely to have been of local London Clay, which from experiment is known to fire readily to a
similar reddish colour. One vessel, a bead-rimmed jar finished on a slow wheel, was probably used for storage,
whereas another, thick walled and soot blackened, had served as a cooking pot. The relative crudity of form and
the unevenness of firing of this group of pottery suggests that it was fashioned locally in clamps or primitive
kilns. It would also appear to be perpetuating a late Iron Age tradition. Crushed shell was a popular tempering
medium for this type of utilitarian ware and, seen out of context, body sherds from this group of pottery from
Short Batsworth could be mistaken for the late Saxon/early medieval ware common in this part of Surrey.
The second broad group of pottery, of which a hard, well-fired, wheel-made blackish grey ware (some with
inscribed banded decoration) formed a significant proportion, is typical of vessels from commercial kilns and is
widely distributed throughout the south-east of Britain. Two enigmatic bung-like objects, tentatively identified
as thebasalknobs ofamphorae,would,iftheidentification is correct,indicatethatexoticproducts such as wine,
oil or fish sauce were not unknown.
Of the remaining occupational debris in the ditch fill, the brick fragments and what has been interpreted as
daub are significant and suggest structures in the vicinity. One curved tile fragment, possibly from a Roman
imbrex, suggests sophisticated roof covering. The quern fragment also implies settlement close by. The animal
bones were all from domestic species. None were found articulated, and all (except the jaw of a small dog)
were obviously food waste, and came from immature rather than adult animals.
The ditch fill contained large numbers of shells of the ubiquitous grove or brown-lipped banded snail (Cepaea
nemoralis) which, although omnivorous, does have a preference for the stinging nettle. This is common on
nitrogen-rich soil, and is a feature of sites close to human settlement. In view of the sterility of the trenches
towards the west of the area excavated, it can be assumed that the farmstead or settlement whence the organic
waste was derived lay to the east, i.e. towards Church Road.
The presence of a Romano-British farmstead in this part of Mitcham during the late first/early second centuries
fits in very well with the picture emerging from the growing body of archaeological evidence of a scatter of
roughly contemporary sites in the locality. Given a fertile, well-watered terrain, this is perhaps not surprising,
and we can assume not only that the distribution of small mixed farming communities in this part of the Wandle
valley was widespread at the time, but that they were probably perpetuating an already well-established pattern
which was to continue throughout the Roman period.
NOTES AND REFERENCES
1 J & D Tutton of Oakleigh Way, Mitcham, working for Waldron Builders Ltd
2 Howard V Lobb and Partners, 20 Gower Street, WC1
3 Bidder H F, and Morris J, ‘The Anglo-Saxon Cemetery at Mitcham’ Surrey Archaeological Collections LVI (1959)
4 Proceedings of the Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society IV (1896) 229–230
Details given by G J Hinde of a section in a gravel pit between Mitcham railway station and the parish church in about
1889. At about 60 feet above OD, the section showed 1ft to 1ft 6in of cultivated sandy soil, and below this from 7ft
to 10ft of partially stratified gravels with impersistent layers of shingle and sand 6 in to 1ft in thickness. These beds
were resting on London Clay. The gravel was chiefly of blunted sub-angular flints (not large), green coated flints, flint
fragments and Tertiary flint pebbles. The sand was light-coloured.
5 TQ 2607 6918. Surrey Archaeological Collections XLII (1943) 23–4
6 TQ 274 691. Surrey Archaeological Collections XXXIX (1931) 146 and Surrey Archaeological Collections LVI (1959)
56 footnote 2. The pot is now in the British Museum. The discovery was originally reported by Robert Garroway Rice
and J Harwood in the Croydon Advertiser
7 Preliminary Report of Archaeological Evaluation Work at Benedict Road Primary School, Mitcham, Department of
Greater London Archaeology, SW London Unit, Museum of London (undated)
8 TQ 2780 6750. Surrey Archaeological Collections XXXVIII part 1 (1929) 93 and XXXIX (1931) 145–6
9 Victoria County History of Surrey III (1911) 406
10 Gray, H L, English Field Systems (1915) 367
11 Gover, J E B and others, The Place-Names of Surrey, English Place-Name Society Vol. XI p.52 gives:
‘Battesworth’ Feet of Fines, 225–9–30 19 Henry III (1235), ‘Longe Battesworthe’ (1338), ‘Batisworth’ (1485),
‘Battysworth’ (1512) and ‘Batchworth’ 1840
12 Hoskins W G, Fieldwork in Local History (1967, revised 1983) pp.92–3
13 Surrey History Centre 2327/1/2–7: Sale Particulars, Manor of Biggin & Tamworth and other properties in Mitcham
Figure 11: General view of Short Batsworth eastwards from Ottershaw House, December 1989.
The site lay to the left of the conifers lining the footpath in the middle of the photograph. Compare Figure 5.
APPENDIX I – THE BURIALS
Found in October 1966 in the builders’ trial hole TH 2a, (also referred to as ‘Trial Hole A’), at ‘between 2 feet 3
inches and 2 feet 6 inches below ground level’, in the upper part of the sandy stratum which underlies the loam
and topsoil. Skeleton removed by workmen. Described as having been of an adult, lying on its back with legs
extended, arms at sides and head raised with chin on chest. Orientation roughly NW/SE, with head at southeastern
end. No grave goods or artefacts of any kind noticed by the workmen.
Also found in October 1966, in builder’s trial hole TH 2b, at roughly the same depth as burial I. Skeleton
photographed in situ by police. Also described as having been of an adult, lying on its back with legs extended
rather to the west of north, hands crossed on chest and head turned to the right. The bones of the feet and the
lower part of the legs were missing. No grave goods or associated objects reported.
On later examination of the trial hole and spoil heap the following fragments of pottery were found: five sherds
of coarse shell-tempered grey ware with oxidised surfaces, one with a thick, sooty encrustation; a small, grooved
rim sherd of medium-texturedsandy grey ware, burnt after breaking; a sherd of coarse, grit-tempered oxidised
grey ware, blackened and burnt after breaking; a sherd of 14th-century off-white Surrey ware; and a small sherd
of 17th- or 18th-century glazed red earthenware. A fragment of calcined bone was also recovered.
Found in topsoil of baulk between trenches 3 and 4 late on 20 November 1966 and, after removal of part of
rib cage and cranium by Dennis Turner, covered with polythene sheeting and earth. Removal of remainder of
skeleton completed on 3–4 December, also by Dennis Turner, after northward extension of part of trenches 3
and 4 (dimensions not recorded) and removal of intervening baulk.
The pelvis was in the NW corner of trench 3, and the cranium actually in the western baulk. The arms may have
been crossed on the chest. The general orientation was with feet towards east of north. The skull and lower jaw
seemed to be articulated, but possibly separated from the vault. The facial bones were missing, and the jaw
possibly thrust onto the top of the ribcage. Ribs and other fragments had apparently been removed from the
right side of the skeleton between skull and pelvis. It was found that the ribs lifted on 20 November were all
that remained of the ribcage, except for fragments. The left humerus was decayed and broken. The left ulna was
fragmentary. The pelvis was badly broken. The left femur and tibia were in position, and the proximal epiphysis
of the femur was not completely ossified. The right femur was broken and displaced; the upper epiphysis was in
position. The right tibia was displaced, and the lower end decayed. The left heel bone appeared to be in position.
To the right of the pelvis was one finger bone. Two inches above the feet position were two tiny joining sherds
of Romano-British ware, and above the pelvis a base sherd of a wheel-made, flat-bottomed Romano-British
vessel, possibly a dish or cooking pot, in hard grey fabric.
The occupational debris with the Romano-British pottery in the fill of the larger of the two ditches exposed in
trenches 1, 2, 11 and 12 included a number of animal bones, presumably contemporary food waste. As the state
of decay of these animal bones appeared similar to that of the human bones from the three burials, it seemed
a reasonable working hypothesis to assume that the latter were also of Romano-British date. This cannot be
substantiated, however, and on reconsideration all three burials must remain undated.
NB In Appendix II, comparison of the photographs of the surviving bones with the descriptions demonstrates that
some items have been lost between the writing of the descriptions and deposition of the bones with the archive.
Note that, in laying out the items for the photographs, unidentifiable ribs and other fragments have been positioned
outside the normal body shape.
APPENDIX II – THE HUMAN BONES
Dental report dated 1 October 1970 by A F Weedon, Principal Dental Officer, London Borough of Wandsworth:
‘The skull is that of an adult who had a full complement of 32 teeth during his life time.
‘Visual and x-ray examination of the upper and lower jaws reveals that
7 were lost or removed sufficiently
long before burial for the bone to heal completely, let’s say, at least a year.
8are still in situ or recovered and the remaining teeth are lost.
has an enormous cavity, with an exposure
of the nerve of the tooth, and x-rays reveal abscesses on 76 which in theory would have made eating painful on that side.
‘All teeth present except three show severe attrition. The remaining calculus on the teeth, the existing bone, the
length of the clinical crowns of the teeth (visible out of bone) and the x-rays indicate a fair degree of periodontal
disease. This means that there had been a fair amount of gum infection under calculus deposits with resulting loss
of bone and over-exposure of the teeth and probably their roots, to the point that the lower front teeth could have
been quite mobile at death’.
Parietal – two
Frontal – broken
Lacrimal – broken
Body – broken left side
two mental foramina
Condyles – broken on both sides
Coronoid processes – broken off on both sides
four (one in two parts)
Sacrum and Coccyx
Figure 12a: Surviving bones from Burial I.
both present and bodies complete enough to articulate
Processes on sacrum badly chipped
First rib Second rib
Second rib Part of eight others
Part of seven others
Body: badly broken, little remaining broken, only part remains
Glenoid cavity: complete complete
Spine: little left nearly all there
Coracoid process: badly chipped complete
Both sides present in good condition with articular surfaces still intact
Humerus in three parts: broken in three parts:
Proximal: head broken at neck head broken at neck
and articular surface incomplete
Shaft: broken halfway down, can still articulate broken near distal end, can still articulate
Distal end: complete complete
Proximal end: articular surfaces intact articular surfaces intact
Shaft: broken, lower third missing complete
Distal end: slightly chipped, chipped, otherwise complete
does not join on to broken end of shaft
Head: slightly chipped, articular surface intact chipped, articular surface intact
Shaft: complete broken in two parts,
one third of lower end missing
Distal end: complete, slightly chipped missing
Hand no trace of carpals, metacarpals or phalanges
Pubis complete in three fragments with ischium.
obturator foramen complete possible to reconstruct all boundaries of
Ischium complete in fragments with pubic bone
acetabulum complete can reconstruct acetabulum
Ilium only half present only half present
Anterior and posterior sections missing
Femur in two parts in two parts
Head: broken off at neck broken off at neck
Great trochanter: badly broken not so broken
Lesser trochanter: complete complete
Shaft: unbroken and attached to distal end unbroken and attached to distal end
Condyles: present, only slightly damaged. present, only slightly damaged.
Patella none none
Proximal end: articulating surfaces complete, edges battered articulating surfaces complete, edges battered
Shaft: complete complete
Distal end: complete except for internal malleolus complete
Fibula three parts, incomplete distal end in two parts, remainder missing
Proximal end: still attached to part of shaft, attached to main piece of shaft,
articulating surface complete articulating surface complete
Shaft: in three pieces and incomplete in two pieces which are complete
Distal end: absent broken off and part of shaft, almost absent
Calcaneum complete – external surface fragmented complete – external surface fragmented
Talus complete complete
Metatarsals first & second present
Phalanges Two proximal, two middle
SKULL badly severed by workman’s spade
Occipital–several pieces badly shattered; the two main do not
Parietal – both present
Frontal – broken
Temporal – broken, part missing
Sphenoid – absent
Shattered into fragments, only a few left
Body – complete
Mental foramen – present
Rami – Left missing, right present, but condyles
and coronoid process both broken
three almost complete
one broken body
two complete except for spine and transverse processes
one severed in half through spine and body
broken after first joint
Figure 12b: Surviving bones from Burial II.
First rib none
broken, little remainingalmost completebadly chippedpresent
Both sides present – sternal facet present, acromial facet broken
one part only:
complete, attached to shaft
two parts only:
head and neck missing
attached to shaft, part of coronoid broken off
the two do not align
broken two-thirds way down
broken in two places,
some missing at proximal end
broken halfway down
hole in body, crest damaged
present – ischial tuberosity chipped
mainly present, lot of crest missing
left medial epicondyle missing
great trochanter missing
incomplete, one piece
OK, articulating surfaces OK
broken (one small fragment)
whole length not present
some of anterior side of distal end missing
incomplete, two pieces
articulating surfaces broken
broken (one small fragment)
whole length not present
Shaft: three pieces and complete
beginning of enlargement to show position
of distal end
only two pieces
slight enlargement to show position
of distal end
Calcaneum broken missing
Metatarsals second and third present missing
A preliminary examination by DJH. Presented as a box of mixed bones, with another small box containing the jaws and
teeth. The items are much broken and degraded, and possibly some have been lost. Only the axis is whole, while a few
bones are complete but broken (mandible, left clavicle, right radius, right fibula). Missing bones are not listed.
The surviving in situ teeth are R 654 45 7 L
Loose teeth present comprise 5 incisors, 4 canines, 2 pre-molars, and 4 molars. No cavity observed in any tooth.
Occipital – small part?
Temporal – part of the left
Zygomatic – part of left? arch
Maxilla – incomplete, broken, three joining pieces
6 teeth in situ
Body – complete, broken, three joining pieces
5 teeth in situ
Mental Foramina – both present
Rami – both present
VERTEBRAL COLUMN (numerous fragments)
Atlas – rear half
Axis – present, complete
Others – parts of two?
Thoracic Vertebrae – part of one?
Lumbar Vertebrae – parts of four?
One near complete, many fragments, no articular surfaces
Body: two fragments one large fragment
Glenoid Cavity: present present
Coracoid Process: present present
Clavicle present, broken sternal half only
Proximal end: missing present, broken
Shaft: present, joined to distal missing
Distal end: much degraded
Proximal end: much degraded part, broken
Shaft: complete, broken
Distal end: present
Radius missing complete, broken
Pubis one part
Ilium one part one part (both showing greater sciatic notch)
Femur complete in three pieces part of shaft
Proximal end: part broken
Fibula parts of shaft complete
Figure 12c: Surviving bones from Burial III.
Figure 13: Two views of Burial III, November 1966 – legs.
No drawings were made of this burial in situ.
It is unclear which photograph looks eastwards and which looks westwards.
(Ranging pole marked in 1-ft lengths.)
APPENDIX III – SELECTED POTTERY
Discounting the two or three stray sherds of off-white Surrey ware of the 14th/15th centuries, and a few later
fragments found in the disturbed topsoil, the ceramic material from the site falls into two main groups.
The first comprises coarse pottery, hand made or turned on a slow wheel and probably from ferruginous local
clay, heavily tempered with shell or crushed calcined flint. Firing was evidently in clamps or else in simple
kilns allowing little control over the ingress of air, for these wares are grey in their cores. Where oxygen has
been excluded, they oxidise to various shades of red on their outer surfaces.
Coarse wares produced in this manner were widespread in the late Saxon/early medieval period, and have been
found at various sites in and around Mitcham. When first encountered in the topsoil at Short Batsworth, sherds
of shell-tempered coarse pottery were identified as ‘medieval’but as the work progressed and sherdsof the same
fabric were found in the apparently undisturbed fill of the eastern ditch in trench 12 together with the remains
of indisputably 1st/2nd century vessels, it became evident that much, if not all, of the shell-tempered material
at Short Batsworth should be regarded as Romano-British in date.
Furthermore, the form taken by this pottery, which typically comprised heavy storage jars or thick-walled cooking
pots with bead rims, was not medieval but in fact derived from late Iron Age traditions familiar in north-east
Surrey and much of the south-east of England.
Three vessels from Short Batsworth fall into this first category.
The second group of pottery into which, for simplicity, the remainder of the material from Short Batsworth
can be placed, covers a range of wares and forms from the late 1st/early 2nd century familiar on Roman sites
throughout the Home Counties. Eleven separate vessels were from this group. All were wheel-thrown, and were
most likely the product of professional potters using kilns such as those at Alice Holt, near Farnham, operated
on a commercial basis.
In 1970 the remains of the 14 vessels from Short Batsworth selected for illustration were submitted for comment
to R A H Farrar Esq, MA FSA, and it is largely from his description and comments (in quotes) that the following
notes have been compiled.
1) ‘Small part (3 joining sherds) of the roughly beaded rim of a large hand-made jar or bowl in coarse,
heavily shell-gritted ware, largely oxidised reddish or reddish-brown under rough brownish surfaces.’
Trench 14, layer 1 – topsoil.
2) ‘Portion of roughly rounded rim of a large hand-made bowl or jar in similar ware, and basically similar
form to No. 1, but with the outer face blackened and sooted.’
Trench 12, layer 1.
3) ‘Substantial sherd from rim of a large bead-rimmed storage jar, probably wheel-thrown, but of ware
similar in texture, shell-temper and colour to the hand-made vessels 1 and 2.’
Trench 12, east ditch layer 2.
Beakers or Narrow-mouthed Vessels
‘Rim and neck (3 joining sherds) of butt-beaker of native form; light brownish-grey fairly close-textured
body with black grits, oxidised reddish-brown surfaces, with soapy exterior burnish. A well known form.
Cf. Hawkes and Hull Camulodunum p.140, form 119B or C.’
Trench 11, topsoil.
‘Fragment of cordoned neck, perhaps of a flask or narrow-necked jar rather than a butt beaker … The ware
seems in all respects almost identical with that of no. 4, except in being more sandy, and in retaining less
Trench 1, topsoil.
6) ‘Worn base fragment of splay-footed jar or beaker in fairly close-textured sandy ware, discoloured brown
to grey …. Whole of inner face flaked off.’
Trench 12, layer 1.
‘Shoulder sherd of jar with cordon at base of neck; fairly hard quartz-gritted grey body with a few black
grits, mid-brown burnished outer face.’
Trench 1, ditch fill.
8) ‘Shoulder (2 joining sherds) of large cordoned jar, fairly close-textured chocolate body with grey core
containing quartz, shell, and black grits; surfaces mid-grey where best preserved, worn exterior probably
smoothed or burnished.’
Trench 12, layer 1.
9) ‘Reeded rim and shoulder (7 joining sherds) of shouldered bowl, with scribed decoration of grouped
vertical lines between cordons. Fairly close sandy body, chocolate with grey core, black surfaces burnished
outside except on the decorated zone.
‘The basic form is of Belgic origin (Cf. Camoludunum form 218) and continued in popularity during
the 1st century and at least the first half of the 2nd century AD, occurring for example at Verulamium
(Wheeler, Verulamium p.66, fig 35, form 50, 66), in the Highgate kilns (London Archaeologist 1969,
p.42, Fig. 1), in the Alice Holt kilns (Surrey Archaeological Collections
p.52 nos. 3–5; Alice Holt
Forest fig. 3, p. 41) and perhaps in the ‘Upchurch’kilns (Arch Cant. LXVIII, p.83, no.6). In Surrey, where
the neck seems generally surmounted by a flat everted rim (e.g. Holme’s types 19–21 at Haslemere and
Charterhouse, SyAC LI, p.20), there may well be hybridisation between this form and cooking-pot forms
with flattened and sometimes reeded rim, with or without neck (e.g. Preh. Farnham types R 71, 86A,
88). Nos. 9 and 10 from Short Batsworth may be the result of such a fusion.’
Trench 12, layer 2.
10) ‘Rim sherd of vessel of similar form and ware to No.9.’
Trench 12, east ditch.
11) ‘Rim sherd of bead-rim jar of ware similar to that of 9 and 10 above, with shoulder and rim burnished
above a slight girth groove. Perhaps an Alice Holt product (Preh. Farnham, R 65–7; Alice Holt Forest,
Fig. 1; Surrey Archaeological Collections LX p.27, type III).’
Trench 12, layer 2.
12) ‘Small rim sherd, probably from cooking pot of close-textured reddish-brown sandy ware with light grey
core and remains of an external black slip, probably terminating high up on the inner face.’
Trench 6, topsoil.
Dishes or bowls
13) ‘Rim sherd of a large cordoned bowl in sandy, fairly close-textured ware with oxidised brown surfaces
but body partly oxidised and partly reduced dense black throughout. Both faces are worn, but appear to
have been burnished.’
Trench 12, layer 1.
14) ‘Small rim of doubtful diameter, probably from dish or bowl of standard type. Dark grey sandy body
with some large black grits, discoloured grey to brown worn surfaces.’
Trench 12, east ditch layer 2.
0 6 12
0 6 12
Figure 14: Shell-tempered (1–3) and Romano-British Pottery (4–14).
APPENDIX IV – ANIMAL BONES
(All from the eastern ditch in Trench 12)
Identification by Dr F C Fraser, British Museum (Natural History) Department of Zoology, London SW7, 19 December 1967
Sheep or Goat
2 lower jaw fragments – 1 left, 1 right side
2 cheek teeth
1 incomplete humerus – not fully mature. Distal end, right side.
1 lower jaw fragment, left side
2 scapula fragments, 1 left, 1 right
1 incomplete humerus, right
1 humerus epiphysis – proximal end – immature
1 incomplete radius, right
2 metapodial fragments – one very young (the 2 longitudinal halves still evident)
1 lower jaw fragment, left side
1 incomplete humerus
1 tibia epiphysis fragment – proximal end – immature
1 cannon bone – young
1 ulna fragment – distal end, left side – immature
1 lower jaw fragment, right side
(c. size of English spaniel)
Also 4 fragments of bone unidentifiable.
APPENDIX V – NON-POTTERY SMALL FINDS
Bronze ring: 19mm internal diameter, with bevelled shoulder, possibly unfinished (casting flash not removed).
Topsoil, trench 12.
Quern fragment from the fill of the eastern ditch in trench 12.
Submitted in 1973 to Mr F G Dimes of the Geological Museum, London SW7, who commented:
‘Afine-grained sandstone with some grains of glauconite. Such sandstones are common throughout the geological
column and may be found at a number of localities, particularly in southern England. No provenance is suggested for
your specimen. From its general characteristics and its appearance I consider that the specimen is probably Cretaceous
in age and also possibly from the Upper Greensand.’
waste flakes of ochreous flint each with bulb of percussion and hinge fractures. No signs of secondary
working or use. Topsoil, trenches 12 and 13.
Part of neck of small bottle in greenish glass. Topsoil, trench 12.
Report by David Brooks (member of Merton Historical Society):
Three-quarters of a fluted bowl with spur. No maker’s mark. Late Victorian. Trench 12, topsoil.
Small part of fluted bowl with spur, and no maker’s mark. Late Victorian. Trench 13, level 1.
(Both pipes came from the same mould, as is evidenced by their having the same markings on the base of, and behind,
3. Small part of bowl with small spur. Possibly type 15 (1660–1680). Trench 2, topsoil.
APPENDIX VI – FINDS IN CONTEXT
This appendix includes a description and the provenance of the small finds. Pottery items described in Appendix
III are noted as SPno, RB indicates Romano-British items and IA indicates Iron Age.
All trenches were excavated to a depth of 2–2½ feet, reaching natural sand below gravels and about 1 foot of
Season 1: November–December 1966
Excavated 27 November. N–S ditch found extending into trench 2.
From topsoil: Three small undecorated body sherds of very coarse, open-textured, shell-tempered oxidised red
ware with reddish-brown outer surface. Possibly RB.
Medium-sized undecorated body sherd of coarse textured sandy oxidised ware. Possibly Medieval.
SP5 and small sherd, probably of above vessel.
From ditch: SP7 and small undecorated body sherd. RB.
Excavated 19 and 20 November. Two N–S ditches found.
From topsoil: Small undecorated body sherd of hard, sandy, brownish oxidised coarse RB ware and clay pipe
From western ditch: Two small fragments of coarse shell-tempered hard grey ware with red oxidised surfaces.
Excavated on 20 November. 1ft 0in baulk left at E end and 1ft 3in baulk at W end. Burial III (see Appendix I)
found in NW corner and in W baulk (between trenches 3 and 4).
From above the pelvisof skeleton: Base sherd of a wheel-made flat-bottomed vessel, probably a dish or cooking
pot, in hard grey fabric.
Excavated 19 and 20 November. Discontinuity in north side, depression in sand in centre.
From topsoil: Small fragment of olive-green and brown glazed grey stoneware (17th-century).
Reddish stain (probably corroded object) in NE corner, showing in section of baulk separating trenches 3 and
4. Possibly associated with burial III.
Excavated 20 November, narrow 7in baulk left at E end, and ‘very thin’ (1in) baulk at W end.
From topsoil: Undecorated body sherd of medium-textured red oxidised ware with cream external slip (possibly
Medieval), a substantial undecorated body sherd of a large wheel-made storage vessel in grey ware with red-
brown oxidised exterior (Medieval), and some fragments of animal bone (probably bovine).
Excavated 19 November. No features found.
From topsoil: SP12 and one small piece of 0.7in thick medieval floor tile. Pattern unclear.
Excavated 27 November. No features found. One sherd, possibly RB, from topsoil.
Excavated 19 November. No features found, and no finds.
Excavated 27 November. Only modern pottery etc. in topsoil.
Marked out, but not excavated.
Excavated 3–4 December. Deep topsoil. Vestiges of ditches running N–S, truncated by cultivation. Possibly
continuations of those observed in trenches 1 and 2.
From topsoil: SP4 and fragment of late medieval jug.
Season Two: 1967
Excavated 20 April–27 May. The western, smaller, ditch was found to be virtually sterile. A pit-like feature at
the northern side of the trench, cutting in to the western ditch, produced no finds.
The eastern ditch, 5ft 9in wide, cut 2ft 2in into the underlying gravel, was of irregular plan and bifurcated
at its northern end. The homogeneous ditch fill contained a substantial quantity of Romano-British pottery
sherds, together with animal bones, daub and a fragment of a quern. There was a distinct group of bones from
domesticated animals at the southern end of the ditch. Although there was little or no visual difference, a
distinction was made during excavation between the upper layer of ditch fill – ‘layer 1’– which had obviously
been disturbed in cultivation and shared items in common
with the topsoil, and the lower ditch fill – ‘layer 2’
– which seemed undisturbed.
In topsoil and layer 1: five body sherds (one with two parallel scribed lines) from vessel in hard, gritted RB
greyware, a bronze ring, and a clay pipe bowl, late 19th-century.
From layer 1: two small joining rim sherds and five small body sherds of coarse shell-tempered ware, oxidised
reddish brown (possibly late IA), and three small sherds of coarse heavily shell-tempered ware, oxidised reddish-
brown (perhaps in late IA tradition).
SP2, SP6, SP8 and SP13 and separate body sherd apparently of SP13.
Other RB: two body sherds (one with cordon decoration) of vessel in close-textured sand-tempered grey
ware with black burnished exterior; two body sherds with incised decoration from vessel in close-textured
shell-temperedware;onebasesherdof thick-walledwheel-turnedjarin close-texturedmediumgrey ware
with black burnished exterior; and eight very small sherds in various fabrics other than shell-tempered.
Bung-like object – possibly a tip of an amphora. Wheel-turned in fine-textured deep pink earthenware.
Part of neck of small green glass bottle.
One very small fragment of Surrey whiteware (14th/15th-century).
Trench 12 (continued)
From Layer 2: 23 small body sherds of shell-tempered ware, probably from six or more different vessels. Fabric
varying from coarse to close-textured.
SP3, SP9, SP11 and SP14.
Other RB: two rim sherds from different bead-rimmed vessels in coarse shell-tempered ware; two joining
body sherds of open-textured grey ware with black burnished outer surface and soapy texture; and eleven
very small body sherds in various fabrics other than shell-tempered.
From eastern ditch fill (layer not recorded): SP10 and thirteen sherds of various RB fabrics, including six coarse
Excavated 20–23 April. One piece of worked flint, a few potsherds and part of a clay pipe bowl and stem, late
19th-century, found in topsoil. Otherwise sterile.
Excavated 23 April–27 May.
In topsoil: SP1 and small sherd of similar ware, probably from same vessel.
‘Bung’ or possibly a much eroded tip of an amphora in brown-surfaced red ware.
Minute sherd of off-white Surrey ware 15th-century.
Season Three: 1968
Excavated 24 March at south-eastern corner of new school building, prior to construction of access chamber
for surface water drainage system. No finds.
Figure 15: Trench 12, looking north. Large ditch cleared (ranging poles marked in 1-ft lengths).