Hampshire Archaeology

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Hampshire excavations # 6

An occasional series, covering Hampshire digs large and small: the Anglo-Saxon village at Chalton, 1971-76.

After some exploratory investigations in 1971, a major excavation took place on the hilltop called Church Down the following year, led by Peter Addyman, of the University of Southampton.  Tim Champion took over the reins in 1973 and saw things to a conclusion.

chalton 0004

Aerial view in 1972. Building A20, on the left hand side, is a large, long structure with opposed doors, individual large postholes and internal division. It is 12.5m x 7.5m

The work revealed the remains of a number of rectangular timber buildings.  From the ‘several thousand’ postholes excavated at least sixty-one main structures could be identified, assignable to a number of phases.  The buildings ranged in size from small square plans with a single doorway, via larger oblongs, with two doors set opposite each other in the long walls, to structures with either buttress- or verandah-posts.  An anomalous building encountered in the final year of the dig measured 24m in length and 5m in width and was made up of four unequal sections all slightly out of alignment. There were also four sunken-floored buildings of typical ‘grubenhaus‘ type, although one, at over 8.6m in length was of the ‘giant’ variety.

chalton 0005

Close up of building A20.

Until the final season finds were comparatively few, consisting of grass-tempered and sandy pottery, ironwork and an escutcheon from a hanging bowl.  The final flourish produced a wealth of artefacts, and faunal and environmental remains; loom weights, spindle-whorls and thread pickers, show that wool production was important.

A date for the settlement somewhere in the 6th and 7th centuries is appropriate and the range of finds indicates far-reaching contacts for this rural hilltop settlement.  Oysters must have been gathered or traded from the Portsmouth Harbour region and among the pottery fabrics are wheel-turned vessels from northern France. Glass and quernstones were also imported.

sax1

Period piece: The Saxon inhabitants of Chalton may have looked like this (Weorod, 2017).

Work on the final reports is still in hand and the excavation images come from two ‘Rescue’ transparencies of 1972 and from the collection of Gareth Thomas.  Gareth has been a keen visitor to sites, buildings, excavations and museums across the south for more than forty years, and has donated much of his photographic archive to the Hampshire Cultural Trust.

Further reading:

Addyman, P & Leigh, D, 1973, The Anglo-Saxon village at Chalton, Med Archaeol, 17, 1-25.

Champion, T, 1977, Chalton, Current Archaeology 59, 364-71

Series by:  Anne Aldis, Dave Allen, Sarah Gould, Lesley Johnson, Jane King, Peter Stone

 

 

 

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