The excavations at Eastern Green, south of the A45, Coventry, were carried out by L – P : Archaeology (now part of MOLA) on behalf of Orion Heritage and Hallam Land Management. You can read more about the site and the progress of the excavations through these weekly update blogs

Archaeologists standing by a large trench

Welcome to Eastern Green

The area we are excavating has been used as agricultural land for hundreds of years. The area is characterised as Ancient Arden Landscape. This is made up of fields in irregular patterns, with tall hedgerows and field ponds. Ancient Arden Landscape is often associated with place names ending in "green". This is an accurate description of the site, which is cut through by Pickford Brook at its lowest point and rises to a hill topped by a field pond. The oldest standing buildings in the nearby area are Pickford Grange Farmhouse and Pond Farmhouse - both thought to have been built in the 16th century.

Field walking conducted by the Coventry Historic Environment Project in 2009 gave the first hint of activity on the site from the Roman period. They found some Roman pottery, including pieces of greyware and mortaria. Moritaria was used to make a heavy bowl for pounding, grinding, or mixing food.

A piece of creamy-white pottery

A full geophysical survey of the site was conducted in 2019, followed by archaeological evaluation through trial trenching in 2021. This stage of an archaeological project is used to establish the extent of archaeology, trial trenches typically cover 2-5% of the site. 

The evaluation stage revealed evidence of agricultural activity from the post-medieval period, but it also confirmed that the Roman finds found during field walking were evidence of Roman settlement of the site. The trial trenches to the southeast of the site revealed several pits, postholes, and ditches. These contained some Roman pottery and ceramic building material (usually referred to as CBM by archaeologists). One trench had a significant amount of Roman pottery, roof tiles, and ceramic building material. The Roman pottery was dated to the 2nd-4th century and included black burnished ware and grey ware.

A trackway covered in snow
Week 1 of excavations saw some surprise snow, courtesy of Storm Arwen!

To begin the main stage of our excavations, we put in some more trial trenches. These were in the areas where the spoil heaps would be. Most of these trenches did not contain any archaeology. However, even if there isn't any archaeology in the trench, we can still learn from it. Firstly, the trench being "empty" tells us we are not in the center of a settlement! These trenches also showed the paleotopography of the area - palaeotopography shows us how the landscape looked in the past. This means we can see how changed over a long period. It also gives us clues as to how the landscape would have been used. For example, from trenches next to Pickford Brook, we can tell that the brook used to be shallower but wider than it is today. A trench on the crest of the hill showed it once had a very steep slope, today the slope of the hill is much shallower. However, as the trenches did not contain any materials that could be dated, we aren't able to say exactly when the landscape looked like this.

A trench with a old stream channel running through it

Ancient history

When we find archaeological deposits in a landscape like the site at Eastern Green, which has a watercourse and a ridge, they might not be in the place they were deposited. Where these materials have been moved by water they are referred to as alluvium (material moved and deposited by watercourse, such as a stream along the bottom of a valley) and colluvium (material washed downhill by water).

Site fact of the week

Machines are used in archaeological excavations to take off the topsoil and some of the subsoil. The topsoil does not contain any archaeology "in context", meaning it can be used to date the layer it is found in. It is taken off in very thin layers, and an archaeologist acting as the "machine watcher" stops the digger at the slightest hint of archaeology; then the archaeologists go in with trowels and start excavating.

Archaeologists watching a digger
Eastern Green West Midlands