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Small Pits, Big Ideas Report

7.30 pm

The long-awaited results of the Big Badsey Dig were revealed to Society members and dig volunteers by Nina O’Hare of Worcestershire Archaeology Service.  Some 55 people were in the audience at the Recreation Club with 12 people watching on Zoom.

Ian Gibson, the Badsey Project leader, began the evening by saying that it was four years ago when the idea of the Big Badsey Dig was first mooted.  He had been to an archaeology talk with Lizzie Noyes in Worcester when the test pits project was explained.  The Archaeology Service was looking for six parishes to work in partnership with and would be seeking funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  Lizzie suggested to Ian that he should put forward Badsey as a site for test pits.  And so that’s how our involvement began.  The project should have got under way in 2020 but a certain pandemic meant that digging could not commence until 2022.  On a beautiful May weekend, 19 test pits were dug in Badsey, with 86 participants.

Ten months later, after much washing of finds followed by analysis by the archaeologists, the results were available.  Nina began her talk by saying that the story of our occupied villages might not be the same as our deserted villages.  Villages started to be developed in the 10th-12th centuries.  Test pits are the ideal way to investigate the places we still live in.  The project has shown that Badsey is more nucleated than the five other test pit settlements.

The overall picture for Badsey reveals that nine out of 19 test pits had a scatter of Roman pottery, more than in the other test pit villages.  The majority of the Roman finds were at the northern end of the village, but there was still quite a spread across the southern end, suggesting multiple Roman settlements and farmsteads.  At Black Banks, which was the most northerly test pit, there was evidence of occupation from the middle-late Iron Age (400 BC - AD 43) through to Roman times.

Anglo-Saxon Worcestershire is very rare to find, so it is surprising that, in the past, several coins have been found in Badsey.  Certainly no Anglo-Saxon finds were uncovered over the dig weekend.  Again, surprisingly, little medieval pottery was discovered:  six test pits produced medieval pottery as against nine for Roman.  Finds from the 12th-14th centuries were all at the southern end of the village.  Perhaps to be expected, Chris and Mellangell’s house near the church, had just about everything.  Possibly there was a bigger settlement in Roman times, but this is all hypothetical.

Finds from the 15th century onwards were found at test pits in what we now regard as the centre of the village.

Watch out for the full reports by Nina O’Hare and by Ian Gibson which will be published on the website shortly.  Many thanks to Ian (and Lizzie, who sadly died in September 2022) for ensuring our involvement in such a fascinating project.