Field Walking Report Great House Fields – Breachwood, Herts Grid Reference TL 153218 Site Reference GHW03

In May 2003 a field walking survey was conducted on land farmed by Mr Peter Shaw of Grove Farm, Bendish. This large open field collectively called Great House Field is centered at TL 153 218 and is in the Parish of Kings Walden. It is situated on a plateau east of Breachwood Green Village bordering Great House Woods and sits at 146 m contour line. The underlying geology is chalk at depth, covered with post glacial deposits of clay with flint (plateau drift) producing gleyed brown earths of the Batcombe Series with moderate to imperfect drainage. These deposits have influenced the settlement, land use and vegetation of the surrounding area. The earliest archaeological evidence recorded in the immediate area is TL 153 217 consisting of LPRIA sherds (Doherty 2000) and some 2nd century sherds found by Mr Macan Lind. It is these sherds that have prompted this investigation. We have at present no definitive answer to who the earliest human settlers were in the Breachwood Green area, certainly there were Neolithic and bronze age people as evidenced by the lithic artefacts recovered in the plough soil. There is also evidence for possible settlement in the early Romano-British period. Down slope from the site across Lilley Bottom there was Saxon settlement at Kings Walden and at Darley Hall a 7th century Saxon burial. The traditional meaning for Breachwood Green comes from the Norman “le Brache Wode (Charter of 1287). In 1493 it is recorded as Brachwoddgrene. The Great House field name I believe comes from the site of a second manor in Kings Walden Parish. The Victoria County Histories quote “the other manor of Kings Walden mentioned in the survey extended into the hamlet of Wandon End. It was apparently granted at an early date to the family of Valoines, of which barony it was held as one Knights fee. On the death of Gunnorg wife of Robert Fitzwalter, the manor descended to her daughter Christine who married the first William de Manderville, Earl of Essex, then Raymund de Burgh, and died without issue in 1233. It then passed to Isabel wife of David Comyn, one of Christine’s heirs. In 1310 it was granted by Edmund Comyn to John de Dokesworth lord of the other manor of Kings Walden and the over – lordship remained with his successors in that manor.” The area to be walked was divided into three Sections A, B and C. Each was subdivided into 20 m square divisions with ranging poles. It was walked on an East West axis at 5 m spacing with any areas of interest re-walked at 1 metre spacing. Whilst total collection would have been ideal, modern materials were dispensed with; however pottery of all periods was collected throughout.

AREA A A large spread of fire fractured flint was observed but whether pre-historic or part of brick making activities is as yet not certain. Also a large spread of non-glassy metal working slag covered this area. This could be associated with a forge linked to stables at the Great House. (Andrews and Durys Map shows an out building on the borders of areas A and B). A small scatter of highly abraded Romano-British sherds extended into Area B, also found were two Romano-British quern stones (this gives tentative evidence for Romano-British occupation but with the large amount of landscaping and re-profiling in this area the material may have been re-deposited, although the heavy abrasion indicated it has been rolling in the plough soil for a considerable time. AREA B This whole area is covered in demolition material and is bisected by the remnant of the brickworks access road. The CBM scatters for the outbuilding at TL 154 218 show particularly well. (This being a condensed area of 18th century peg tile, glazed brick, green bricks and floor tiles.) A fairly uniformed distribution of 18th and 19th century black bottle bases over this area as well as pieces of worked oulithic limestone (possibly statuary or fresco work). A large sunken rectangular feature gives us the presumed site for the Great House (although Pastor Ashley alludes to this being the cellars of the building he then goes on to state there was a large fish pond of ample size to the south of the house (a small sondage on the edge of this feature could be diagnostic here). AREA C This area has had the most recent change to its landscape. Aerial photographs from the 1940’s show a large amount of mature trees in the area which by the late 1960’s had all been removed. Two large clay pits have also been refilled with modern material on the border of the field. At TL 153 217 a small scatter of Romano-British sherds were found the fabric appears to be early but no rims or bases were discovered I cannot be more diagnostic. To the north of this scatter at TL 153 218 there is an Edwardian dump of rubbish which produced some delightful medicine bottles one is stamped Woodland Chemist, London and a white glazed ceramic pot marked J Sainsbury freshly made bloater paste. The most interesting finds in this area are the two scatters of 13th century grey ware. I feel this gives some credence to the theory of a Manor House here at this period. The trees and parkland have probably protected any archaeological deposits in this area for many decades and we are now seeing material being brought up from the plough pan. A large scatter of demolition material was observed spreading eastwards from the hedge line at TL 154 217. This building is also shown on Andrews and Durys Map 1766.

FINDS AREA A Fire fractured flint (sample) Iron slag and bloom (sample) 1 x Retouched grey flint bifacially worked, retouched on both faces 12 x Debitage flakes Rb 2 x mill stone grit quern stones Rb 2 x red soft sandy ware sherd Rb 1 x red soft sandy ware base Peg tile (sample) Floor tile (sample) AREA B 8 x debitage cortical flint flakes Rb 1 x colour coated vessel base Rb 1 x red/brown soft sandyware rim sherd Rb 1 x coarse grey ware rim sherd Rb 1 x red soft sandy ware sherd Rb 3 x fine greyware sherds Med 6 x South Hertfordshie Greyware sherds Med 1 x South Hertfordshie Grey rim sherds PMed 1 x Cisertian type ware PMed black bottle bases (sample) 18th Century Ceramic Buildin Material (sample) AREA C 12 X Debitage cortical flint flakes IA 2 x Grog tempered sherds Rb 1 x greyware sherd Rb 1 x grog tempered sherd Rb 2 x soft red sandyware sherds Med 18 x South Herts greyware sherds Med 1 x South Herts greyware rim sherd Med 1 x South Herts greyware rim sherd Med 1 x South Herts greyware rim sherd Med 1 x South Herts greyware rim sherd Med 1 x South Herts greyware rim sherd 62 g 10 g 17.6 g 11.1 g 26.7 g 154.6 g 12.0 g 8.5 g 5.3 g 12.2 g 16.4 g 20 g 35.4 g 6.9 g 7.8 g 6.1 g 21.5 g 34.4 g 15.0 g 3.4 g 2K 10 K 2 Kg 1 Kg 30 g 75 g 2.5 Kg 8.3 g 6.2 g 2 Kg 2 Kg

Whilst it would be dangerous to draw any firm conclusions from this sample, a number of trends appear to emerge from the work undertaken and might usefully be identified here. They should however be seen as provisional and liable to change. Nevertheless, they form a working hypothesis which future research will seek to corroborate or dismiss. The discovery of low density Romano-British pottery scatters suggest agricultural activity away from a settlement centre and although there is no evidence of Saxon or early medieval pottery it would be dangerous to conclude that settlement was not present. This may be because some models notably Northamptonshie, have suggested a withdrawal of the population after 400 AD from the heavy clay soils of the water sheds in favour of the lighter soils in the valley bottoms. Post conquest pottery appears by contrast plentiful, dominated by South Hertfordshie grey ware and would tentatively support the theory of a 13th century building in the area, as the density of pot suggests it is not from manuring scatters or if it is, it is from an inland. The gap in the ceramic record up to the 16th century may I fear be as a result of the Black Death. To the north of the site at TL 168 227 is the DMV of flex mere (Herts. Ref 1822). Tentative evidence of a population cull in the immediate area. We then have little evidence of occupation till we come across a plethora of 18 th century material and for the first time definitive evidence in the form of Andrews and Durys Map of 1766 which clearly shows the house and its environs. The 18th century glass, ceramic and building material confirms the documentary evidence. Having researched the archives at County Hall, I could find no reference to the House at all but on Andrews and Durys Map the name Lamb Esq. is associated with the House. There is a link here. The Manor may have been part of Charlotte Cokes dowry or her husband Matthew Lamb may have resided there at this period to oversee the rebuilding of Brocket Hall, Lemsford, built for him by James Paine between 1760 and 1775. I know this is tentative but a link nonetheless. The final phase of usage before the return to agricultural is the site of the brick works. All that remain of this are the remnants of the kiln and the large clay pit both situated within Great House Woods. The roadway to the works which runs eastward towards the woods from Lower Pasture Lands can clearly be seen after ploughing and shows up well on AP05/69/110 14th April 1969 as does the outline of buildings and former field boundaries. The only written reference to the brick works thus far obtained are from Kelly’s Directories for Hertfordshire. In them the following references:1907 William Humphrey – Hill & Humphrey Brick Makers, Breachwood Green 1908 William Humphrey 1912 William Humphrey 1914 William Humphrey

In the 1917 and 1918 edition there is no mention of the brick works or again thereafter, and one would presume this to be a direct result of the Great War stripping man power from the countryside and the post war depression making the works nonviable. This is a very interesting site archaeologically and I feel it is worth further research. My many thanks to Mr Peter Shaw for granting me permission to conduct the survey.