This years field walking season involved nine Sunday mornings between November 2021 and March 2022. We would like to thank Caroline Chivers and Alister Farr for their support in allowing us to walk at Manor Farm and Bedlam Farm, Impington.
After a very long break our fieldwalking campaign at Manor Farm, Impington resumed on the 21st November 2021. A group of eleven volunteers walked the last section of a field that we had first started walking two years ago. We were pleased to welcome five enthusiastic beginners who had come from far afield and we paired them with more experienced volunteers. The day was bright and sunny and started with a gentle breeze. Hopes were high for some good finds. Unfortunately, in the week since we had last inspected the field, the exceptionally mild weather had caused the winter wheat crop to race away and in parts of the field this made seeing any surface artefacts really quite difficult.
Sadly this time the pickings were meagre with only one piece of immediately identifiable medieval pottery, although Sasha also found a lovely piece of post-medieval Staffordshire slip ware (AD1640-1750) with its very characteristic combed decoration.
During the following two weeks we completed a new field to the north west. Despite snow falling in other areas of the county our field this time was in good condition for walking, well weathered and with only a small amount of crop visible. For these two weeks we mainly had experienced walkers (oh dear – what happened to the beginners?). Here we found considerably more medieval pottery sherds and some that might turn out on closer inspection to be Romano-British.
When we resumed after the Christmas break we walked another large new field closer to Butt Lane. On this field the older finds were very limited but again there was a considerable quantity of modern artefacts including a mobile phone and a toy tractor. The challenge on this field was that a lack of both crop drill lines and horizon features, meant walking in a straight line while always still scanning the ground for artefacts was quite difficult. This was eventually overcome by placing large equally spaced white signs at the far side of the field that could be seen from the transect line start, such that walkers had a reference point that they could use to keep checking on their line.
The last weeks of this year’s field walking season saw HIAG return to a field that we had transect walked in a previous season and found a reasonable number of sherds of Roman pottery.
Roman pottery from transect walking at Manor Farm in the 2019-2020 season
We were keen to revisit the site to have a more intensive look by grid walking rather than sampling by transect walking. Luckily this field had been ploughed prior to plant trials so was in lovely condition to grid walk, but we were also under some time pressure to finish before the field was taken over for the plant trials.
10m by 10m grid squares were marked out using canes and each square was walked by a volunteer who spent about 15 minutes gathering every artefact they could find in the square and depositing them into one bag which they left in the centre of the square for later collection.
Grid walking at Manor Farm, Impington
Thanks to the enthusiasm of HIAG volunteers and the much appreciated help from CAFG members we had lots of volunteers to help.
Briefing the volunteers at Manor Farm
Out in the field at Manor Farm
We managed to complete grid walking of a total of 252 10x10m squares over 3 weeks and this produced an unexpectedly large number of finds.
Finds from just two of the 252 grid squares at Manor Farm
Although there was a lot of 19th/20th century stoneware and glass in the assemblages there were some really interesting finds of pottery which appear to be from predominantly the Romano-British period but also some from the Anglo-Saxon period.
Early Anglo-Saxon pottery sherd with stamped decoration
Our task over the rest of the summer is to process all the finds by first washing, then sorting and the recording number and weight of each finds type, before sending them to appropriate finds specialists to be analysed and reliably identified. We have used our club nights at St Audrey’s Community Centre to start this process but we still have lots more to do before the finds can be sent off.
Finds sorting and recording at Club Night
We hope to complete the work over the summer and have at least some pottery analysis results back during the autumn and before the start of the next fieldwalking season.