Archaeology isn’t just about digging, and over the past year we’ve been busy writing up our 2021-22 season of test pit excavations at Hillgrove, Ombersley. The full excavation report – a monster 95-page document! – is now complete, and we’re delighted to announce the publication of a companion piece in the Autumn 2023 issue of the Worcestershire Recorder!
Our Recorder article, ‘New light on an old farm: test pit excavations at Hillgrove, Ombersley’, was written by NWAG’s own Murray, Francesca, and Kate, and uses the results from our test pits to track the history of Hillgrove over time. Early activity was represented by a scatter of later prehistoric and Roman finds, which relate to known riverside occupation along the Severn gravels at Holt Fleet. After the Roman period the site became heavily wooded, and it was not until 1360 that a medieval peasant farmstead called ‘Aylwards’ or ‘Halwards’ was carved out of its north-east corner. While we didn’t find the remains of the medieval farm, we unearthed a lot of material relating to its post-medieval successor, which survives as the 17th- and 18th-century Hillside Cottage. By plotting the distribution of finds dated c.1600-1750, c.1750-1850, and c.1850+, we were able to chart the expansion of the farmstead over time, which was achieved by gradual process of woodland clearance. The individual test pits contained a lot of interesting finds and features that reveal the lifestyles of Hillgrove’s post-medieval and modern inhabitants, including their dinners and their dress sense!
If you’d like to learn more about our work at Hillgrove, you can read the article for free on our website. But we’d also encourage you to get your hands on a copy of the Recorder, which is available from the Worcestershire Archaeological Society and many local libraries, and contains lots of other excellent articles on local archaeology and history!