Canterbury Archeological Trust

No. 41 St.George's Street
Paul Blockley


Hillside Systems

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41, St George's Index

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Rare coin The last Annual Report 1984-85 gave details of the commencement of excavations to the rear of the old Co-op on St George's Street. These excavations continued for a period of twelve weeks prior to the construction of an extension to the existing shop by C&A. The St George's excavation was jointly funded by C&A and English Heritage.

The earliest levels consisted of shallow early Roman clay extraction pits, the backfill of which contained occupation debris including two small pottery ungentaria. A Roman street located to the north-west by Professor Frere in the 1950s was expected to run across this site . Excavation has shown this not to be the case. It now appears that this street stops short of the city wall, in an area which may have been open ground of an agricultural nature throughout much of the Roman period. The roman stratigraphy on the site was very shallow (c. 20 cm.) and although this may be partially explained by the truncation of earlier levels during the late Anglo-Saxon occupation of the area, it must also reflect the peripheral nature of the location within the Roman town.

The earliest structural evidence for Anglo-Saxon occupation on the site consists of part of a sunken-featured building (the first structure of this type to have been located in this part of Canterbury) which contained pottery of fifth or sixth century date in its backfill. Elsewhere on the site were levels containing eighth century pottery similar to that excavated recently at St Augustine's and St Martin's Hill. These levels were overlaid by the remains of a late Anglo-Saxon industrial structure, which may have been connected with iron smelting associated with rubbish pits containing pottery dating to c. 950-975 and a few residual earlier sherds together with a fine seventh century double-sided bone comb. This industrial structure would therefore have been built soon after the new High Street was created across the city from the West Gate to the Newingate in the early tenth century. The evidence from both this excavation and those conducted by Professor Frere along Canterbury Lane suggests that the area was intensively occupied from this date.

Mace head The tenth century structure was cut by many rubbish pits and a large clay extraction pit dating from c. 1050/75 to 1250. These pits had been backfilled and levelled by c. 1250/75. Within the upper backfill of one of these pits was a long-cross penny of William I minted in Canterbury by the moneyer Winedi and a fine (and very rare) early Norman macehead in cast bronze with a silver wash. These pits were cut by a large bronze casting furnace containing many fragments of bronze slag (with a high tin content) and straw-tempered burnt clay mould fragments indicative of bell casting.

Post-medieval remains on the site correspond to the activities in the back yards or open areas behind structures situated on St George's Street, and consisted of rubbish pits and a bakehouse. The latter structure was almost certainly a detached building with mortared chalk dwarf walls and timber-frame above, enclosing a fine sequence of clay floors and ovens from fifteenth to seventeenth century date.

Environmental 'column' samples were taken through Anglo-Saxon and earlier horizons and through two pits, one medieval, the other of tenth century date. These, together with technological samples from the bronze casting surface and tenth century industrial structure, should add an extra dimension to the final report of the excavation which is scheduled for publication in the near future.

See this place today Click on the logo to see this place today.   The information on this page is Copyright © Canterbury Archaeological Trust Ltd. 1986 Reproduced with permission.
The text and pictures were taken from Canterbury's Archaeology 1985/1986, The 10th Annual Report of Canterbury Archaeological Trust Ltd.


Peter Collinson Last change: 7th September 2008