Digging into the past - Enthusiasts uncover old village high street

PUBLISHED: 11:47 28 August 2008 | UPDATED: 16:29 05 May 2010

Archaeologists at work at Norton

Archaeologists at work at Norton

THE hidden past of a village has gradually been uncovered by archaeology enthusiasts. Throughout August members of Norton Community Archaeology Group have been excavating a site in Church Field in Norton, near Letchworth GC. This follows its successful di

THE hidden past of a village has gradually been uncovered by archaeology enthusiasts.

Throughout August members of Norton Community Archaeology Group have been excavating a site in Church Field in Norton, near Letchworth GC.

This follows its successful dig in the field last year when the foundations of a barn from around 1700 were uncovered together with some medieval features and a Bronze Age pit.

This year's project focused on a different part of the field, beside an abandoned crossroads where the old village high street crosses Shefford Lane - the original road between Baldock and Stotfold.

The excavation is examining the hollow where the high street once ran and a series of surfaces ranging from large cobbles to flinty gravel, with running repairs made using chalk, has been found.

The road was abandoned in the early 18th century when the present Norton Road was laid out. This was probably because it had worn into a deep hollow that became unusable in wet weather.

In one arm of the crossroads, the team has been uncovering what seems to be the floor of the last house to have stood there. The remains of its clay floor contain finds dating from the second half of the 18th century, suggesting it was demolished before 1800.

Underneath it, the team was hoping to uncover the floors of still earlier buildings. Already, finds dating from the 10th to 15th centuries suggest the site was used during the Middle Ages.

The project, which finishes on Sunday, is being conducted entirely by local amateurs under the direction of North Hertfordshire District Council's archaeology officer Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews and supervised by Mick James, a local archaeologist.

For more details, visit the group's website at http://www.nortoncommarch.com and for daily updates read the group's blog at http://nortoncommarch.wordpress.com

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