What’s New


Burgage Manor Revealed Project

The first of the group’s 2016 programme of monthly talks saw a large turnout in the Old Courthouse in Southwell.  They were there to hear Laura Binns, community archaeologist from Trent and Peak Archaeology Trust, present the findings of the 2015 season of archaeological excavations on the Burgage, Southwell.  This is the first year of a 2 year project, the Burgage Manor Revealed project, organised by Southwell Community Archaeology Group working with Trent and Peak Archaeology Trust and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Three trenches had been dug during four weeks of excavation in the summer of 2015. Over one hundred adult volunteers had joined the project, as well as all ninety children from year 4 from Lowes Wong Junior school, youngsters from Newark and District Young Archaeology Club and friends from REACH.  Many of the volunteers were new to archaeology but under the expert guidance of Laura and Matt from Trent and Peak they were rapidly digging, trowelling, sieving and drawing plans.

Laura explained that Trench 1 on the main Burgage green had revealed  two cobblestone surfaces , one might have been used as a livestock pen or market and the other a hard surface for carts for  digging clay from the green – the clay would have been used for brick making in the old brickworks which existed nearby on the Burgage.

Trench 2 on the small green again showed cobblestone surfaces but these dated from a much earlier time in the mediaeval ages. A boundary ditch and post holes suggested mediaeval cottage plots but a wider excavation is needed to give a clearer picture of the layout of probable ancient houses, barns and sheds.

Trench 3 was sited in a private garden where previous document research had suggested might have been the location of a mediaeval chapel, This trench revealed Georgian outbuildings but no evidence of the chapel.

The plans for our forthcoming 2016 excavations were discussed and it was decided to concentrate on the mediaeval plots on the small green and to continue the search for the chapel in another private garden. The dig will take place over four weeks in June/July 2016. The project is free and no previous experience is needed – if you would like to join contact us at signup@southwellarchaeology.org.uk

On Saturday 10th September 2016 there will be a day of celebrating the Burgage’s past – ‘The Burgage through the Ages’ event  will include mediaeval re-enactors, falconery, Lord Byron, ancient crafts, story telling and music, and a display of our archaeology work from the summer dig.


The Church Street Villa Site 

Wednesday 28th October came some very unexpected and great news that the former Minster School site on Church Street [the Villa Site] has been given to The Minster and will not be developed for housing. Our archaeology group was formed in 2008, under the chairmanship of Trevor Wight, to raise the site’s profile and importance. Many many different groups and organisations worked tirelessly to preserve the heritage of this site. The news that an unknown benefactor has gifted it to the community is absolutely wonderful.



Burgage Manor Revealed Project

The first season of  our excavation on the Burgage is complete and the trenches back filled. The next phase is the processing of our small finds every Thursday 1-4pm at the Old Courtroom, Burgage.

For an account of the four weeks of our excavation go to the Dig Diary at   http://southwellarchaeology.org.uk/?page_id=708

or for more pictures and comments go to our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/southwellarchaeology



The Buildings Group – the booklet describing the English Heritage Funded Project investigating The Pre-1750 Houses of Southwell under the direction of Chris King [Nottingham University] & Matt Hurford [Trent & Peak Archaeology] has been published. Copies will be available at out marquee during the excavations on the Burgage and at future group meetings.  The practical project work continues and SCAG members are busy processing the surveys done this time last year. The group meets on a Thursday morning at the Old Court House. If you would like to take part or find out more please email info@southwellarchaeology.org.uk

Building s Booklet


Burgage Manor Revealed Project 

Illustrated history presentations available on line


The second week of surveying the Burgage Green – 11-15th May 2015
The sun shone and our volunteers swung into action


Who put that tree there?


Ritual tree worship reported on the Burgage


Three wise men ?


Stewart remains cheerful despite getting tied up in knots

The last day of surveying – well done to all 26 volunteers, to Tom for all his hard
work and to Alan for his patient guidance.



The results of our survey will be presented on 23rd June at 7pm in the Old Courthouse, Burgage by Paul Johnson of Trent and Peak Archaeology

The first week of surveying the Burgage Green 5-8th May.

The week kicked off with a packed old Courtroom listening to an introductory talk by Paul Johnson of Trent and Peak Archaeology on ‘Surveying in Archaeology’ followed by a practical demonstration by Alan Morris on the green outside.

On a wet and windy Wednesday morning a group of eager volunteers collected on the green ready to spring into action.


Despite the weather this stalwart group managed to lay out the main grid pattern on the green, mark out the old test pits and survey a few grid squares.

Thursday and Friday both started sunny and bright but later some heavy showers sent us into the welcome refuge of the old Courthouse where much tea, coffee and biscuits were consumed – ( note to organiser  ”double the biscuit order and can we have some Jaffa cakes’) – ( response from organiser – Ugh)


The council mower men appeared on Thursday to cut the green – but thanks to Steve and John , the mower men who worked around us.

Under the expert supervision of  Alan Morris and Tom Hooley (of Trent and Peak Archaeology) we have completed magnetometry of the small green and half the large green and resistivity survey of a few large grids but plenty more work for next week.

Resistivity survey on the small green with David Yates, Brian Oliver and Tom Hooley


Magnetometry looked easy when done by Alan Morris –  one simply needs  to walk in a straight line at a steady pace – surprisingly difficult for some of us ( me).

Our star performers were Penny Calthrop and John Sartain both seen below with Alan Morris.



We are well on schedule thanks to a very impressive team of volunteers ( well done) and to the patient guidance of Tom and Alan .

We continue with the survey next week – Monday to Friday  – and the sun will shine!

Ellis Morgan



An introduction to the Burgage Manor Revealed Project

‘Seeing the light’ ! A really well attended open meeting at The Old Court House. Ellis Morgan, project leader, explains the historical research and introduces the HLF funded project.

Seeing the light - Project research

18th April

Burgage Manor Revealed Project Launch

A glorious spring day heralded the launch of our HLF funded project. The Old Court House was alive with activity from first thing. The room was filled with visitors and volunteers from 10.00 till after 12.00. Excellent displays were on offer from the group, the heritage groups from Bingham, Papplewick & Toton as well as a comprehensive display of the House of Correction, including the development proposals.

Chairmans introduction

Project Leader Ellis Morgan

After a short introduction and welcome by John Lock the group’s chairman Ellis Morgan Project Leader and Gareth Davies from Trent & Peak gave well received illustrated talks about the project and the archaeological challenges and possibilities!

More chatSCAG display

Lots of opportunities followed to sign up to the project, look at the displays, have a brief tour of the Burgage or have a chat with friends old and new.

Burgage tour

A more detailed account of the launch and a video is to follow.



We are back on Facebook 


Newark Advertiser – Search for lost medieval chapel in Southwell 


and the Bramley – Community Newspaper Southwell & surrounding villages



The Burgage Manor Reveal Project 


Saturday 18th April 10 – 12 noon The Old Courthouse, The Burgage, Southwell

MANOR OF bURGAGEBurgage Manor Revealed Project wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

Southwell Community Archaeology Group and its partner Southwell Town Council have received a grant of £49,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, Burgage Manor Revealed, in Southwell Nottinghamshire. The two year project starting in May 2015 with the professional leadership of Trent & Peak Archaeology will make a significant contribution towards understanding how this intriguing part of the town was occupied in the past.

This practical archaeology project focuses on the Burgage Green in Southwell and the site of a lost medieval chapel. It includes detailed surveying, trench and other excavation work as well as finds processing all under professional guidance. Exciting opportunities exist for members of the community to be involved with no experience necessary. A core theme is the practical engagement of years 5 and 6 from Lowes Wong Junior School, members of Reach a group for young adults with Learning Disabilities and members of the Southwell and Newark Young Archaeologists Club. A bursary for two archaeology students from the University of Nottingham is also provided for.

During the excavation period of 4 weeks from the 13th July – 7th August in the first year will give plenty of opportunity for the wider community to come and see what’s going on and what’s been found. Throughout the project there will be regular events to keep the community informed as well as posts on the group’s web site and in social media. A focal point towards the project end will be a public celebration on the Burgage bringing together the community with music, food, and entertainment from the historical periods discovered.

The Burgage Green is a 1.3 hectare public open space in Southwell. It is remarkably unchanged from the nineteenth century which at that time was a central open green space surrounded by a maltings, the House of Correction and three large Georgian mansions. Historians writing in the 18th – 19th centuries report local memories of a different Burgage that had once been densely populated, and of an old hall and a chapel – all traces of which had disappeared. The group’s history research of property deeds, tax records and wills lends support to this picture of an earlier bustling Burgage, but the documentary evidence is fragmentary.

In 2013 an HLF funded ‘All Our Stories’ scheme involved members of the group in a limited test pit excavation of the Burgage Green led by MBArchaeology.

Test pits on the smaller green confirmed mediaeval remains but this method of excavation did not allow for a comprehensive archaeological assessment. Test pits on the main green revealed large amounts of redeposited clay and building material. The main green has an odd topography of hollows which has been suggested by previous historians to be a Roman ditch or part of an Iron Age hill fort. These claims if proven would be of major significance in the understanding of the town’s past for as yet there is little or no evidence for pre-Roman Southwell. Further excavation on the main green is part of our new project and should confirm or refute these claims.

For more information and how to be part of this exciting local community project please see the Burgage Manor Revealed pages on this site.


The Potters Tale

I was delighted one afternoon when I was working in my pottery studio when John Lock the chairman of Southwell Community Archaeology Group walked in carrying a brown archival cardboard box. Inside the box was the remains of a large splashed glaze ware pitcher made of the fragments found during the excavations at Burgage Green, Southwell. It was made sometime around 1200, probably locally.

John had come to ask me to make a reconstruction of the vessel. This was a challenge I was happy to accept.

From a potters point of view there was a number of things to consider when trying to replicate a medieval pot. Firstly the type of clay used, this jug had been made from a sandy terracotta clay which after firing turns a bright orange colour. Then there is the shape, about a third of the jug remains, unfortunately the base is entirely missing but the neck section is complete. Overall enough of the vessel remains to be quite confident of its original shape and size.

Using a specially prepared large lump of clay, I set about throwing it on the potters wheel, I know from experience that vessels shrinks by about 10% so it needs to be made slightly larger to allow for this. After the vessel has been thrown on the wheel, the spout then the handle were added.

Southwell Med pot on the wheel

Finally the glazing and firing, I could tell from handling the original it had been fired to somewhere in the region of 1000 degrees celsius, that part was straightforward, however replicating the glaze was much harder as we do not have glaze recipes from this period. It can be a long process of trial and error to find a match for a medieval glaze.

It took me about a month and a half and all my pottery experience to replicate this great example of the medieval potters craft. I felt making this replica gave me a real insight into how potters worked at this time, they were certainly highly skilled at what they did!

Southwell Med Pot finished

 Andrew MacDonald  The Pot Shop, Steep Hill, Lincoln


Digital Heritage Project

Opportunities for group members to be involved in the piloting of this exciting project in conjunction with De Montfort University – please contact the group’s secretary for details.

House of Correction Digital Form

Not a member of Southwell Community Archaeology Group?  Membership is £15 per a year and provides opportunities to be involved in different aspects of archaeology – For more information please contact us @ info@southwellarchaeology.org.uk

March 2015

Group members enjoying a day of ‘hands on’ pottery examination and other activity under the expert guidance of Jane Young and Jo Gray.

Pottery workshop

February 2015

See the Events page for details of a WORKSHOP with ceramics expert Jane Young

TUESDAY 24th February at the Courthouse, Burgage
Two free sessions for members 10-12 and 1-3pm

Not a member of Southwell Archaeology?

Now is the time to join!

Please contact ellis.morgan.morgan@btinternet.com   to find out more and to confirm a place


15th January 2015

Southwell Community Archaeology Group members met  for the Seventh Annual General Meeting. The chairman’s report for 2014 [Chairmans report 2015 ] was optimistic both in what the group had achieved and the future plans. Members were briefed by Ellis Morgan about the ‘Burgage Manor Revealed Project’ and David Johnson the ‘Early Fabric of Southwell Project’. At the conclusion of the formal business Dr Christopher J Brooke gave a fascinating illustrated talk on the mysterious and wonderful world of Ground-based remote sensing for buildings archaeology.