19th May 2017:

Following a visit to RAF Brampton in Cambridgeshire last year, when eight early Roman pottery kilns were uncovered, archaeologists from OA East returned to the area to find two previously unknown medieval sites and a number of curious pits or tanks

A beamslot structure and a number of postholes were found at one of the sites, and these most likely relate to gravel extraction dating between the 12th and 14th centuries. Other remains at this site dated between the 14th and 16th centuries, and comprised pits, an enclosure and, more significantly, the remains of a wooden tank or, perhaps, the lining of a well.

The tank/well lining was composed of stakes and planks, which revetted three sides of a large pit that had been capped in the 16th century, when the area was converted to parkland. Interestingly, many of the planks were clearly reused and they had grooved gauges, housings and round nail/dowel holes, which indicate that they originally formed elements of carts or structures. The interior of the tank/well contained medieval pottery, plant remains and pieces of leather.

The other site also produced ditches, pits and beamslots, alongside two more tank-like pits. The larger of these was the most intriguing and, although it did not contain a wooden structure, it did contain charcoal, plant remains, and 25 pieces of well-preserved leather, including shoe fragments.

Although we can be certain that the Brampton tanks would have been used to hold water, a definite use for them has yet to be determined. Were they connected with an industrial process or were they merely wells? It is hoped that the environmental evidence from the excavation, which was commissioned by Campbell Buchanan on behalf of JCAM Commercial Real Estate Property VII Ltd, will prove fruitful and help answer some of our questions.

One of the medieval timber-lined tanks from RAF Brampton