2nd December 2020:

A pop-up finds display at Bishop’s Stortford Museum and accompanying video showcase discoveries from OA East’s excavations on the southern edge of the Hertfordshire town.

Last winter, OA East excavated a large area (c.3.8ha) of archaeological remains as part of the Bishop’s Stortford Education Zone development. The site lies to the south of Whittington Way, and will become the new home of the Bishop’s Stortford High School. The work was undertaken with RPS archaeological consultants on behalf of East Hertfordshire District Council.

The team unearthed the remains of a farmstead which was first occupied in the late Bronze Age/early Iron Age (c.1200-600 BC). It was at is busiest in the years just before and just after the Roman conquest in the mid 1st century AD. Traces of timber buildings, enclosures (such as paddocks), tracks and fields were revealed, alongside at least two burial grounds. The farmstead was abandoned around the end of the 1st century AD, when the land appears to have become open fields. A possible Anglo Saxon hall-like building (perhaps dating to c.AD 475-650) was found at the western edge of the development, close to a small stream.

An artistic reconstruction of the Roman-era farmstead showing cultivation beds in the foreground, with enclosures and buildings behind, looking towards Wallbury Camp hillfort on the opposite side of the River Stort. By this time, the central burial ground was no longer in use. 


In February 2020, OA East and L – P : Archaeology (who excavated the adjacent site), organised two drop-in open days, with around 300 people attending. Now that the initial post-excavation analysis has been completed and the second lockdown has lifted, a temporary display of finds from the site is available for members of the public to view for free at Bishop’s Stortford Museum. The exhibition includes themed information boards explaining the chronological development of the site. The finds on display include a finely made Roman pottery flagon, which may have been used for offering a graveside libation at a funerary feast, and a fragment of a probable Roman quern used for hand grinding cereals such as wheat barley into flour, made of Hertfordshire puddingstone.

Bishop’s Stortford Museum is free to visit and is found on the 1st and 2nd floor of the South Mill Art Centre in Bishop’s Stortford. More information about the museum and its opening hours, can be found on their website here.

For anyone unable to see the display in person, Bishop's Stortford Museum has a virtual display of the boards on their website here, and we have produced an accompanying video showing close-ups of the finds and interviews with some of the staff involved. The video is available to view on our YouTube channel.