The Middleton Hall Excavation

From the 14th to 29th July 2012 the National Botanic Garden of Wales embarked on a new exploration of the original Middleton Hall, the 16th century manor house of the Middleton family who were very much involved in many of the first voyages of the East India Company. This blog outlines the excavation work carried out this year with pictures and commentary on features.


That’s all folks! Sunday 29th July.

So, today all we did was plan! There is no more digging left to do. As we continued to record everything in the trench the sun was shining and we felt that we had made great progress over the fortnight’s digging.

We would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who volunteered on the dig! Without you we would not have managed to do the work we did and we hope that you’ll come back whenever we can dig here again.

Thanks to Ed, Rhian and Jon who did a fantastic job supervising the excavation!

Thanks to Professor David Austin for directing.

And least but not last thanks to the National Botanic Garden of Wales for allowing us to dig holes in one of their fields!

A view from the top of the spoil heap of the whole trench.


The penultimate scribble. Saturday 28th July.

Removing rubble and planning

The only things left to do in the trench today were to remove the remaining rubble layer off the cobbles on the south east side of the trench and to plan everything in the trench. You can see in the picture above that there is a square metal frame; this is used so we can accurately draw each cobble stone onto a plan which is at a scale of 1:20.

Plan of cobbles!

Further measurements were taken for large features in the trench so that they could be marked on another plan.

Measuring for the plans

Wheelbarrow , cobbles and cobbles…

All I’m thinking about today is cleaning. Friday 27th July.

Robber trench emptied of soil, cleaning of cobbles.

Today we finished clearing out the last bucketfulls of soil from the robber trench and the cobbles to the north west were cleaned back so we can see them clearly. There appear to be more post/column holes in the cobbles!

Removing more rubble from the cobbles to the south east

The rest of the day was spent removing more soil from the cobbles to the south east! There is a lot to remove but we’re getting there!

Digging ourselves a ditch. Thursday 26th July.

Cobbles on the west side of trench

As we finished clearing the rubble and soil from the cobbles in the west end of the trench we discovered a gully built into the cobbles which would have been part of a drainage system. The presence of this gully and the cobbles on the east side of the robber trench confuse our initial thought that we had an exterior and interior of a house, the ground floor interior being the main living quarters. The cobbles on both sides suggest that this house in fact had an undercroft; an area where household tasks, such as laundry, could be done.

The northern end of the robber trench with large lumps of stone and bedrock

The robber trench has nearly been emptied of soil! We have found large stones (like the one to the south) and huge lumps of bedrock which has evidently been cut elsewhere and placed here as foundation stones.

Clearing more rubble to expose more of the good quality cobbles

Cobbles cobbles everywhere. Wednesday 25th July.

Today we continued excavating more of the north end of the robber trench. As we worked down we came across a large stone very similar to that found in the other end of the robber trench.

Removing more soil from the robber trench

The half section through the probable post/column hole in the cobbles was completed today and it goes all the way down to subsoil.

Half sectioned post/column hole

As we cleared away more soil from the east side of the trench we uncovered… guess what? MORE cobbles!!! These seem to be of better quality than those originally uncovered last year. Our dreams of finding a lovely intact tiled interior floor were shattered but we were still very pleased to find this fine cobbling!

More cobbles starting to emerge from beneath the rubble

Some of the finds discovered today included glass, a roof tile and a lump of dark limestone type material amongst small pieces of pottery.

Glass bottle rim and neck


Dark limestone type material