Construction work on a new housing development in Runcorn, Cheshire, has unearthed what are thought to be the final remains of the medieval village of Norton. Around 80 archaeological features have been found at the site near Lodge Farm, off Highgate Close, Norton village, since excavation began at the end of April.
Archaeologists have unearthed shards of pottery they believe date from the 13th and 14th centuries, as well as the footings and post holes of former timber-framed houses close to site of the old village road. The site, which is around 700 square metres, was required to be excavated because it is in a location of archaeological interest and remains of medieval buildings, as well as pits containing prehistoric pottery, were found when the adjacent lot was excavated in the 1970s.
The history of Norton dates back to the Domesday Book, which lists the village as having two manors. In 1134 the Augusitinian monastery of Norton Priory was established near the village.
The items recovered from the site are being analysed at the Oxford Archaeology North laboratory at Lancaster, where archaeologists will analyse the artefacts and carbon date organic samples. They will compare the results with records from previous local excavations to build up a better picture of how the settlement has developed.
Jamie Quartermaine, senior project manager at Oxford Archaeology North, who has been leading the project, said: “This is almost the last surviving remains of the old medieval village of Norton on land that is beside the main thoroughfare of the village. We have found evidence of buildings in the form of post holes, where vertical timbers were set into the ground, and also shreds of medieval pottery.”
Social landlord Riverside is currently developing the site to provide three new pairs of three-bedroom semi-detached homes. The homes, designed by Croft Goode Architects, will provide sustainable housing for local people and will be made affordable under a shared ownership scheme.
Adam Scott, associate director of Croft Goode Architects, said: “It’s ironic how these early medieval dwellings were made from timber frames, when timber frame construction has made such a big comeback in recent years as a method of building modern homes. It’s clear that a human settlement has been on this site for thousands of years, and so it also shows how we still choose to build homes in locations chosen by our ancestors.”
Excavation work is now drawing to a close at the site, meaning work can recommence on the new homes, which are being built by Seddon Construction and are scheduled to be completed later this year.
Sam Worgan, project manager at Riverside, said: “This has been an exciting discovery and a first for Riverside in all the years we have been developing. The new homes for sale will have a unique selling point with all this history behind them.”