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Medieval to Post-Medieval Activity Relating to Hussey Tower, Boston



Reference Name MLI13463

Name:
Medieval to Post-Medieval Activity Relating to Hussey Tower, Boston

Summary:
Medieval to post-medieval activity relating to Hussey Tower and its surrounding estate at Boston.

Location:
BOSTON, BOSTON, LINCOLNSHIRE

Description:
Hussey Tower was built in approximately 1489 and was part of a larger building complex. Evidence suggests that a narrower two storey building ran eastwards from the Tower. This perhaps had a cross wing at the east end, which was most likely demolished in 1725 with the construction of a substantial gable there. The estate also consisted of a brewhouse, millhouse and stable producing a building of a type that was fairly fashionable in the later Middle Ages, most particularly during the 15th century. {1}

At TF 3320 4350 in 1978 sherds of greyware were found during a limited excavation, along with medieval, post medieval pottery and a pierced shale fragment. Seen by J. Hardon drawn at SLAU. {2}

At approximately TF 3320 4360 medieval pottery was found. {3}

During excavations at TF 3316 4351 at Skirbeck Road, ditches and pits were noted in three of the trenches. In trench 1, nearest Skirbeck Road, Pits possibly associated with clay quarrying for brick manufacture were recorded. Two of these, however may be foundation trenches for a large square or rectangular building. In the north-east of the site an undated steep sided ditch was also recorded, it seems to have been cut and then almost immediately backfilled. 19th to 20th century pottery was recovered from the site. {4}

Late 12th to early 13th century evidence was recorded at this site during trial trenching centred at TF 3305 4363. From a creek a wattle hurdle was recovered, this may have been used to partially canalise or revert the channel. A number of different types of deposits such as an occupational layer, buried and alluvial deposits were recorded suggesting a site of continual flux. An environmental sample taken from the creek contains only small quantities of domestic debris. This could suggest that the site at this time was peripheral to the main settlement zone of Boston. Late 12th to early 13th century pottery was recovered from what is thought to have been the initial phase of the Barditch. The recovery of the pottery from here could indicate that this area of the Barditch was not fully maintained and may have been used for dumping rather than as a drain or boundary. The site continued into the mid 13th to mid 14th centuries, pit's ditches, cesspits and occupational debris have all been recorded. Further occupational evidence is offered with the discovery of a roughly hewn limestone mortar bonded wall. To the north of the wall is a loose cobbled surface, cess pits, stake holes and a beam slot, indicating what is most likely to be a timber framed structure. Large amounts of tile, brick and burnt clay possibly representing a brick building on the site prior to the erection of the Hussey Tower. At this time in the mid 13th to mid 14th century the Barditch appears to have been recut again. The site has a large assemblage of animal remains, the largest amount of bones of a particular species has been identified as sheep. It is thought that the agricultural economies here were focussed on sheep, bale pins and tally sticks indicate that wool was probably being traded, most likely involving the nearby friary. A large number of finds were recovered from this site including animal remains, local ware pottery, shoe leather, including a complete side lacing shoe, bone needle and an unfinished bone skate. As well as these artefacts the assemblage contained a number of high status artefacts. Eighty-six sherd of pottery from the five hundred and sixty nine recovered were imported, these wares date from the 12th to 13th centuries through to the 15th century. The majority of these sherds are Rhenish Wares, mainly Siegburg Stoneware, but other imports include Meuse Valley Wares, French Ware and Low Countries Ware. High status glass fragments decorated with enamel were also retrieved together with a tentatively dated 14th century Latten Seal matrix. This may suggest that not only was the site being occupied during the period, but that it was possibly owned by a wealthy person prior to Richard Benyngton in the 15th century. This theory is further supported by the evidence of brick buildings on the site. A series of brick built cellars, associated walls, limestone surface, cess and refuse pit were uncovered immediately west of the Hussey Tower. These features are also believed to be associated and contemporary to the Hussey Tower. The site appears to have gone into decline during the post medieval period with few features being assigned a post medieval date. The only evidence recorded were some 16th to 17th century dumped deposits or indicating only limited occupation or site use. During the 19th century the site was utilised as a timber yard and there is evidence of industrial use within the extents of the excavation. The Barditch at this time was enclosed in a brick culvert and a brick retaining wall was constructed on the east side. {5}{6}

During a further watching brief on the site centred at TF 3305 4363 further medieval evidence was recorded. A brick built structure was recorded close to the Hussey Tower. Roof tiles and hand made bricks were recovered suggesting evidence for further building. A large pit was recorded; this is thought to have been utilised for waste disposal, drainage or possibly parcelling of the land. Animal remains were recovered and these are likely to have been food waste. A small assemblage of medieval pottery was recovered and of this assemblage a high proportion of sherds had been imported from Germany. {7}{8}

Trial trenching centred on TF 329 435 revealed further evidence for medieval activity in this period. Alluvium deposits show that this area was susceptible to flooding and although the construction of the Barditch would have eased this it was not fully effective. A roughly hewn limestone block wall was recorded next to a small cobbled area, which was at least 1m by 0.25m wide. To the west of this was a small figure of eight shaped stake hole and a pit. The pit contained a single sherd of Potterhanworth type pottery. This has interpreted as a timber framed structure, brick and tile that was recovered may indicate that it was part brick built with a possible roof tile. Imported artefacts, pottery from Germany, France, Low Countries, Netherlands as well as non-local wares indicate an established national and international trade network. The recovery of slag and hammerscale is suggestive of iron smithing in the vicinity. Two unusual ceramic fragments were found, although these have not been positively identified they may have formed part of a decorative fire surround on stove tiles from a closed stove. {9}{10}

Evaluation at TF 3327 4349 revealed a series of ditches, one of which was dated to the late 13th to 14th century. A pit containing pottery of the same date, fired clay and handmade brick. It is thought that the ditches and pit represent part of a field system that is probably associated with the Hussey Tower estate. {11}{12}

A watching brief was undertaken during works to clear vegetation and level the access to Hussey Tower. An undated, but poorly constructed north to south aligned wall was recorded. The wall measured at least 4m long by about 40cm wide, and was constructed from re-used brick and limestone masonry. It was thought that the wall may have formed part of a relatively low status structure, and probably related to a post-medieval phase of activity on the site. {13}{14}

A program of archaeological evaluation (trial trenching) was carried out on part of a car park at Skirbeck Road, Boston. The trial trenching exposed a number of medieval deposits and features; primarily ground deposits interpreted as possible building platforms and a series of refuse pits containing domestic waste dating to the 13th to 15th century. Large quantities of medieval brick and tile were recovered, which may indicate that there were contemporary structures in the vicinity. Such remains may well survive beneath the archaeological horizons that were exposed. The trial trenching also exposed a number of brick structures, including walls and a culvert. {15}{16}

A watching brief and piling study was undertaken on land at Skirbeck Road, Boston. The watching brief identified a sequence of natural flood deposits, a section of late 14th to 15th century brick-built cellar associated with Hussey tower (revealed during earlier archaeological investigations), dumped deposits and modern levelling. A similar sequence was revealed within the piling trenches. {17}{18}

A watching brief during work on the path round the tower uncovered foundations of an undated wall. Late medieval handmade brick was also recovered. No other archaeological features were revealed. {19}{20}

Sources:
1 Article in Serial: Smith, Terence Paul. 1979. 'Hussey Tower, Boston: A Late Medieval Tower-House of Brick' in Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. vol.14, pp.31-7
2 Index: Parish card index of the former South Lincolnshire Archaeology Unit. BOSTON.
3 Index: SMR FILE. BOSTON. TF34SW, White, AJ
4 Intervention Report: Trust for Lincolnshire Archaeology. 1989. An Archaeological Evaluation at Skirbeck Road, Boston. -
5 Intervention Report: Archaeological Project Services. 2001. Land at South End, Skirbeck Road, Boston.. BSE01
6 Excavation Archive: Archaeological Project Services. 2001. Land at South End, Skirbeck Road, Boston.. LCNCC:2001.151
7 Intervention Report: Archaeological Project Services. 2002. Land at South Road, Boston. BSR02
8 Excavation Archive: Archaeological Project Services. 2002. Land at South Road, Boston. LCNCC:2002.71
9 Intervention Report: Archaeological Project Services. 2002. Land at 8 and 9 South End, Boston. BSE02
10 Excavation Archive: Archaeological Project Services. 2002. Land at 8 and 9 South End, Boston. LCNCC:2002.188
11 Intervention Report: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 2004. Rochford Campus, Boston College, Skirbeck Road. BBSX03
12 Excavation Archive: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 2004. Rochford Campus, Boston College, Skirbeck Road. LCNCC:2003.289
13 Intervention Report: Archaeological Project Services. Dec 1996. Land South of Hussey Tower. BHT96
14 Excavation Archive: Archaeological Project Services. Dec 1996. Archaeological Watching Brief on Land South of Hussey Tower, Boston. LCNCC 196.96
15 Intervention Report: Pre-Construct Archaeology. Aug 2004. Archaeological Evaluation Report: Proposed Sure Start Centre, Skirbeck Road, Boston. SRB04
16 Excavation Archive: Pre-Construct Archaeology. Aug 2004. Archaeological Evaluation Report: Proposed Sure Start Centre, Skirbeck Road, Boston. LCNCC 2004.131
17 Intervention Report: Archaeological Project Services. Apr 2005. Archaeological Investigations and Watching Brief on Land at Skirbeck Road, Boston. BSR04
18 Excavation Archive: Archaeological Project Services. Apr 2005. Archaeological Investigations and Watching Brief on Land at Skirbeck Road, Boston. LCNCC 2003.64
19 Intervention Report: Archaeological Project Services. 2006. Archaeological Watching Brief at the Hussey Tower. BOSTON. -
20 Excavation Archive: Archaeological Project Services. 2006. Archaeological Watching Brief at the Hussey Tower: Archive. BOSTON. LCNCC 2005.255

Links:
Lincolnshire County Council is not responsible for the content of external weblinks.
The following reports are available from the ADS digital library.
4 Intervention Report: Trust for Lincolnshire Archaeology. 1989. An Archaeological Evaluation at Skirbeck Road, Boston. -
5 Intervention Report: Archaeological Project Services. 2001. Land at South End, Skirbeck Road, Boston.. BSE01
7 Intervention Report: Archaeological Project Services. 2002. Land at South Road, Boston. BSR02
9 Intervention Report: Archaeological Project Services. 2002. Land at 8 and 9 South End, Boston. BSE02
11 Intervention Report: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 2004. Rochford Campus, Boston College, Skirbeck Road. BBSX03
16 Excavation Archive: Pre-Construct Archaeology. Aug 2004. Archaeological Evaluation Report: Proposed Sure Start Centre, Skirbeck Road, Boston. LCNCC 2004.131
20 Excavation Archive: Archaeological Project Services. 2006. Archaeological Watching Brief at the Hussey Tower: Archive. BOSTON. LCNCC 2005.255

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