Backwell Environment Trust

...15 years of conservation, protection, improvement...

The 700th Anniversary of the Warren - excavating the Cottage

June 10th 2018 was the 700th anniversary of the forming of the rabbit warren on Backwell Hill. Sir Richard de Rodney was granted the right to free warren by King Edward II on 10th June 1318. The Warrener's Cottage in Jubilee Stone wood dates back to the 1780s and was still lived in until at least 1843. See:  The Warrener's Cottage

To mark this anniversary BET started to uncover the remains of the cottage walls, with guidance of Vince Russett, ex-North Somerset county archaeologist.

G0241534 ed HDR 700

We hope that the excavation will give us some clues about how the warrener and his family might have lived and worked.  Already the inital clearance of soil from the walls is starting to transform the grassy mounds and to show the configuration of the old cottage. 

G0251749 cr 700

Just a few work mornings later and the cottage walls are clearly visible together with the side entrance and floor.

P1040027 700

During the excavation we have found many fragments of pottery plus some unexpected relics.  These include what appear to be a wild boar tusk and two clay marbles from the late 1800s.

WC findsx2 700

Our Anniversary Open Day was well attended and we were pleased to show lots of interested visitors around the site and our finds.

Follow the progress of the project in these galleries: Volunteers in Action 2018 and Volunteers in Action 2019.

September 2018:  We hope to excavate the interior of the cottage in 2019 or 2020.  In the meantime the tops of the exposed walls have been protected with lime mortar to prevent rain and frost damage.

Cottage mortar 700

May 2019:  We have been extending our excavation around the outside of the main walls. In the photo below, Mark can be seen working on the right side and has just found some new walls.  On the very left is the fabulous new curved dry stone wall our volunteers have built using some of the stone we have dug up. We are using more to rebuild the old garden wall.Cottage May 19 HDR 700

July 2019:  We were amazed to uncover the foundations of an outbuilding on the right side. Old maps did not show this, but did have a small outbuilding at the back. We have uncovered a small section of wall behind the cottage which may be the start of this. 

Cottage July 19 700

August 2019: After digging deeper than we anticipated, the outhouse at the back is now clearly evident. The floor comprises stones set neatly on their edges and there is what was probably a stone work bench or table in the middle of the room. Even further back are yet more remains and the boundary wall which ran down to the lane.DJI 4129 HDR 700

With all these exciting finds, the project looks set to run for some time yet. We have written a plan for excavating the inside, which has been approved by the current county archaeologist.  Watch this space!

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