Archaeology South-East
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St. Thomas' C.E. Primary School, Winchelsea

A wine cellar excavated at St Thomas' Primary School, Winchelsea

Project type: Excavation

Archaeology South-East were commissioned by David Grey Associates to conduct an archaeological investigation on the site of a proposed new extension at St. Thomas' C.E. Primary School, Friars Road, Winchelsea. The archaeological work involved the excavation of the area affected by the new build, together with a recording exercise on the proposed temporary contractors' access road.

The site lies within the centre of historic Winchelsea. Consequently, there was a high likelihood that the site would contain archaeological features and deposits of medieval and post-medieval date. This proved to be the case. Stone footings relating to a probable medieval building were associated with a partially stone-lined cellar, complete with access steps cut into the clay. The wall to this building was of two-phase construction, the later phase dating from after the (Medieval?) cellar had gone out of use and been backfilled. A series of stone-lined drains and a yard surface were identified to the east of this wall, with a stone-lined well/cess-pit and a clay-lined pit to the west. The wall cut a deep earlier pit, also probably of medieval date. The rear of the plot contained a characteristic series of boundary ditches and pits, including one over 1.8m deep which produced an extensive assemblage of pottery together with a medieval coin.

The access road could not be excavated fully due to a decision to preserve it in situ. However, a certain amount of limited work was carried out to characterise the deposits prior to recording. Part of an original (but not necessarily the earliest) street surface was uncovered adjacent to the modern lane, with fragmentary remains of a building behind. Interpretation is difficult, but one possibility is that the remains relate to a medieval stone hall with a semi-permanent shop front occupying the street frontage. Further back was a later yard surface of probable 17th-century date.

The site produced large quantities of artefacts, including coins and a good assemblage of pottery from sealed contexts, in addition to large quantities of medieval and early post-medieval building materials (including Flemish bricks). Deposits suitable for environmental sampling were limited in quantity but high in quality, including a number of rich organic and cess deposits.

Click this image to view a PDF of the site plans from St Thomas', Winchelsea


Project Officer:
Richard James
David Grey Associates
Project type: Excavation



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