Kent Archaeological Review extract
 

The Excavation of a Medieval Well at Worth.
by John Gaunt.

DRAWING: Plan and section of the well.

Figure 1. Plan and section of the well. Drawn by Doug Welby.

On 22nd October 1973, Mr C Burch of Sandown Farm, Sandwich reported to the writer that following heavy rain a depression had appeared in one of his ploughed fields at Worth. An immediate excavation soon revealed the flint lining of a hitherto unknown medieval well. Permission was readily given by Mr Burch to the Dover Archaeological Group to continue the excavation and the bottom of the well was reached by January, 1974. The well was gradually back-filled and the site levelled by 1975. The site lies two miles south of Sandwich on the east side of the main Deal to Sandwich road in a field close to Upton House, Worth.

The overall depth of the well was found to be 7.70 metres with a diameter of 1.00 metre at the top, widening out to 1.40 metres at the bottom, where the sides had been eroded. The uppermost (1.30 metres) part of the well (Figure 1) was lined with mortared flints where it cut through the natural brickearth, the rest of the shaft being cut through the natural chalk. Rectangular footholes, 10 by 10 by 10 centimetres, had been carefully cut into the side of the well at regular staggered intervals of about 050m.

The top 6.00 metres of filling consisted of sticky clay, washed in during recent times, with traces of rotted wood over-laying the lower fill of grey-brown loam. Some 700 sherds of medieval pottery were recovered from this lower fill. Water was constant at 0.8 0 metres above the base of the well.

The well must relate to a medieval occupation-site, which is likely to be very close by and further research into this will be undertaken by the Group.

THE POTTERY.

The initial work of washing, sorting and reconstructing the 700 pottery sherds was undertaken by members of the Dover Archaeological Group from January to September 1974, and this mammoth task has yet to be finally completed. Some of the reconstructed pots were displayed for the first time at the CKA Spring Conference at Chatham in 1975 and were photographed by Mr D Crellin.

From a preliminary study there appears to be a minimum of 20 pots, all jugs of similar sandy ware. There is a variety of rims, some spouted, some not. The bases are thumb-pressed and the majority of vessels have pricked strap handles. It seems the vessels were originally unglazed, most being splashed in the kiln on the upper parts of the jugs. A few of the vessels are painted and one has applied rings of clay on the body. Seven of the jugs have been drawn for this report.

This large and important group of pottery is of local manufacture and almost certainly from the Tyler Hill kilns (Reference KAR Number 36 (1974) page 175) and seem to date to the 13th century. It provides a useful addition to our local knowledge, both for study of the area and of medieval pottery.

DRAWING: Medieval jugs.

Figure 2a. Medieval jugs found in the lower fill of the Worth well. Drawn by Doug Welby.

DRAWING: Medieval jugs.

Figure 2b. Medieval jugs found in the lower fill of the Worth well. Drawn by Doug Welby.

DESCRIPTION OF THE POTTERY (Figure2) by Brian Philp.

  1. Medium sized jug with undercut, upright rim of sandy ware. Possible spout suggested by section of flattened rim. Grey-red fabric, grey-orange surface with large area of mottled green-brown glaze. Thumb-pressed base and strap handle with three rows of clear pricking. Squat body with faint horizontal cordons on upper part and three raised bands under rim.

  2. Large jug with recessed, flattened rim of sandy ware. Dark-grey fabric, orange surface with area of mottled green-brown glaze (similar to 7). Thumb-pressed base and strap handle with slight traces of pricking. Bulbous body with three zones of horizontal cordons and broad white painted vertical lines on upper half.

  3. Medium sized jug with undercut, angular rim (no spout) of sandy ware. Red-black fabric, black-red surface with large area of mottled green-brown glaze. Thumb-pressed base and elongated strap handle with pricking. Bulbous body with three zones of horizontal cordons.

  4. Small jug with upright spouted rim of sandy ware. Dark-grey fabric and surface with area of mottled green-brown glaze. Thumb-pressed base and pricked strap handle. Squat body with four grooves below rim.

  5. Small jug with upright spouted rim of sandy ware. Dark-grey fabric, orange-pink surface with area of mottled green-brown glaze. Thumb-pressed base and narrow strap handle with pricking. Squat body.

  6. Large jug with recessed upright rim of sandy ware. Dark-grey fabric and surface with large zone of green-brown glaze. Thumb-pressed base and thick strap handle and traces of pricking. Bulbous body with series of interlocking white painted arcs on upper half. This vessel is badly warped and poorly made, the neck being very much thicker than the lower body; probably a 'second', but not a waster.

  7. Upper part of large jug with slightly undercut upright rim of sandy ware. Dark-grey fabric, orange surface with area of mottled green-brown glaze. Strap handle with pricking and thumb impressions at top and bottom. Bulbous body with numerous horizontal tooling marks.

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.

    First the helpful interest and ready co-operation of the owner of the site, Mr C Burch, is gratefully acknowledged as is the good support of all Dover Archaeological Group members. Special mention must be made of Mrs.G. Pellett, Miss J Gosling and Messrs D Crellin, H Davies, W Harcourt, G Hutchinson, K Parfitt, P Shaw, B Stocker and D Welby for their hard work on site in rather difficult conditions. Mr D Welby is thanked for undertaking the drawings, both on site and later in readiness for publication. Finally the writer acknowledges the help of Mr B J Philp in describing the pottery and for help with the report.

     
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