Community Grant backs archaeological dig

Members Of Braunstone Heritage Archive Group Doing An Archaeological Dig At Church Fields

A Community Grant from Blaby District Council is backing an ambitious bid to uncover the medieval secrets of Braunstone’s past.

The grant was awarded to the Braunstone Heritage Archive Group to help them with a long term archaeological project sited around Church Fields.

This summer the project will see digs taking place at the weekends during the Festival of Archaeology fortnight up until 30 July.

With the help of local professional archaeologists, group members and volunteers from both the district and city side of Braunstone hope to find evidence of a long lost manor house and other buildings dating from the 13th and 14th centuries.

It is an ongoing campaign on Church Fields, with investigations expected to last over the next few years.

John Dodd, from the group, said the project was inspired by the discovery of a document in the county records office dated 1299 which gave details of who was living in Braunstone village.

The document is an inventory of the local area under the control of the ‘lord of the manor’, a minor lord who had died in 1265.

John explained: "There must have been some kind of dispute as to his wealth which led to the drawing up of the 1299 inventory. It shows this lord had a substantially built manor house building just to the southwest of the church, but nobody knows exactly where.

"The general location is Church Fields, hence our search by test pitting to see not only what traces of the manor house still exist but to find the dwellings of the other inhabitants mentioned in the 1299 document. It is unusual to find documents that list the names of any villagers living around the 1200-1300s, so this is a fascinating document. In one instance it lists the Chaplin, called John, who had a cottage!"

The Council’s latest grant went on running costs, including room hire to allow the group to muster volunteers for the July digs.

A previous initial exercise on Church Fields in 2019, also partly funded by the Council, did find dateable pottery from the Roman period right up to the present day.

The oldest bit of pottery found in context could only be dated between 900 and 1100 AD and was found alongside significant burnt crops and the tip of a wooden stake. This could have been the result of a Viking raid.

During these digs no trace of the manor house was found, so the group decided to launch this new project with its community test pits.

The first test pit dig this year on Saturday and Sunday 15/16 July yielded various items of early medieval pottery.

Councillor Nigel Grundy, Blaby District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhood Services and Assets, said: "Our Community Grants support a wide variety of projects across the District and it is always immensely satisfying to see the money put to good use. This is a fascinating long-term project which aims to shed new light on the history and heritage of one or our oldest established settlements. I’m looking forward to finding out what the group discover."

The project is in its early stages and over the next few years the group should be able to provide a full report of their investigations.

See Braunstone Heritage Archive Group’s Facebook page for more information:

For more information about the Council’s Community Grants Scheme visit Community Grants or call our Grants Officer on 0116 2727595.

For more information on history and heritage across the District go to Visit Blaby 


Councillor Nigel Grundy

Councillor Nigel Grundy
Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhood Services and Assets

21 July 2023