Sunday, 6 September 2015

Pleshey Castle Excavations 1959-1963 (1)

Pleshey Castle Excavations 1959-1963
Archive reference: S/SEC/7/8
Transcription of papers


The second meeting of the Pleshey Excavation Committee was held at 2.30 p.m. on Monday, 9th March, 1959, at LANGLEYS, Great Waltham, by kind permission of J.J.TUFNELL, Esq.

Those present were:-  LT.COL. R.J.APPLEBY, MBE., F.S.A. Secretary, Essex Arch. Soc.
MAJOR J.G.S. BRINSON, F.S.A., F.A.M.S. Essex Correspondent M.O.W.
M.R.HULL, ESQ., F.S.A.,  Director of the Colchester Museums.
M.W. THOMPSON, ESQ. Assistant Inspector, Inspectorate of Anct. M.
 J.J. TUFNELL, ESQ. Owner of Pleshey Castle.

The meeting was held to discuss the objectives and to define the programme of the Excavation Committee in the season of excavation proposed to take place at Pleshey Castle during 1959.

On the recommendation of the Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments, the Committee had invited Mr. Philip A. Rahtz to  undertake supervision of the excavations, and he had consented to do so, provided that the works should begin not earlier than mid-September, 1959.

The financial position was discussed and the list of bodies to which application for funds had been made was read out. At the time of the meeting a sum of one hundred and twenty pounds had been promised towards the total of five hundred pounds required. This was without the contribution of the Essex Archaeological Society, which was expected to be made known at the Council meeting of the Society on the following day, March 10th. Confidence was expressed in the likelihood of raising the whole sum required by September. The objectives of the Excavation Committee had been stated in the letters of appeal fur funds as: i) to obtain a comprehensive dated series of pottery from the site, and ii) to examine the remains of the successive structures at the Castle from the I2th.C to the time of demolition in the 16th.C.

It was decided to concentrate upon the area within the bailey, and not to undertake examination of the motte or the inner or outer moats during the forthcoming season. Examination of the moat between the matte end the bailey, although desirable, might well absorb the whole of the moneys available by reason of the probability of extensive shoring and pumping necessary to keep tie trench walls standing and to keep the water out of the sectional trench which would need to be approximately twelve feet deep to original moat bottom. A partial plan of the shell keep was in existence, and it was considered desirable rather to examine the sites of the Great Hall, the Chapel and other buildings known to have existed within the bailey but hitherto undefined in position and extent. It was agreed also that partial sections should be put through the bailey earthworks in an attempt to discover evidence of the date of construction.

The finds from the excavation after examination and writing up would be kept at Langleys by Mr.J.J.Tufnell. It was his intention eventually to house the finds in a small site museum to be erected when the Castle should again be open to the public.

The probable cost to the owner of consolidating and leaving exposed such wall foundations and other features which might be uncovered was recognised as prohibitive and a policy of filling in exposed foundations subsequent to excavation was agreed.

It was suggested and agreed that Dr. St.Joseph, Curator in Aerial Photography at the University of Cambridge, should be consulted with regard to aerial photography of the site.

In view of the probable difficulty in finding paid labour in the area, Mr Tufnell undertook to consult with his Agent., Col. Judd, as to the possibility of raising a certain amount of local agricultural labour, assuming that harvest would be over by mid-September in a normal year.

Mr. Thompson undertook to arrange with the Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments for the provision of a hut and lavatory accommodation for both sexes on the site.

[Signed J Brinson]

Excavations Secretary

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