“Back Garden Finds”

On 28 July the third and last in a series of a series of informal drop-in sessions was held at The Temple in Wanstead Park. Taking the theme "Back Garden Finds", it was timed to coincide with the 2013 Festival of British Archaeology and intended to give people the opportunity to bring along interesting finds from their gardens and look at artefacts which have been found in the park.

Trying on Roman helmets...
Trying on Roman helmets...

Local amateur archaeologist Pete Lovell brought along a box of Roman finds he had come across entirely by accident. He had offered his help to a friend in Woodford Green who was excavating a hole in his garden for a pond. As they were working, they came across a scatter of Roman brick and tile. This was in small pieces, all much abraded, which suggested that it had been moved about, probably by ploughing before the area was built up. More interesting, because more closely datable, was a selection of pottery fragments. Most of this was of a fairly coarse grey fabric which was commonly used for cooking, but there were also a few pieces of finer Samian-type pottery, which was of earlier date, more expensive and used as tableware. Although none of this Roman material was in any kind of archaeological context, its presence suggested that there had been a hitherto-un-suspected building or small settlement somewhere nearby.

Still on a Roman theme, an elderly couple from just north of the park brought in some finds from their garden. When they mentioned their address, they were told that the Roman road from London to Great Dunmow must have run quite close to their home. However, upon checking afterwards, the line of the road, which the Friends’ Ralph Potter recently established definitively for the first time, actually runs through their garden and under their house! The items they brought along were much more modern, but quite interesting. The site of their home had been occupied until the 1960s by a rather grand Victorian villa, which had latterly been occupied by a family involved in concrete manufacturing. Some mouldings which they had found were considered likely to have belonged to garden structures – perhaps ornamental plinths – which might have come from the owners’ own product range. A piece of machinery was considered to be a winding mechanism, perhaps from a large awning, or the blind in a substantial conservatory.

All told, an interesting event, which the Friends would like to repeat.

Have you ever found any interesting or unusual objects in your garden? Ever wondered about any odd coins, bits of pottery, pieces of glass and metal or worked stone? Get in touch, sending us a photograph if possible, and we’ll take a look.

Wanstead.Parklands@googlemail.com