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Transactions Volume 97 2023

Hon. Editor: John Thomas, B.A., M.A.
Hon. Editor (Reviews): Peter Walker, LL.B., M.A., Ph.D.

Illustration of Bradgate House by Leonard Knyff from Britannia Illustrata (1707),  folio 12.

Illustration of Bradgate House by Leonard Knyff from Britannia Illustrata (1707), folio 12.

Editor John Thomas

Front cover, prelims

Antony R. R. Mustchin, Andy Richmond

Beneath Bardon Hill: An Iron Age Pit Alignment within its Landscape and Cultural Context

Iron Age pit alignments are a frequently recorded class of monument, the interpretation of which has traditionally focused either on an assumed functional role – for example, as physical boundaries – or on their perceived symbolic or ritual significance. While the feasibility of these monuments as effective physical barriers is commonly called into question, the idea that they held a less prosaic purpose, perhaps as territorial markers or emblematic boundaries, is more widely accepted. For example, at Kilvington, Nottinghamshire, a pit alignment was seen to separate landscapes with different physical and conceptual properties; namely, dry valley slope and river floodplain. Indeed, it has been latterly suggested that understanding the landscape context of pit alignments is key to any interpretation of their significance and purpose. With this in mind, this paper presents the findings of an archaeological investigation at Bardon Hill Quarry, Leicestershire, which revealed part of an extensive Early Iron Age pit alignment, and discusses it in terms of its physical and cultural environs.

James Harvey, Jennifer Browning, Richard Thomas

The Earliest Evidence for Settled Occupation within Bradgate Park, Leicestershire: Survey and Evaluative Excavation of an Iron Age Enclosure

We present the results of evaluative excavation of an upstanding earthwork enclosure located within Bradgate Park, first identified by aerial survey and confirmed through geophysical survey. Four evaluation trenches across different parts of the enclosure were excavated in 2017. Although the enclosure remains undated, a spatial association between a roundhouse drip gully and the entranceway into the enclosure implies that the two features are contemporaneous. The combined results of the evaluation indicates that the earthwork represents the visible remains of a large Middle to Late Iron Age enclosure, and provides the earliest confirmed evidence for settled occupation within Bradgate Park.

Gavin Speed

A Thermae and Aqueduct in Roman Leicester: Recent Discoveries at Jewry Wall Museum and The Raw Dykes

Roman Leicester (Ratae Corieltauvorum) was provided with a large public baths complex in the mid-second century AD. The remains were excavated in the 1930s, Leicester’s first major archaeological excavation, under the direction of Dame Kathleen Kenyon. After this they were preserved for public display, with a museum being added in the 1960s. The baths complex had seen little archaeological investigation since. In 2016 the museum and grounds were closed for a phase of major refurbishment. In advance of the new groundworks needed, over a period of five years, archaeological investigations were undertaken by University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) within the grounds of the Jewry Wall bathhouse remains and museum. These investigations were the most intense phase of archaeological work on the baths complex, since the seminal excavations almost a century ago. The new results have brought to light new understandings into the early Roman – pre-baths – activity, the Roman bathhouse complex, and to the later use of the site. Crucial to the successful functioning of the large public bathhouse would be a large and regular supply of water. A possible leat aqueduct lies to the south of the town, where a large earthwork known as ‘Raw Dykes’ may have once been as much as 2km long, but now just 110m survives above ground. In 2021, two trial trench evaluations investigated this enigmatic feature, the results of which have added a significant contribution to the understanding of its date and function. This article details the new results from both the Jewry Wall museum and the Raw Dykes, and also re-visits those from the 1936 to 1939 excavations. These are placed into the context of discoveries from other related investigations, further developing our knowledge and understanding of Leicester’s Roman past.

Lawrence Billington

A Romano-British Farmstead at Hinckley Road, Sapcote, Leicestershire

Excavations on the western side of the village of Sapcote revealed an enclosed farmstead of Romano-British date. Whilst associated finds assemblages were relatively modest, the site seems to have been in use from the late first or second century through to the fourth century AD, with evidence for domestic settlement, crop processing and metalworking taking place within a set of three major conjoined rectilinear enclosures. A particularly notable find was an unusual decorated quern stone; this, together with quantities of reused ceramic building material, hints that this relatively low-status site may have had direct links with wealthier settlements in the area – perhaps with the nearby long-known but poorly documented villa complex adjacent to the Fosse Way, to the east of the modern village.

David J. Lewis

A Complete Transcript and Translation of the Woodford Cartulary Pertinent to Ashby Folville, Leicestershire

Compiled by wealthy families or institutions, a cartulary is a collection of deeds, charters and other legal documents (either original or transcripts) that document entitlement to land and property. This article concentrates on the manuscript folios pertinent to the manor of Ashby Folville in Leicestershire contained within the Woodford cartulary held in the British Library (Cotton, Claudius, A. 13). Whilst Nichols, Copinger et al. provide certain extracts within their respective publications, they are limited to (un-expanded) transcripts (mostly of the Medieval English text) with little or no translations. This article provides transcripts of the complete text (fully expanded), along with translations (from Latin and Norman French).

Vanessa McLoughlin

Acquisition, Co-operation and Abandonment: How the Court of Rothley Soke managed the activities of soke tenants in the medieval period

In the thirteenth century, Rothley Soke Court operated under rules laid down by custom, the basis of which was established by King Henry III when he placed the manor, soke and parish in the hands of the Knights Templar. Some of the details of these customs were set out in a custumal – a rental and customary – through which the Templars raised rents and other dues. The soke court acted under the control of the king’s bailiff, who was also responsible for making payments from the Soke and Bailiwick of Rothley to third parties. The management of the soke tenants by the soke court can be demonstrated through three cases in Rothley and Mountsorrel, Barsby with South Croxton, and North Marefield in Leicestershire. These cases demonstrate elements of land acquisition, co-operation between groups of soke tenants and abandonment by soke tenants prior to the desertion of their township.

Richard Thomas, Jennifer Browning, James Harvey, Peter Liddle, Heidi Addison, Paul Blinkhorn, Nick Hill, Jonathan Walsh

Fit for a King? A Post-Medieval Stable and Horse Bone Assemblage from Bradgate Park, Leicestershire

In 2018, the Bradgate Park Fieldschool (2015–19) investigated the remains of a large building to the south of Bradgate House, located close to the River Lin. Excavations confirmed the presence of a sizeable two-storey stable, with an elaborate porch, and containing stalling for at least 25 horses. The archaeological and architectural evidence supports a date of construction in the early to mid[1]seventeenth century, with evidence for modest later remodelling. Historical evidence indicates the site was in use until the mid-nineteenth century, albeit with a reduced function from the eighteenth century. The paucity of in-situ deposits and demolition debris indicates the structure was thoroughly dismantled, with building materials recycled, in the mid-nineteenth century. The structure forms part of a tradition of ‘great house’ stables that emerges as a building type from the late sixteenth century and testifies to the importance of horses as markers of elite status. Evidence of the horses that may have been stalled in the structure was recovered from a revetted platform to the immediate north of the building, which contained the skeletal remains of at least 24 animals that had been knackered before being used as building material.

David Fogg Postles

Class and Economic Relationships in Late-Victorian Leicestershire

The lower strata of the middle class – the small tradespeople, shopkeepers and retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and peasants – all those sink gradually into the proletariat, partly because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which modern industry is carried on, and is swamped in competition with the large capitalists

Jess Jenkins

Partners in Protest: The men behind Leicester's Suffragettes

It is widely recognised that the activities of women are largely invisible in history. When researching, for instance, the role of female anti-slavery groups, it is quite common to find no mention at all in learned histories of abolition of their very significant contribution. Interestingly, the cloak of invisibility can fall upon men too. Turn to a book about suffragists or suffragettes, and you will find few if any references to the role of the male sympathisers and their support groups. Certainly, some remember the role of John Stuart Mill’s early efforts as a radical MP to secure women’s suffrage, but who now recalls Jacob Bright (1821–99), Henry Fawcett (1833–84) or Frederick Pethick Lawrence (1871–1961)? It is an injustice that is only magnified when one examines the case locally. The first national women’s suffrage petition was assembled in 1866 in the house of Leicester’s radical MP Peter A. Taylor. Who now recalls the exertions of the Reverend John Page Hopps (1834–1911), Minister at the Great Meeting in Leicester, who funded and presided over many women’s suffrage meetings in Leicester with the thundering cry ‘Do right though the heavens fall!’? When one looks at the later struggle for women’s suffrage, characterised most unfairly – and deliberately in some quarters – as the suffragette war, the story is much the same and the injustice is arguably even greater since the actions of the male supporters entailed courage and sacrifice on a completely new scale.

Gavin Speed Ed.

Archaeology in Leicestershire and Rutland 2022

Richard Clark


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Annual Report

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Officers of the Society

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Transactions Volume 96 2022 is also available

Trojan mosaic from Transactions 2022 front cover