FIELD-WALKING

Field-walking is the process of dividing a field up into 20x20 meter grids and then carefully walking over each grid in turn picking up anything visible on the surface of the soil. This is best done when the ground has been ploughed and harrowed and, in most cases, drilled with the next seasons crop. Everything from each square is placed in separate marked bags for later identification. Over hundreds of years, farmers have thrown all their rubbish as well as animal and human faeces onto their fields to ‘lighten’ them.  Known as manuring or night-soiling, this increased the nutrients in the soil as well as getting rid of all the rubbish in the

days before bin collections.

Once washed and dried, the‘ finds’ started to tell us who had been living in our landscape, what they had been doing and, more importantly, a rough time scale of when that was; we started finding pottery from the Roman period (later 4th early 5th C) through to modern times. Until now, the history of North Duffield started around 900AD in Anglian times as far as we knew-the first record being in the Doomsday Book of 1086 when Nort Duffelt is mentioned. Now we could say that people were living in this landscape 500 years or so earlier.

We realised that field-walking would only take us so far and that we needed to broaden our horizons and knuckle down to some serious archaeology. This led us into making an application for Heritage Lottery funding.


A full version of this item can be found in the book : ‘North Duffield:Archaeology and the Local Community’ for sale from this website at £12.50(£15 with P & P)