Early glazed ceramics unearthed in pub restoration

Archaeological dig taking place at the Old Black Lion, in Northampton

Many items have been discovered during the excavation of the ground at the Old Black Lion pub, Northampton

Early glazed English ceramics have been unearthed on the site of a 16th Century Grade II listed derelict pub.

An archaeological dig taking place at the Old Black Lion on Marefair, Northampton, found the site had been in use for more than 900 years, since about 1150.

Derek Roberts, from Pre-Develop Archaeology, who is leading the dig, said Norman pits, walls, a flint blade, a cortical flake, pottery from the 1200s and signs of a fire had been discovered.

Experts believe the ceramics are some of the earliest to be made in England. The former coaching inn is being restored in a £2.6m project.

“The oldest thing we’ve got at the moment is the pitting, 1150 to 12th Century, really early post-Conquest,” Mr Roberts said.

An inn and domestic settlements have been found but no later domestic wares, which leaves a “massive gap”.

“What you do find is there’s a lot of pottery in the Norman pitting, and when we come to the wall and the structures we’d expect to have a lot of domestic wares, personal items, and there’s nothing and that’s curious.”

He said further excavation would be carried out.

The pub burned down in the great Northampton fire of 1675 but was restored as the Old Black Lion in 1720.

Mr Roberts said heavy burning was only found in some areas.

The project aims to bring the pub back to life, and will provide a national office for the Churches Conservation Trust, the charity that cares for churches at risk, including the neighbouring Grade I listed St Peter’s church.

Jean Hawkins, chair of the Friends of St Peter’s Church, said: “What I think we’ve got here is something unexpected, getting a dating, with the Stamford pottery ware, is more than exciting.

“We didn’t envisage this, we thought he’d have an 18th Century coaching inn and that in itself is exciting and interesting and it’s going to be great for the town.”

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