Sunday, October 07, 2018

Hallaton Castle: Where J.W. Logan's men tried archaeology

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Hallaton is a picturesque village a few miles north east of Market Harborough that also has its pagan side. I mean to visit it again one day and take some photographs.

I recently came across this fine photograph of its Norman castle, which has been described as "one of the best examples of a motte and bailey castle in Leicestershire".

That Hallaton Castle Hill Camp page tells a story of interest to this blog:
In the summer of 1877 railway engineers 'excavated' the site. They sank 2 shafts into the mound. 'Natural' was 17'6" down. Then a layer of peat and trees and bog earth, including 'heath and hazel, broom and furze, birch and oak', some with axe marks. In this were 'numerous splinters of bone', also pottery, leather shoes, a shoe-lace, charred wood and burnt stones. 
Above this were layers of clay, gravel and boulders with very abundant remains of wood fires together with burnt and blackened fragments of pots and also burnt and splintered bones. Also layers of ashy refuse up to 4" thick with iron objects, one gilded, bits of shoes, wooden bowls, a wooden shovel, squared stakes, a portion of ladder (?), 2 fragments of Roman pottery and large quantities of pottery, some crude 'British' through to salt glaze. 
The last 10-12 feet were clean, somewhat gravely yellow clay with many bones, and large pebbles and boulders. On top was a hard chalky stratum 15" thick. In the bailey 'numerous holes were sunk' and 'the abundance of melted iron ore, which with dross and charcoal and refuse showed plainly that it had been worked and wrought in situ'. 'Burnt red stones… surrounded by charcoal' were noted. 
Horse-shoes, buckles, rude ware, pipestones etc of last 200-300 years were noted. It was thought that it might have been used as a garden.
Those navvies must have been employed by the firm of Logan & Hemmingway, which built the Great Northern and London and North Western Joint Railway through Hallaton.

That is Logan as in this blog's hero J.W. Logan, Liberal MP for Harborough 1891-1904 and 1910-16.
It was the contract to build this line that first brought him to Leicestershire.

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