Fragments of history found underneath Codicote

Kevin Jorgensen and Emily Wareing sieve the excavated soil from the first dig site. Picture: Luke Du

Kevin Jorgensen and Emily Wareing sieve the excavated soil from the first dig site. Picture: Luke Duffell - Credit: Archant

Village historians probed the past of Codicote over the weekend, unearthing Medieval pottery and other relics of bygone centuries in an exploratory archaeological dig.

Kevin Jorgensen and Emily Wareing sieve the excavated soil from the first dig site. Picture: Luke Du

Kevin Jorgensen and Emily Wareing sieve the excavated soil from the first dig site. Picture: Luke Duffell - Credit: Archant

The Codicote Local History Society organised test digs in five gardens in the village centre, supervised by a professional archaeologist from North Hertfordshire District Council.

Spokesman Andrew Rylah told the Welwyn Hatfield Times this was the first ever dig in the Codicote area as far as he knew.

He said: “It was interesting to do. It was hard work because the ground was hard, but I think we will do it again.

“Codicote has history going back probably 1,500 years. It had a market in the 1270s.”

Kevin Jorgensen and Emily Wareing sieve the excavated soil from the first dig site. Picture: Luke Du

Kevin Jorgensen and Emily Wareing sieve the excavated soil from the first dig site. Picture: Luke Duffell - Credit: Archant


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The society secured landowners’ permission for the carefully chosen locations, include the garden of The Goat pub in High Street and a known Victorian spoil heap.

Finds included several fragments of Medieval pottery thought to be 12th century, Victorian bottles, and evidence of small-scale metal-working.

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In the garden of The Goat, they found several fragments of clay pipes, apparently discarded by drinkers in Victorian times or earlier.

The archaeologists also found various fossils of prehistoric sealife, evidence that the Codicote area was underwater millions of years ago.

Kevin Jorgensen and Emily Wareing sieve the excavated soil from the first dig site. Picture: Luke Du

Kevin Jorgensen and Emily Wareing sieve the excavated soil from the first dig site. Picture: Luke Duffell - Credit: Archant

Nicholas Maddex, chairman of the Codicote Local History Society, said: “Two of the most interesting finds were a seal matrix, which is Georgian or perhaps older and would have been used to seal letters in wax, and a lovely Victorian bottle with a glass stopper.

“The majority will go to the Codicote Village museum.

“We would like to do more in the future, but we havn’t got any dates yet.”

The earliest written reference to the village dates from 1002, when King Ethelred the Unready sold “Cuthingcoton” by charter to Aelfelm, described as his “faithful minister”.

It was listed in the Domesday Book in 1086 as the property of St Albans Abbey. worth a grand total of £6, and rented to about 20 tenants, although the population would have been about 100 at the time.

Codicote suffered in the Black Death of 1348/9 and took part in the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381.

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