Broadcast 29 January 2012

In April 2011 an archaeological evaluation, comprising test pits and trenches, was undertaken by Channel 4’s ‘Time Team’ in the village of Bitterley, Shropshire (NGR 356280, 277418). Time Team were assisted by members of the local Bitterley Archaeological Team (BATS) and members of the community in the excavation of test pits to investigate the origins of the village and the site of possible deserted medieval village (DMV) located some 700m to the east. According to tradition, the DMV was located next to the local Manor house (now the site of Bitterley Court) and the 12th century church of St. Mary.

The geophysical and topographical surveys and the evaluation trenches targeted upon supposed area of the DMV identified no traces of an abandoned medieval settlement, and all remains identified were agricultural in origin, and probably belonged to the post-medieval period. However, pottery dating to the 12th to 13th centuries was recovered, concentrated in two trenches and relatively unabraded, and it is possible that medieval structures may still survive in this area¸ sealed below the post-medieval remains. If there was a medieval village here, it appears to have disappeared by the 14th century. Depopulation due to the Black Death may have been one cause, but there were almost certainly other contributory factors.

Within the modern village of Bitterley, the test pits revealed a number of postmedieval structures in the form of metalled surfaces and stone-built drains, but none of medieval date. Twelve of the 18 excavated test pits produced medieval pottery (late 12th or 13th century), all in residual contexts, but with a slight concentration in the southern part of the village. A mill recorded in 1165 may have been located either at Mill Croft, within the village, or at Mill Farm, immediately to the west. 

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