HIGH OFFLEY PARISH

HIGH OFFLEY PARISH
A REPORT ON THE NEWPORT HISTORY SOCIETY’S
INVESTIGATION WORK.
 
Over the past four years the Newport History Society have conducted field-walking/ metal-detecting surveys and excavated test pits in and around the parish of High Offley. The Society concentrated its initial survey work in the areas immediately surrounding the village of Woodseaves. Historical maps and written records provided by local historian Patrick Timmis, proved to be vital in the Society’s investigation work, enabling the society to target certain areas for evidence of human occupation.
The area immediately to the north of the village produced a significant amount of Bronze Age material, predominately from the low lying wetland areas. These included a Flat Axe ( one of the earliest forms of Bronze Age axe head ) dating from around 1500BC, a later Palstave axe head, chisel and spear points all dating from around 1100BC, suggesting High Offley had a human presence in the area throughout the Bronze Age period. To date, no pottery from the period has been recovered, although this is not that surprising as Bronze Age pottery is rare and also does not survive well in the soil due to it being fired at low temperatures.
Iron Age artifacts, unlike those from the Bronze Age, were recovered from a number of sites from around the village, suggesting a sizeable community living there during that time period. It has also been noted that the majority of the or Iron Age objects recovered from High Offley are high status, suggesting the local inhabitants were important or wealthy individuals. Two, rare copper alloy harness fittings or hanging mounts were recovered from a site north of Woodseaves. Both date from around 100BC-80AD. Only a handful of such fittings are known and this is the only recorded site, where more than one has been discovered. Another find of note, was a quern stone, recovered from another site to the east of Woodseaves, this has been dated to around 350BC. Unfortunately, no Iron Age pottery has been recovered. However, a large amount of ceramic material is awaiting recording with the Portable Antiquities Scheme and during the recording process it is entirely possible that Iron Age pottery may be identified.
In contrast to the Bronze Age and Iron Age periods, pottery from the Roman occupation has been found in and around Woosdeaves, although in most cases, in small
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quantities, along with Roman brooches and coins. The majority of the pottery collected by the Society appears to be the local form of Severn Valley Ware. This has a soft, red fabric and was used as tableware, in the form of bowls, plates, jugs and storage jars throughout the Roman period. One site, to the north of Woodseaves produced a huge amount of pottery, including a significant amount of imported Samian Ware, Mortarium and Amphora. Metalwork from the site has also proved to be of archaeological importance, due to the recovery of a number of Roman military items. Military Patera dishes, similar to those found at the fort at Wroxeter, toggle fasteners and imported brooches have all been found on the site. Roman roof tile and hypocaust have also turned up. Local archaeologist, Peter Reavill (who assists the Society) believes the site was originally a Roman marching fort. These were tented structures, usually surrounded by a defensive ditch and palisade. They were used by the Roman army, whilst moving troops from one part of the country to another, predominately during the early years of the occupation, when uprisings by the local celtic tribes were commonplace. The roof tile and hypocaust are thought to be from a later civilian structure. The metal detecting finds also support this theory, as the metalwork recovered from the site can be separated into two distinct time periods, mid 1st century AD (Roman military) and late 2nd century AD (civilian).
Medieval pottery and metalwork has also been found in the High Offley area, predominately to the west of the current Woodseaves village. This is thought to be the site of the Medieval village, which existed until the current A519 road was constructed in the 18th century, at which point the village was moved to its current location. This may explain why the oldest properties are located to the west of the village, some distance from the main road. One of the most important Medieval finds from the village, is a fragment of a Limoges style reliquary chest (1150-1250AD in date). The majority of these chests were destroyed during the reformation and the discovery of a fragment of one, is highly significant. The chest may have originated from the church at High Offley, this being the most likely candidate as it is the only Medieval church in the immediate area. Other forms of metalwork from the period, including coins, buckles, horse harness decoration etc.. have also been found in the fields immediately surrounding the old village green, supporting the theory that it was the site of the Medieval village.
English Civil War period artifacts, both military and civilian have also been recovered from the same areas, as with the Medieval finds. Pottery from the 17th/18th century, usually the colourful Staffordshire Slip Wares, can be seen in all of the fields surrounding the old
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village green. Metalwork from the period, including buckles, coins, horse harness decoration, musket balls and small bore cannon balls have also been found. The large amount of military munitions from the period suggests skirmishing took place, between Royalist and Parliamentarian forces within or close to the village. Unfortunately, no written record of a battle or major skirmish has been found to date.
Artifacts dating from the 18th century to the present day, have also been recovered from all the fields surveyed by the Newport History Society, in and around the High Offley area. The material recovered by the society over the past four years strongly suggests that people have lived and worked the land around High Offley for at least 3000 years. The recovery of Mesolithic flintwork, such as blades, scrapers and debitage from the same areas, also indicate that people have hunted and possibly lived in the parish throughout the Mesolithic era, some 8000 years a go.
All the artifacts recovered over the last 4 years are recorded with Portable Antiquities Scheme and the most important exhibited in the Newport Heritage Centre, located at the rear of the Guildhall Cafe in Newport. The Heritage Centre/Cafe is open six days a week and members of the Society are in attendance on Saturdays between 10am until 2pm to talk to the public regarding the heritage displays and the Societies work.
 
Julian Meeson. (Field officer)
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A Night with David Adams.

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Please support your local History society

Newport History Society are this month in the Community Matters token collection box at Waitrose for October.
By placing a token in the Community Matters box you’re helping your society. Since its launch in 2008, the scheme has donated £14 million to local charities chosen by you.
At the end of your shop in branch, you’ll receive a token to place in a box of the good cause you’d most like to support. The more tokens a cause gets, the bigger the donation they receive. Each month every Waitrose branch donates £1,000 between 3 local good causes that you choose.
Will you all please Go to Waitrose as often as possible
Remember to pick up a green token and ask if there aren’t any on your till
Put it in our Society’s box
Many thanks this can make a huge difference to our finances!
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A night out with Ken Jones.

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Heritage Day.

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Victoria Histories of the Counties of England

Victoria Histories of the Counties of England

A  VCH Wem ‘short’ history will be published by the Victoria County History Shropshire team  by the end of the year and Newport comes next. Just to remind people  about the VCH and how we are working in conjunction with them….

The Victoria County History (VCH) is an encyclopaedic  history of England’s places and people from earliest times to the present day. Based at the Institute of Historical Research in the University of London, VCH is  the greatest publishing project in English local history. VCH is a well-respected organisation whose volumes are available nationally and internationally, and MANY are available online through http://www.british-history.ac.uk/

The History Society  are asking for grants from Newport town council  and the Boughey Trust.  Initially we are asking  ‘seed money’ for a project which will eventually produce a comprehensive, authoritative and definitive history of the town of Newport under the auspices of the Victoria County History (VCH) of Shropshire.

We are intending with these  grants  to  undertake a ‘Scoping  Study’ with VCH  team establishing:

  1. what history has already been done (there have been a few but they relate to specific topics and the only comprehensive history of Newport by Rob Prentice was only lightly researched.
  2. what sources remain to be examined and where they are (including those in The National Archives, Kew)
  3. how far VCH and Newport History Society can join forces and use many more  volunteers to complete the project

These initial grants  will be limited solely to researching Newport town. It will cover the costs of four weeks consultancy by a historian to review documents at Shropshire Archives, Staffordshire Record Office and The National Archives and two weeks for a buildings archaeologist to review materials gathered by our Vernacular Architecture Group and the contents of the Shropshire Sites & Monuments Record Office

It will also be used to further investigate the development of history volunteer groups in the town and cover the costs of a history day probably in Cosy Hall in late Spring 2018 along the lines of the ‘Wem History’ Days (see http://www.whitchurchherald.co.uk/news/2017/06/27/gallery/wem-history-day-huge-success-as-visitors-learn-of-town-s-rich-past-89457/). At this event the historian and buildings archaeologist will present the findings of their research. After which a Heritage Lottery Fund application will be sought in 2018.

Heritage Lottery Funding application

An application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in 2018  will then happen. This is to cover the costs of further researching and writing the history of Newport  and using wider public engagement activities involving local residents. We propose that we and VCH Shropshire will make a joint application for funding towards a two- or three-year volunteer project  to help complete this history of the town. We envisage that there will be a history of Newport (called a ‘VCH short’), potentially a second publication on the buildings of Newport, a revision of our own‘ Heritage Trail’  and eventually  a Red Book entitled ‘Newport and the Weald Moors’

DISPLAY We have a display in the Guildhall window at the moment until 9th September. Here you can see a VCH Red Book (this one is of Telford) and a ‘short’ history  of Newport, Essex

Photo attached. Professor Richard Hoyle (left) Dr Judith Everard (right) of VCH Shropshire visiting the Guildhall and our Heritage Resource Centre in July. Prof Hoyle is the Editor of  the Agricultural History Review and Visiting Professor of Economic History at University of Reading

 

 

 

 

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Update on Rowland Breward

Rowland Breward’s plaque is now on display in 3a at the guildhall, we have also had a very nice tweet on twitter from Shropshire WW1 who will be holding a service on Wednesday at St chads church in Shrewsbury at 5pm for all those who lost there lives in world war 1 they will say a prayer for Rowland and light a candle in his honour.

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