Category Archives: Warren Wood

Investigations into the Warren Wood area of Marlow

Pottery Analysis from Warren Woods –

Pottery expert Paul Blinkhorn
Pottery expert Paul Blinkhorn

(extracted from) Paul Blinkhorn’s Report to AiM

The pottery assemblage comprised 296 sherds with a total weight of 4229g.  It comprised a mixture of Iron Age and medieval fabrics, indicating that there were two entirely separate phases of activity at the site, one in the Early Iron Age (C9th – 5th century BC), and the other in the early 12th – early 13th century.


The following fabric types were noted:
F1:  Sand and Flint.  Moderate to dense sub-rounded quartz up to 0.5mm, most 0.2mm or less.  Sparse angular white flint up to 1mm, some carbonized organic material.  94 sherds, 2423g.

Sherds from the 5-9th century BC Iron Age 300 mm diameter pot
Sherds from the 5-9th century BC Iron Age 300 mm diameter pot

F2:  Coarse flint.  Moderate to dense angular white flint up to 2mm. Moderate to dense sub-rounded quartz up to 0.5mm, most 0.2mm or less, some carbonized organic material.  6 sherds, 51g.

F3:  Fine flint.  Rare to sparse sub-angular flint up to 0.5mm, sparse to moderate sub-rounded quartz up to 0.5mm, most 0.2mm or less, some carbonized organic material.  Thin-walled, burnished vessels.  4 sherds, 17g.

 A cross-section across the Iron Age pit in Trench 6, where the pot was found
A cross-section across the Iron Age pit in Trench 6, where the pot was found

F4:  Shell.  Sparse shell fragments up to 5mm, sparse sub-rounded quartz up to 0.5mm.  Most of the calcareous inclusions had dissolved.  2 sherds, 36g.

The range of fabric types is typical of the Iron Age pottery of the region, and can be paralleled at a number of sites, such as George Street, Aylesbury (Allen and Dalwood 1983) and Oxford Road, Stone (Last, 2001).  Trench 6 produced all but three sherds of the Iron Age pottery from the site.  Most of it consisted of plain bodysherds from different vessels, but all but two sherds from Trench 6, context 3, were from a single vessel.  The pot in question is a large jar (rim diameter = 300mm, 20% complete) which was partially reconstructed, and had a fingertipped rim and two rows of fingertip impressions on the outer body between the rim and shoulder.  It is in reasonably good condition, although all the sherds are slightly abraded.  The fabric is very soft however, so the attrition seems most likely to be due to bioturbation rather than redeposition via human activity.  A large area of the lower body was also reconstructed, and it seems very likely that more of the vessel is stratified beyond the limits of the trench.  The rim-form and decoration is very typical of the pottery of the Late Bronze Age – Early Iron Age period in the south of England (Knight 2002), and suggests a date of the 9th – 5th century BC for the assemblage.


Glazed tile  found on site  - dates are possibly slightly later than the dates of the associated pottery
Glazed tile found on site - dates are possibly slightly later than the dates of the associated pottery

The medieval assemblage was recorded using the coding system of the Milton Keynes Archaeological Unit type-series (e.g. Mynard and Zeepvat 1992; Zeepvat et al. 1994), as follows:

MS3:      Medieval Grey Sandy Wares.  Mid 11th – late 14th century.  188 sherds, 1662g.
MS9:      Brill/Boarstall Ware.  1200-?1600.  1 sherd, 36g.
TLMS3:  Late Medieval Reduced Ware.  Mid 14th – early 16th century.  1 sherd, 4g.

The pottery occurrence by number and weight of sherds per context by fabric type was included by Paul but is too detailed to include here. Each date should be regarded as a terminus post quem.  The bulk of the medieval pottery occurred in Trenches 6, 7 and 8.
Most of the pottery comprised unglazed, sand-tempered wares which can all be regarded as part of the fabric MS3, Medieval Grey Sandy Ware tradition of Buckinghamshire.  It

Animal bone found on site
Animal bone found on Warren Wood site

would also appear that it is mainly is of fairly local manufacture, as the fabric very similar to that of medieval wares from kiln-sites at Great Missenden (Ashworth 1983; Blinkhorn in press) and Denham (McCarthy and Brooks, 1988, 293).  A few sherds were noted with vertical or diagonal incised decoration on the outer bodies.  This is typical of the so-called ‘M40 Ware’ tradition (Hinton 1973).  Such pottery was manufactured at the Denham kiln, and also at Camley Gardens, Maidenhead (Pike 1965).  The Denham scored sherds are dated to the early 12th century in London (Vince 1985, 37), although the kiln itself produced an archaeomagnetic date for its final firing of AD1250 +/-20 (McCarthy and Brooks 1988, 293).  The Camley Gardens wares usually have noticeable flint in the fabric, which the sherds from this site lack, so Denham seems the most likely source of the scored wares, and it is entirely possible that some of the plain sandy wares also come from that source.  All the rimsherds in MS3 were from jars, and there were no obvious jug sherds anywhere amongst the assemblage.  This is a trait more typical of the earlier part of the medieval period, jugs are much more common in the later part of that era.

The largest group, from Trench 7 Context 3, is in good condition and the sherd size is fairly large.  A number of vessels in the group are represented by more than one sherd, and the group appears to be the result of primary deposition, suggesting that there was medieval occupation in the immediate vicinity of the trench.

The only pottery which can be definitely dated to the 13th century is the fragment of Brill/Boarstall ware from Trench 1 Context 1.  Such wares are usually very common on sites of the 13th – 14th century in Buckinghamshire.  For example, this was the case at George Street, Aylesbury (Yeoman 1983), and suggests that activity at Warren Wood did not extend much beyond the beginning of the 13th century.  In addition, glazed London Wares, which are known from sites in High Wycombe (eg. Thompson 2009) from the mid-late 12th century onwards, and Surrey Whitewares, which are common at places such as Maidenhead from the second quarter of the 13th century onwards (eg. Whittingham 2002, 89) are also absent, which reinforces this suggestion.  The single sherd of TLMS3, dated to the 14th century, seems likely to be a stray find.

It would appear therefore that the medieval activity at this site was from the early 12th to the early 13th century, and may have started in the late 11th century.

The four “inner enclosure” trenches at Warren Wood superimposed on our topographical and resistance surveys
The four “inner enclosure” trenches at Warren Wood superimposed on our topographical and resistance surveys

Warren Wood Update March 2012

Excited Archaeology In Marlow (AIM) members gathered on the evening of Tuesday the 20th of March, in the Garden Room of Liston Hall to launch our 54 page Warren Wood Members’ Report covering all aspects of our 2 year project. Now available on AIM’s website at, or in hard copy at £10. Contact John Laker (see back page) if you wish to purchase a copy. The report for the HER in Aylesbury, and another for inclusion in the Records of Bucks Journal, are now close to completion.

The evening centred around an illustrated talk given by John Laker, detailing AIM’s investigations at Warren Wood. The highlight of the proceedings was the display of the significant artefacts/finds found by members at Warren Wood during the project.

During 2010 and 2011, AIM had investigated the earthwork at Warren Wood, off Winchbottom Lane, Little Marlow, which consists of an Inner and an Outer Enclosure, thought to date from Medieval times (500AD to 1500AD).

Members will remember that eight test pits (four in each enclosure) were excavated to try to discover artefacts, that could be dated, and to try to find any evidence of buildings that may have been constructed on the site.

AIM also intended to give opportunities to as many members and visitors as possible to explore the areas of archaeology they were interested in. Training was given in all aspects to expand people’s knowledge. AIM started its investigations in February 2010 and continued them until November 2011.

A large quantity of important artefacts was unearthed to help date AIM’s archaeological site, but the additional discoveries of artefacts dating from the Stone Age, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age were unexpected delights (see below).

The test pits in the Inner Enclosure revealed much Medieval Roof Tile (nearly 41kgs) and 289 pieces of Medieval pottery. Many large flints were unearthed and some smaller flakes that were manmade in the Stone Age. 10 Metal items (badly corroded), 5 pieces of Bone and a little Charcoal (23gms) were also excavated.

In the test pits in the Outer Enclosure, very few artefacts were found (56 as opposed to 1999 in the Inner Enclosure). However, 15 Flint flakes and 10 Pot Boilers (pieces of Flint that had been heated in a fire and then dropped into a pot of water to boil the water – in under 10 seconds!) were found.

To our great surprise in one Inner Enclosure test pit we found small pieces of chalk and 18 pieces of pottery with inclusions, or grit. This test pit was extended and it revealed another 61 pottery sherds, or pieces, with inclusions, 222 pieces of chalk weighing 1.392kgs, along with 18 large burnt stones weighing in at 2.845kgs.

The pottery has now been professionally dated, along with all the other ‘finds’. The Medieval Pottery dates from approximately 1050 to 1400AD and the Roof Tile dates from 1400 to 1700AD. This suggests occupation over a period of at least 350 years, probably starting with a wooden building, which was then replaced with a grander building complete with a tiled roof.

But the biggest surprise was the Pottery with inclusions (82 pieces, of which a few had finger impressions on them), mostly from one large pot, Some of these pieces have now been fitted together, indicating a rim diameter of 30cms. In addition, Flint flakes, Burnt stones and Pot Boilers were also unearthed.

The Pottery was dated from the late Bronze Age (1200 to 800BC) and the early Iron Age (800 to 500BC), whilst the Flint pieces were dated from the late Neolithic (3000 to 2500BC) to the early Bronze Age (2500 to 1800BC). The Burnt Stones were not dateable, but they may have formed part of a hearth.

It can be argued that a large quantity of large flints, plus substantial quantities of roof tile, indicate a building (or buildings) of a relatively high standard. The mixture of large flint pieces, roof tile and pottery sherds, indicate that the building (or buildings), had been demolished at some time, rather than just falling into disrepair.

Using extremely rough guesswork, if the 12 x 12 metre square containing the test pits revealed the same concentration of roof tile that was unearthed from the test pits, the roof area would have been 6 square metres, indicating a building (allowing for a 30 degree angled roof), that would have measured approximately 2 metres wide by 2.5 metres long. If the 12 metre square had been a 17 metre square, and the tile spread were similar, a building 2.5 metres by 4 metres could be feasible, and so on.

Although accurate dating has still not been achieved, it appears that the site was occupied from around 1050AD until 1400AD, but probably not much later.

In addition, despite having a good idea regarding the occupation of the site in Medieval times, we now know that men and women visited the area many years before this period  – truly a historic (or, in part, pre-historic) site!

After the talk members gathered to examine the artefacts, have a chat and enjoy the tea, coffee and biscuits provided on the night.


Warren Wood “Lumps & Bumps” Walk Sunday 31st October

When: Sunday October 31st, 10:00am

Meeting 10.00 at the car park in the woods (where we park for our Sunday Morning Excavation) – or even better at 9.45 at the bottom of the lane.

Its Free for AiM members and their guests

The landowner has kindly agreed to walk us around his woods – which has numerous banks, ditches, pits and even what may be another enclosure – all with a possible archaeological interest.  Roman and Georgian coins have also been found and we have a new map with all of the features marked to show you!


The gate at the bottom of the private road will be open and manned  from 9.30 through until 9.55 (on the dot) when it will have to be locked. If you accidentally arrive after then you can try phoning  Gerry Palmer on 07852 758719 – but reception can be problematic!  The walk starts at 10.00 from the “roundabout” car park at the top

Warren Wood 2010/2011

AIM has finished its project at Warren Wood, which is believed to be a medieval site. Within the double enclosure, we have excavating eight 1 metre x 1 metre test trenches which we hope will date the site more accurately.

So, if you are interested archaeological site work, please call our fieldwork co-ordinator, John Laker, on 01628 481792 for more information. If you are not an AIM member and wish to be covered by our insurance, temporary membership is available on the day at £2/day