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St Neots Priory: A ground penetrating radar survey and reassessment of prior layout

Spoerry, Paul and Masters, Peter (2010) St Neots Priory: A ground penetrating radar survey and reassessment of prior layout. [Client Report] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Lottery funding for the St Neots Town Centre initiative enabled the commissioning of a Ground-Penetrating Radar Survey over the site of St Neots Priory: a medieval alien house that was partly excavated in the 1950s and early 1960s by C.F.Tebbutt, and which now lies mostly under modern buildings and car parks, but which is for the most part designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The survey was carried out by Cranfield University, with fourteen survey transects placed in three contiguous blocks over the putative site of the west range, north range and kitchens, and east range/chapter house respectively. Responses interpreted as buried wall foundations were identified in all locations but none could be precisely related to excavated features. The anomalies that were identified for the most part appeared to be aligned ordinally with the cardinal compass points, unlike the excavated priory plan which was for the most part aligned about twelve degrees west of north. A variety of possible explanations for these results were considered, including that the original excavated plan was mis-aligned, but the latter can be discounted in general terms as three surviving column bases that still lie below manhole covers, are clearly correctly mapped. Re-analysis of Tebbutt's excavation report provides some alternative explanations. His plan is in some cases based on a very limited view of structures. Additionally he observed but did not fully record other buildings, some of these were undoubtedly earlier phases of the the priory and some were on differing alignments. He also planned one large structure to the north of the the main convent that he identified as a late medieval infirmary and which was commonly aligned with the GPR anomalies. Clearly Tebbutt's plan, although undoubtedly quite accurate in its depiction of some buildings to the north and east of the cloister garth, was an over-simplification of a multi-phase complex and it should therefore be no surprise that the below-ground GPR anomalies that represent important archaeological features exist on other alignments both within the area of the Scheduled Ancient Monument and perhaps beyond.

Item Type:Client Report
Uncontrolled Keywords:archaeological evaluation, GPR, gpr, Ground Penetrating Radar, ground penetrating radar, Cambridgeshire, cambridgeshire, St Neots, st neots, Medieval, medieval, Priory, priory, infirmary, Tebbutt, tebbutt, 1173, report 1173, Report 1173, OAE report 1173
Subjects:Geographical Areas > English Counties > Cambridgeshire
Period > UK Periods > Early Medieval 410 - 1066 AD
Period > UK Periods > Medieval 1066 - 1540 AD
ID Code:5098
Deposited By: Archives
Deposited On:30 Jul 2019 09:04
Last Modified:30 Jul 2019 09:44

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