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Mark Olly is a Cheshire writer and archaeologist who runs the Celtic Warrington Project Archaeological Unit. You can read about Mark's work in the 'Celtic Warrington & Other Mysteries' volumes.

 

 

 

THE VANISHING VILLAGES OF TATTON (Part 2)
by
Mark Olly  
 
Roman Occupation


After the Romans had left, the site continued to be occupied with one end of the cobbled yard being resurfaced as many as five times. The main structure on the site was a Saxon post-hole constructed long house which measured at least 45.6ft X 14.4 ft (14.4m X 4.6m) with widths of 14.25 ft (4.5m) and 12.9 ft (4.1m) at the north and south ends respectively. The whole structure was raised using untrimmed, close set timbers sealed with daub and initially set into a trench. At this point a dating mystery enters the equation.

Another set of post holes found almost entirely within the long house carbon-dated to 2590 BC (+-70 years) implying that the long house had stood on the same site as a vastly older timber structure.

A fragment of a rotary quern and sherd of Saxon period 'Chester Ware' pottery (950 AD to 1100 AD) were also found close by and it is thought that the long house should date between 500 AD and 1000 AD (if other examples are anything to go by). But the carbon-dates place the structure in the late prehistoric or Romano-British period !


Tatton Old Hall
 

Tatton - an Anglo Saxon village


Several phases of timber fence lines led to evidence of at least two other timber structures, one with a possible hearth, which had stood close to the long house and next to a dye works probably in Saxon times. An 'H' shaped building appeared to have a circular working area with a cobbled centre out side interpreted as a 'threshing floor'.

The traces of the Anglo-Saxon long house and associated features represent the only Romano-British and Dark Age Celtic evidence so far excavated in the North West region. It is thought that the name 'TATTON' is derived from 'TATTERS-TUN', the Anglo-Saxon for the town or village ('TUN') belonging to 'TATTER' and it is mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086 AD. Maybe this site was Tatter's Tun ?

After the Norman conquest the overall site developed into a collection of timber structures probably still associated with farming in the newly developing village of 'Tatton Green'. Some of the Saxon developments still stood at this time but were gradually replaced as the site was rebuilt into Medieval timber residential structures. Banks and ditches in the area dug during earlier periods formed the basis of later Medieval boundaries suggesting that the site had an established character by about 1100 AD.


Mysterious Tatton
 

Tatton in the 14thC

The next period of activity dates to the thirteenth or early fourteenth centuries (1200 AD to 1450 AD) when the cobbled yard was probably used as a hard standing area for livestock and suffered from sinking and drainage problems. Medieval pottery fragments were also recovered from an area on the northern edge of the yard and hearths with stake holes from the same period probably represent fires used by the keepers of the livestock for additional cooking and heating. The Black Death would have reached Tatton by about 1350 AD and a period of decline set in, however two additional settlements are re corded in the 13th century (1200 AD to 1300 AD) as 'Northshaw' (or 'Norshaw') some distance to the north east and 'Hazelhurst' between Tatton and Knutsford.
 
Tudor Tatton


The last period of activity on the archaeological dig site surrounds the late Medieval and Tudor periods during which the village of Tatton Green became established and comprised of about fifteen houses and a village green strung out along 'Portstrete'. About five buildings were identified on three locations and excavations brought up an earthen ware jug and a yellow and green glazed cup from one of the house sites dating from the Civil War period. There existed the possibility that 'padstones' had been used on which to seat parts of the timber buildings, a technique used in the initial construction of the Old Hall, although they had all been removed from the site leaving irregular holes.


Tatton Park Mansion today

Samuel Egerton, Lord Of Tatton, had the entire village, fields and ditches removed when he developed the park two hundred years ago but traces are still visible from the air and documentary evidence for the village still exists. Archaeologists unearthed a series of livestock burials in the area dated to about 1740 AD to 1750 AD which demonstrate the end of human habitation in the area.

 

 


 
ARTICLE ADAPTED FROM: CELTIC WARRINGTON & OTHER MYSTERIES -
VOLUME TWO: EAST TO SOUTH. MARK OLLY. CHURNET VALLEY BOOKS,
43 Bath Street, Leek, Staffs. (01538) 399033.

 
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