Austhorpe is a small community on the north-eastern edge of the Leeds conurbation (West Yorkshire UK). Although in recent decades it has been overshadowed by Crossgates, Austhorpe is the older settlement. It is mentioned in the Domesday Survey compiled for William the Conqueror in 1086 but the origins of the settlement may go back much further. Austhorpe is next to the line of the prehistoric earthwork now known as Grim’s Ditch and several Romano-British sites have been excavated in the area. In more recent times the village has had at least one famous inhabitant – John Smeaton, who designed the Eddystone lighthouse.
In the autumn of 2012 I was asked by Austhorpe Primary School to work on an archaeological project in the school grounds. After lots of planning the work finally took place in June 2013. The children all worked very hard during their time on the project and many gave up their playtime to continue digging. No archaeological features were identified. The area excavated was perhaps too small for this – only three 2.0 m x 2.0 m test pits. However, the children did recover a large range of finds which included modern, 17th century and medieval pottery, fragments of clay pipe and lots of litharge. All the fragments were quite small. This suggests that these items were spread across what is now the school field with the rest of the constituents of night soil. Over the years ploughing would break up the objects into even smaller pieces.
If you would like to read more about the project including a description of the finds, click on the link below to download a pdf of the site report.