Archaeologists find remains of late-medieval cart track

A field off Bardfield Road, Finchingfield, from above

Land off Bardfield Road, Finchingfield which may have been used for small-scale agriculture in the late-medieval period - Credit: Google Earth

Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient trackway in Finchingfield.

Researchers from Cotswold Archaeology and housing developer Hill Residential say that their discovery could provide a "valuable insight" into villagers' lives hundreds of years ago.

They said the find points to a small-scale late-medieval farm sited just off Bardfield Road.

An ancient trackway unearthed in Finchingfield, with visible cart ruts cutting through the dirt

An ancient track has been unearthed in Finchingfield, with visible cart ruts cutting through the dirt - Credit: Cotswold Archaeology

They carried out the dig ahead of a planned housing project for up to 50 new homes.

Richard Mortimer, of Cotswold Archaeology, said: "The trackway and ditches in the south-eastern corner of the field were an expected part of the discoveries as they can be seen on Google Earth imagery.

"They were therefore targeted by the evaluation trenches.

"Nothing else of particular interest has been found across the remainder of the field."

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Mr Mortimer said that tracks and pits can be found towards the edge of most East Anglian villages.

In a joint statement, Mr Mortimer and Chloe Houston of Hill Residential said the dig could be expanded to better understand the fields.

Hill Residential intends to host an open day on the site in the new year, though no date has yet been set, so that the team can talk about their findings with the community and school pupils.

They are liaising with Essex County Council's archaeologist on the find.

Hill Residential asked Cotswold Archaeology to carry out the dig as part of its planning obligations.

Braintree District Council originally denied Hill Residential outline planning permission to prepare the ground for the proposed houses.

Residents and the parish council had raised fears that 50 homes on land south of the village could damage tourism and the spider-web pattern of nearby fields.

The developer appealed the decision with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The ministry ruled in the developer's favour, and the land can now be prepared for development.

Braintree District Council is now reviewing a more detailed planning application. This is for layout, scale, appearance and landscaping. If approved, it will allow building to start.

The application reference 21/03222/REM is online: https://publicaccess.braintree.gov.uk/