T HE archaeology of medieval Southampton, in its prime a community of wealthy merchants trading regularly overseas, is beset by problems peculiarly its own. To be sure, Southampton citizens built themselves sturdy stone houses on the water-front, many of which remain readily identifiable today. But they furnished those houses with objects of great rarity and obscure origin, seeming to care little for such native products as were the commonplace of household existence elsewhere. In consequence, what is familiar in other parts of the country, may be relatively unknown in Southampton ; and what is common in Southampton, over the nation as a whole is rare.
In the summer of 1966 the excavations were confined to two major sites, each of which was expected to yield evidence of successive phases of merchant housing in the medieval town. Both sites were located in the south-west corner of the walled town, between Bugle Street on the east and Cuckoo Lane on the west. The town defences in this quarter had not been completed before the middle years of the fourteenth century, and it was a reasonable supposition that the houses on the lower site, behind the town wall, had fallen into decay on the closing of their access to the sea. As for the upper site, an important part of which occupied the angle between Bugle Street and Westgate Street, it was known that the earls of Southampton had built there in the sixteenth century a fine town residence. Bugle Hall
Of the two sites, the upper was to prove the less rewarding. Consistent reoccupation of identical house-plots through the centuries had resulted in the loss of much of the earlier pattern of settlement. Bugle Hall, the earl's residence, the supposed siting of which was confirmed, had been supplied on
Excavating the deep cellar
PHOTOGRAPH BY FRANK WILES
construction with massive foundations and deep cellars, cutting through the levels of the houses it replaced. During the course of the last century, terraces of cottages had been strung across the area, and although the foundations of such buildings were shallow, their drains and other services frequently dislodged, or distorted, the earlier features below. Nevertheless, it remained possible to distinguish a minimum of three separate phases of occupation falling within our period. Of these, the first may be assigned to the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the second to a date crossing the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and the third to the sixteenth century and to the substitution of the mansion and grounds of Bugle Hall for the yards and warehousing of the merchants.
The lower site proved more rewarding since it was abandoned in the seventeenth century and has remained open ground ever since. The first building on the site was a fine stone built house constructed in the second half of the twelfth century. The big discovery, however, was the cellar that was built in the courtyard against the south wall of the house some time during the course of the following century. This was a massive stone lined structure, 10 feet square and