The Saxon Town
Before the castle was built this area formed a large part of the flourishing Saxon town. The Domesday Book tells us that ninety-eight properties were swept away with the construction of the castle. Twenty-
six such pre-Conquest timber buildings were found at Castle Mall, some with sunken floors. They probably originally served as workshops, storerooms and houses, though some were very small and were perhaps used only for sleeping and shelter in bad weather. The workshops may have produced bone and horn combs, metal objects and textiles. There was even evidence that one house may have been reused by the Normans.
six cemeteries underlie the castle earthworks, which must indicate that this area of the Late Saxon town had a similar dense population of churches as did the medieval town. One graveyard beneath the later south bailey rampart had over a hundred burials dating from the late tenth century until the construction of the castle. Unusually there were more women than men; the bones of two individuals suggested that they may have been weavers or shoemakers for their bones showed they had both carried out the same activity repeat-
of the outer ward. Radiocarbon dates indicate that the northern area of the graveyard was already out of use by the time the Normans arrived. The presence of leprosy is intriguing as leper houses and their associated cemeteries are thought to have been a Norman introduction.
The only Late Saxon church was found in an earlier excavation in 1979 in advance of the construction of the Anglia Television building which lies, not in the main southern
Before the Castle was built, this was the centre of a busy Saxon town. Here are two of the Late Saxon buildings.
Opposite page above. View of the excavations from the roof of the edly. Another cemetery gave evidence for a high proportion of lepers. This is the ceme-
bailey, but in the additional bailey to the north-east. Here a timber church was castle keep. Note in the foreground the bridge tery St John de Berstrete (the church still recorded, similar to that still surviving at over the motte.
survives as St John the Baptist, Timberhill),
part of which was cut off by the construction
Greensted in Essex, surrounded by a ceme-
tery with well over a hundred individuals.
Although this appeared to be
Victorian it proved to be Norman underneath.
Left. Excavations in progress.
Right. Plan of the castle earth works showing the site of the excavations. The main bailey was to the south,
the lesser bailey to the north-east. Note the great barbican ditch constructed across the south bailey following the panic of 1216.