The original entrance found

 

Site plan showing orientation of the pinfold walls

Site plan showing orientation of the pinfold walls

Following mechanical excavation to remove the bulk of the infill material hand digging was necessary to expose the foundations of the original walls.  The work was undertaken by a team of volunteers from the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Practical Projects Volunteer Group over a period of two days, under supervision of Andrew Brown Jackson, the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership professional dry stone wall builder.

 

After mechanical excavation - photograph taken from the NE SE corner.

After mechanical excavation – photograph taken from the NE SE corner.

Hand digging the foundations

Hand digging the foundations

In addition to exposing the foundations, hand digging revealed loose original stone, including 18″coping stones dislodged mainly from the Black Lane wall, probably through the action of tipping rubbish into the pinfold.   No evidence of larger coping stones  or flat top slabs to span the 2ft wide front main road wall  was found, begging the question whether or not they were robbed out when the pinfold fell into disuse.  All recovered original stone was saved and set aside ready for the re-build.  No evidence of a cobbled or hard core floor was found nor evidence of a cattle wear depression in the centre.

The Black Lane SE wall was found to be double skinned and not a single skin retaining wall as expected.  Evidence from the structure shows it was a continuation of the original field boundary wall, carrying through from the private garden. When the pinfold was built the  NE and SW walls were butted up to that pre-existing field boundary wall of Black Lane.  The surface of the Black Lane carriageway was probably at a much lower level when the wall was built, and may well have significantly increased in height relative to the wall, over decades as additional layers of re-surfacing material were added.

The exposed foundations on the main road NW side revealed evidence of the original entrance to the pinfold, in the form of of two  cheek ends, one on either side of a nine feet gap where the original entrance gate(s) or hurdle(s) was positioned.  At a later time the gap had been infilled with a wall of narrower depth than the original cheek ends, maintaining the original wall line when viewed from the main road, but inset when viewed from inside the pinfold.   The cheek end foundations of the original gap can be seen in the following photograph.  No evidence of gate posts were found in the gap foundations.  The cheek ends are to be rebuilt  and consideration given to filling the gap with a hardwood gate/hurdle to show where the original entrance used to be.

The original entrance gap in filled at a later date by walling of less depth.

The original entrance gap in filled at a later date by walling of less depth.

A large flat stone with a worked socket on its flat surface was found just above foundation level, used as a corner stone in the NW NE corner.  The original use of the socketed stone is not known.

Stone with worked socket, used as a corner stone just above foundation level at the NW NE corner.

Flat Stone with worked socket, used as a corner stone just above foundation level at the NW NE corner.