Glimpses of medieval Birmingham
A medieval oven was found in Sutton Coldfield town centre during a dig before an office on Coleshill Street near Holy Trinity church was extended. It is oval, about 1.2 metres across, and was constructed in a hollow by building up a clay wall into a dome on a framework of twigs. The clay was hardened by firing. The oven had collapsed but still contained charred rye grains. Pottery fragments show that the oven dates to the 13th or 14th centuries. The oven would have been in the back yard of a house. The house would have been timber, so there was always a fire risk and it made a lot of sense to have the oven outside. The oven could have been used for baking bread, drying grain or malting grain to make ale.
Primrose Hill Farm in Meadowsweet Road is a 15th century timber framed building consisting of a hall with a cross-wing running at right angles to its east end. A small excavation to the east of the hall revealed a stone sill wall constructed of large sandstone blocks, which could have been the base for a former timber cross-wing to the house matching that at the other end, resulting in an H plan.
At Maxwell Avenue in Handsworth a small excavation investigated a medieval moat shown on 18th century maps. Although the moat itself was not found, pieces of sandstone reused in a more recent structure are from a low wall under a timber building, to keep the timbers off the ground and prevent rotting. There were also a few pieces of medieval pottery.
The present Pool Hall, in Sutton Coldfield near the city boundary and in the medieval hamlet of Over Green, is a 19th century building, but Pool Hall was first mentioned in the 17th century. It may originally have been surrounded by a moat, like Hermitage Farm nearby. Excavations in advance of construction of an extension revealed that the present building overlay a medieval building, whose remains consisted of the dressed sandstone footing for a timber-framed wall. A ditch, presumably a field or property boundary, ran up to the wall footing. Pottery found on the site ranges in date from the 12th to 19th centuries. The medieval pottery was made in the Coventry and Nuneaton areas.
Medieval Acocks Green
Trenches were dug in a car park on Warwick Road to investigate a medieval moated site as part of an upcoming planning application. Part of the moat is indicated by an L-shaped pond on 19th century maps, but nothing is now visible above ground.
The trenches revealed a pebble surface which may have been a yard or path, a pit and part of the moat, which had a channel leading into it to keep it water-filled.