Ancient wooden posts in the Creek

There are many pieces of ancient wood projecting out of the mud in middle of the Creek, on the north side about 100yds east of the remains of the wreck of barge Snowdrop...

There has been much speculation in the past as to the origins of these posts:

o  Fishing weirs or Kettles used to catch shoals fish See... fishing in the Estuary

o  An earlier wooden abatement or seawall that took a different path to the present walls. See... Seawall construction

o  Part of a tide mill or water mill that has been referred to as being near Goldhanger in the past. See... Watermill at Goldhanger

o  Part of an enclosure that made the creek into a harbour (there are also many stones lying in this area)

o  A pier used by the Roman

o  A jetty used by the village fishing fleet in the 18th &19th centuries. See... fishing in the Estuary

Today it seems that one, or both, of the two later alternatives above are the most likely, as more evidence has come to light in recent years.

 

 

 

 

In 1910 a report of excavation work on Redhills by Francis Reader, undertaken in Bounds Farm at the edge of the Creek included a map which showed a Pile Foundation in the middle of the Creek..

 

It was also referred to in the text of the report...

This square arrangement of posts is unlikely to have been a fishing weir.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goldhanger's notable character and amateur historian Crawshay Frost investigated the posts in the 1940s and this article appeared in a local newspaper in 1947. He was clearly convinced he had found the remains of a jetty and large ancient boat.

We know that Frost employed many young men to build a barrage to drain the water and clear the mud from around the piles to access the boat remains, so he is likely to have disturbered and maybe destroyed the rectangular form described in the 1910 report.

A piece of that Ship's keel is still in the village.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This amazing photograph and caption also appeared in 1947 in the London based magazine The Sphere. Crawshay Frost probably took the photograph.

 

One can only wonder if these substantial posts are still there under the mud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1970 this letter was published in the Essex Countryside magazine. Little is known about Mr Morrish other than that he wrote descriptions of 200 churches in the Diocese of Chelmsford in the 1940s, some of which were printed in that same magazine, so he was an Essex historian of some note. However, it also refers to 1947, the year in which Mr Frost declared the find.

 

In 1991 samples of wood from the Creek were radiocarbon dated by the Isotope Measurements Laboratory at Harwell and found to be of 13th century origin. [Radiocarbon, Vol 33, No. 1, 1991, P 87-113]

 

extracts from Thesis submitted to the University of Nottingham in July 2013...

Transformations of Identity and Society in Essex, c.AD 400-1066

by Alexander Mirrington

available at...  

eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/Transformations_of_Identity_and_Society_in_Essex_c.AD_400-1066_Vol.I.pdf

This study examines the archaeological reflections of group identity and socioeconomic networks in the region of Essex and London in the Anglo-Saxon period, between c.400 and 1066. Given its location in the south-east of England, Essex was a key zone of socio-political interaction during the early medieval period.

...In the later 9th/10th -century, the pottery record may also testify to the emergence of a trading centre at Maldon ... The town would have attracted trade up the Blackwater Estuary, and probably facilitated great onward movement on radiating inland routeways - perhaps Roman roads emanating from Roman settlement in the Maldon area. ... As a royal mint in 925, it is clear that Maldon rapidly grew in importance following the West Saxon reconquest. The products of its mint have not been found in Maldon, but are relatively common in Scandinavia.

...Stephen Rippon* has perhaps provided the greatest individual contribution our understanding of the later Saxon Essex...Rippon‟s work on coastal Essex has proposed the existence of sites of exchange at Tilbury, Goldhanger Creek, and Canvey Island.

...Rippon has also suggested Goldhanger Creek as an AngloSaxon trading place on the Essex coast... excavations in the area have found an early Saxon settlement and cemetery, a series of middle Saxon fish weirs, and perhaps contemporary settlements at Chigborough Farm, Rook Hall, and Slough House Farm. These settlements may have functioned together as part of a single estate, with Rook Hall engaged in specialist metalworking for external clients... There is certainly much more evidence in the Goldhanger area of productive activity, datable to the Anglo-Saxon period than in most other excavated rural areas of Essex...

* Professor of Landscape Archaeology, Exeter University

A recent study of past local highways and byways also indicates that the village may once have been on a significant north-south Roman road that would have connected Colchester to Osea Island.

Today the posts can be seen on satellite images in the middle of the Creek between the Sailing Club ramp and the Shoe...

From this accumulated evidence it is reasonable to assume that it was once a substantial wooden jetty in the Creek, perhaps of Roman origin. It would have been repaired and rebuilt many time, and likely to have also been used by the village fishing fleet between the 13th and 19th centuries. Today we can only envisage what that jetty would have been like in those times...

artist's impression of the ancient jetty

 

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