Fence made of animal bones among artefacts uncovered at Rainham Hall archaeological dig

11:11 28 August 2013

A volunteer sorting through findings from the Rainham Hall dig

A volunteer sorting through findings from the Rainham Hall dig


An archaeological dig at Rainham Hall has revealed clues about the building’s history dating back to the early 18th century.

The plant borders made from sheep bones found in the gardenThe plant borders made from sheep bones found in the garden

The dig saw a team of 24 volunteers join archaeologists to explore the Grade II* listed Georgian National Trust house earlier this month.

Among their most unusual finds was a plant border made from animal bones in the garden.

Local historian Keith Langridge, who was one of the volunteers, speculated that this may be an indication of some 18th century thriftiness.

Original owner Captain John Harle had many staff onsite because his personal and commercial exploits were conducted in close quarters, as was common at the time. Mr Langridge suggested the bones, believed to be from sheep and cattle, could have been leftovers of meat cooked in large quantities to sustain the workers.

The Rainham Hall dig teamThe Rainham Hall dig team

However National Trust archaeologist Gary Marshall, one of the co-ordinators of the dig, had an alternative theory. He said there would likely have been abattoirs in the vicinity around this time, which could have saved up the bones for the house.

Mr Marshall said he had never seen bones used in this way before.

The team was hoping to find trace of an outbuilding that was demolished in the 1920s. Rainham Hall programme manager Emily Gillespie, who was also co-ordinating the dig, said fragmentary evidence of what was probably one of its side walls was uncovered.

Also found during the dig, which took place over the weekend of August 17 and 18, were pieces of ceramic and glass. A near-complete brass oil lamp wick holder was unearthed as well.

Mr Langridge said the dig had been relatively rewarding, and added: “Sometimes it’s the smallest pieces that are the most interesting.”

Mr Marshall said: “The dig certainly exceeded expectations as we found much more evidence likely of the original garden than we had anticipated, including a gravel path running through it.”

The dig was part of an 18-month National Lottery-funded conservation and renovation project that will see future excavations focus more on the garden.


Latest News Stories

Chancellor George Osborne outlined the government's spending plans in his Autumn Statement and Spending Review (Pic: PA/Yui Mok)

The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has announced his budget proposal for the next five years – here are the main things to know.

Picture: Google maps

A man has been arrested os suspicion of stabbing a 16-year-old boy near Havering College.

The London Fire Brigade has put forward proposals to axe 13 fire engines - including one from Stratford - to save £11million

‘All the conversation now is about social media, removing something as important as this is a false economy’ say Tories

Ingrebourne Valley Ltd has lodged an appeal against the council's refusal to the planning application to merge Hornchurch Country Park with Ingrebourne Hill by dumping waste

Controversial plans to dump waste and double the size of Rainham’s Ingrebourne Hill will be considered again next month.

80 years old Arthur Boulton, ex marine, competative smimmer and powerlifter.

As the evenings get colder and darker making it to the gym can be a battle for even the most strong-willed.

Yesterday, 16:53
Picture: Google maps

A 16-year-old boy has been taken to an east London hospital after “suffering a stab wound” police have said.

Yesterday, 14:08
Phyllis Woodham - taken in 1942

“While there are people like you there will always be an England.”

Most read news

News from your area


Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.


Tesco - Every little helps

Would you like to have the opportunity to win a huge £2,500 to spend at Tesco? Well with this amazing prize you can do exactly that! MyOffers are giving you the chance to get your hands on £2,500 to spend on anything you desire may it be free weekly groceries for the foreseeable future, a new TV, home decoration or even a new sofa!

You could get your hands on the new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge!

Here’s your chance to win one of the most feature-packed smartphones on the planet, from tech giants Samsung, The Samsung S6 Edge!

Digital Edition

Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder