Excavations in Ewell
The earliest recorded ‘excavation’ in Ewell was reported by Hugh Welch Diamond and printed in Archaeologia in 1847 with further reports in the Journal of the British Archaeological Association (3 p326, 1848) and the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries (1st series 1 pp218–9, 1847). Workmen digging for chalk discovered a series of pits varying in depth from 12 to 37 feet and 2 feet 2 inches to 4 feet in diameter, filled with rubbish from the Romano-British period. Finds included large animal bones, Samian ware of various patterns including one complete vessel and more fragments, some with potter’s marks. Several vessels of dark coloured ware were recorded including one ‘of perfect Roman form’ composed of lead glazed material of bright green with stripes of white or yellow laid on it. Mr. Diamond also reports that Sir Georg Glyn’s father had a large quantity of Roman coins found in the immediate neighbourhood and Sir George himself had obtained six Roman coins from workmen on adjoining farms. Earlier reports on Roman Ewell appeared in the Gentleman’s Magazine in 1838 and 1841 with ‘Roman coins and human bones found in abundance’. A very large quantity of human bones were discovered on a farm adjoining the pits but the owner carefully levelled the mound raised over them and the land was ploughed over.
In 1861 Roman finds in the chalkpit (near Staneway House) were reported in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries (2nd series 1 pp309–11), a Roman sling stone in 1864 (J. of the British Archaeological Association 20 p75) and in 1866 Romano-British pottery and coins were found whilst digging the foundations of Staneway House, with two further pits containing quantities of pottery fragments, coins etc. including several complete vessels of Samian ware. The Archaeological Journal of 1869 contains a passing reference to the pits and again in 1873. In 1890 the Archaeological Journal records an inscribed pelvis (inscription ‘LVGVDV’ transcribed as LUGUDUNI FACTUS) resembling others found at Reculver, London and Maidstone, and quoting a further reference in Coll. Ant. 1 p149. In 1886 sharks’ teeth were found and in 1889 a well section in the grounds of Chesterfield House (adjoining the Queen Adelaide) contained oyster beds at a depth of 332½ feet dated as 70 million years ago when Ewell was believed to have been some 100 fathoms below the sea. Fossil sea urchins have been found in the chalk downs around Ewell.
There are many more references to finds from the Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age), Iron Age, Romano-British and Saxon periods reported in various journals and we hope to have a reference list available shortly, but the major excavations in Ewell were in 1934 at Ewell House (the site of the Saxon cemetery) reported in the Surrey Archaeological Collections 43 by Capt. A.W.G. Lowther, Ewell Council School, West Street (Prof. Sheppard Frere, SAC 48), Purberry Shot (A.W.G. Lowther, SAC 50), 7 High Street (N.H. Nail and M. Morris, NEAS 1963), Bourne Hall (N.H. Nail, NEAS 1962–64), King William (NEAS 1967–70), Ewell Churchyard (Frank Pemberton, NEAS 1970) and The Grove (NEAS 1971). Summaries of reports relating to the Mesolithic Period and the Iron Age have been circulated with an earlier newsletter (1969).