When Stephanie and Stephen Fry began to clear some of their land near Stoke Trister in Somerset, they made an unexpected discovery - a series of substantial ruins. After a bit of local research and a poke about in the bushes the Fry's realised that they had the remains of an industrial mill on their land. Sounds like one for our very own Professor Aston.
Very little was known about Buck Mill aside from a reference in Domesday and documents referring to a much later mill from only 150 years ago. Mick's feeling was that the Domesday mill must surely be underneath the ruins discovered by the Fry's and that the site offered us the opportunity to explore the lives of ordinary people engaged in a practice vital to the lives of the whole community.
With Phil keen to get cracking trench one went in over the wheel pit. This would give us the opportunity to establish the size of the mill wheel and get a sense of the layout of the mill buildings. Working through the rubble Phil soon found large pieces of metal framework - could they be from a mill wheel? As the trench expanded Phil was surprised to discover a complete section of the wheel - surprisingly made of metal. Clearly we were dealing with a much later mill than expected. Finds confirmed this, with 19th century pottery and even 20th century glass turning up. The team hoped we might eventually reach the Domesday mill if we dug a little deeper. Of course this being Time Team it wasn't quite as a simple as that... To everyone's surprise the trench soon revealed an Anglo Saxon bone comb... While most of the team scratched their heads, Helen quickly determined that the comb wasn't quite what it appeared to be.
Meanwhile, Stewart had been busy walking the surrounding landscape in an attempt to plot the water management system necessary to power the mill discovering something we hadn't expected - a second leat. These artificial channels, designed to control water, should lead directly to a mill. Could this second leat lead to the Domesday Mill Mick had been so interested in? To test the theory the geophys team got to work.
Meanwhile back at the main site Phil had started pushing our timeline back to the 17th century uncovering evidence that the mill itself had been remodeled several times. Helens work on the existing documentary evidence from this time identified the family who owned and ran the mill, providing a vital service for the local community.
Micks search for the Domesday mill wasn't proving quite as successful. Nothing on the geophys plots and nothing but clean clay in the trenches... According to the ever positive Professor Aston these early Mills would have been constructed of wood and may have left no trace.
Phils work at the main mill site ended up giving us the clearest picture of life at the site despite proving quite a complicated sequence of inter-cutting walls and structures from different periods. The team ended up identifying over 40 different building phases and discovered more about Buck Mill than had ever been known. Despite the earliest periods in the sites history eluding Mick is still convinced that the Domesday Mill is there... somewhere.