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Odell in the Dark Ages

215 High Street May 2008
215 High Street May 2008

The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] details all Dark Age finds and sites known in the county. It is now available on-line as part of the Heritage Gateway website. The term Dark Ages for the period between the Romans leaving Britain and the Norman Conquest (410-1066) has now fallen out of favour with historians and archaeologists who refer to it as the Early Medieval Period. However, the phrase Dark Ages still means more to those outside this range of experts.

The Romano-British farmstead site, now under the lake in Harrold-Odell Country Park [HER 543] yielded an area of wicker-lined Anglo-Saxon wells. Perhaps the most graphic indication of Anglo-Saxon presence in Odell was found at 215 High Street. This was a socketed spearhead, made of iron, with a leaf-shaped blade and mineralised remains of the wooden shaft inside the socket. The spearhead was dated to the 6th or 7th centuries [HER 15995].

Two other Dark Age sites have been identified in Odell from slag and charcoal deposits, both waste products in the iron working process. One of these lies south-east of Odell Plantation [HER 846] where both charcoal and slag patches are over ten metres across. The other site [HER 847] lies very close by and simply contains a charcoal patch.