Dowsing Archaeological Features;
An empirical study at Cressing Temple, Witham, Essex.
22. Comparative Studies
1.0 The chapel, tower and cellar excavations. (BVAS IV/ CT29 T3/ CT8 T1). (Figure. 30)
30. Isometric drawing of the cellar, its drains and the chapel footings. Because these were already known in detail and the cellar often seen as a parch mark it was not seen as necessary to record its position on a dowsing plot.
31. Close up of the chapel area showing the correct disposition of the features but poor location. Better on-site surveying and larger scale mapping would have avoided this error in the earlier plots. (Colin Peal).
1.1. The chapel (Figure. 31) has been dowsed as being apsidal with a doorway in the south section and traces of internal partitions. The BVAS excavations showed the chapel to be rectangular with the east wall cutting seven graves. (Figure. 32a).
32a. Mediaeval phase plan of the chapel area. Note the absence of features where the apsidal (rounded) end of the chapel may have been.
This was explained by Hope as being due to a Saxon timber chapel being replaced by the stone one. However the east wall footing was composed largely of Tudor bricks which was again explained by Hope as being due to 17th century improvements.
Due to the total lack of Saxon evidence these explanations were never given credence by Robey and others and led to the site being reopened. A total absence of features where the footing for the apsidal end should lie pointed to the presence of an earlier groundfast timber Templar apse as an adjunct to the stone building perhaps being a predecessor too good to totally remove until architectural fashion dictated.
The internal partitions can be seen delineated by the positions of the inhumations within the chapel itself. These must have been areas open to passage as it is extremely unusual for burials to be made beneath the pews and other church furniture. Therefore where there are no burials (and they are indeed cramped together) there must have been immovable structures.
32b. Tudor phase plan of the chapel area. The brick built sluice box had four major culverts running from it. Other surface drains may have also dropped into it. Another culvert passes through the garden gate but its course is not shown on this excavation.
1.2. The drains that ring the chapel are clearly plotted. The position of the sluice box (Figure. 32b) with its four vents is accurate but the nature of the drains themselves is confused. This tallies closely with the observations made in the excavations (BVAS IV/ CT29 T3) which states that the south drain on the west side of the sluice box (Figures. 33a) was abandoned and bricked off. The drain coming in from the north for which there is no obvious vent in the sluice box does however exist and is known to pass through the garden door (CT8 T1).
1.3. The cellar and stair-tower base was deliberately omitted from these plots as their location was known exactly from crop and parch marks. (Peal.C, pers comm).
1.4. The apparent error in the placement of the chapel (Figure. 30) is due to poor on-site measuring compounded by the intolerant scale of 1:500. Colin is keen to point out he was a civil engineer not a surveyor.
Barry Hillman-Crouch. MSt PA, Dip FA, BSc, HND. Written 1999 Published on the web June 2005.