Archaelogical dig and repair works under way at historic Valence House moat
PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 October 2020
An archaeological dig is taking place at the medieval moat at Valence House, as part of the first stage of wider plans for the area.
The historic moat in Valence Park, also known as the fishing lake, is thought to have been dug as long ago as the 1200s.
Since it was closed due to health and safety concerns and serious erosion, the council has been developing plans for bank restoration works to protect the sensitive site, as well as wider work to improve access to the museum, archives and moated enclosure iin Becontree Avenue, Dagenham.
The unique heritage asset is one of the few remaining moats in London to still have water in it.
Temporary repairs are under way before permanent works go on site during next summer and autumn.
Public consultation on the wider plans for Valence House and the park will take place early next year.
In the meantime, the council is undertaking in-depth research into the history of the site, including its ancient trees, the historic mud silts and the tenants of the farmed estate.
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Archaeologists from Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), in collaboration with Ground Engineering, are on site to undertake surveys.
MOLA project manager Marit Leenstra said: “It is wonderful to have the opportunity to investigate the Valence House medieval moat and put it back into its historical context.
“The site is a great asset to the community and I hope that the work we are doing will allow the public to become even more engaged with this fascinating piece of local history.”
A geoarchaeological transect survey and a test pit along the northern arm will help determine the original depth and width of the moat - and perhaps reveal secrets hidden in the silts or mud.
If found, historic silts and other organic material can be used to create a timeline of activity about how the shape of the water body changed over time.
They can also provide information about the plants that were grown on site and the food that was eaten by the tenants of the house.
The water enclosure is expected to partially reopen in a few months and be fully accessible by the end of next year.
Regular updates on the archaeological work will be posted on the Valence House social media pages.
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