Interim Report 2014 – Excavations

2014 Objectives Dr. Gareth Beale, Centre for Digital Heritage, University of York Nicole Beale, Department of Archaeology, University of York Excavations were conducted on the western edge of the New House on the flat area adjacent to the postern gate of the Old House. Excavations were carried out with three major goals: To clarify the […]

2014 Objectives

Dr. Gareth Beale, Centre for Digital Heritage, University of York
Nicole Beale, Department of Archaeology, University of York

Excavations were conducted on the western edge of the New House on the flat area adjacent to the postern gate of the Old House. Excavations were carried out with three major goals:

  • To clarify the internal and external layout of the ‘New House’ and better understand its physical connection to other buildings on site.
  • To discover more about the processes employed in the destruction of the new house following the siege.
  • To assess the character and extent of previous excavations in this area..

Previous excavations of the research area were conducted in the late 19th or early 20th centuries to expose the remains of the New House to the northeast of the ringwork. These excavations were part of the larger programme of work undertaken by Lord Bolton. Little was known about the extent or purpose of these excavations in this area prior to re-excavation during the 2014 season.

Excavations 2014

The 2014 team was made up of staff and students from the Univeristies of York and Southampton, members of the Basingstoke Archaeological and Historical Society, and staff and volunteers from Basing House and Hampshire Cultural Trust. Local residents also took part in the excavations. Excavation took place between 21st July and 14th August and an area 15m x 6m was opened over an area of the eastern range of the New House (Area 1 – see figure 1.1 below). The trench was situated in order to expose a wall which would have been external but facing into an enclosed open space. This area was subsequently extended in order to investigate features identified in the original trench (Area 2 – see figure 1.1 below).

Turf removal immediately revealed the upper surface of the wall which ran northwest to southeast through the centre of the trench. Deposits to the west of the wall (what would have been the interior of the building) revealed that this area had been excavated and partially backfilled as part of the original programme of excavations. Topsoil in these areas had a depth of approximately 10cm. Immediately beneath the topsoil compacted layers of debris were exposed (primarily broken brick, mortar and tile) within these deposits were occasional patches of clay-mortar which may be evidence of a surviving floor surface. Once excavated these areas formed a level surface from which the surviving courses of brick protruded by ca12cm. The excavations also revealed a wall running perpendicular to the large wall to the southeast into the interior of the building. This wall is marked on the plan from the Bolton excavations.

Figure 1.1. The areas of the trench.

Partial removal of the debris layers revealed that they were ca. 30cm thick and overlaid natural clay into which the foundation of the large NW-SE wall had been cut. Any surviving pre or post demolition deposits in this area had been removed as part of the original 19th/20th Century excavations.

The area to the east of the major wall (see figure 1.2 below) revealed a far more complex picture. The northern part of this area (in the northeastern corner of the trench) contained an area of complex stratigraphy which was largely, if not completely undisturbed during the Bolton excavations. Excavation of this area revealed a series of demolition layers containing a wide variety of building materials including broken window glass and window cames, tile brick and mortar. Materials were often found in concentrations possibly indicating the systematic processing/sorting of materials on site.   These demolition deposits were around 40cm thick in total and overlaid a compacted debris surface not unlike the one which was uncovered on the other side of the wall. No evidence of surviving floor surfaces was uncovered in this area of the trench. The central and eastern parts of the trench revealed two brick structures extending from the major wall into what is likely to have been the courtyard. The most obvious of these comprised a room of around 3mx3m internal dimensions. These walls were not bonded into the brickwork of the major wall and so it would seem to be a later addition. Excavation of the interior space revealed traces of a rammed clay surface which may have been an original floor or preparation surface for a tiled floor.

Figure 1.2. The 2014 trench.

The eastern part of the trench revealed a brick lined channel of ca 15cm width. The channel was cut through the surviving upper surface of the major wall indicating that it was either punched through the wall while the wall was standing or that the channel was constructed after the demolition of the major wall. It runs in the direction of the large circular sump and an inspection of the brick lining of the sump appears to reveal and outflow pipe. At the eastern extent of the excavation the channel was overlaid by the revetment feature described below. Its eastern extent was marked by a moulded arch shaped brick covering the channel. It is not clear whether these bricks would have covered the channel for its entire length. If this is the case they are likely to have been removed during the Bolton excavations.

The eastern part of the trench exposed a substantial cut running from north to south. The cut has partially removed the brickwork from the wall of the square room which runs parallel to the major wall. The eastern extent of the cut is marked by a modern revetment made up of concrete and demolition material (including dressed stone and contiguous sections of bonded brickwork). It seems likely that these features have something to do with the Bolton excavations and/or relatively modern landscaping events but this cannot be confirmed without further investigation taking place.

Read more of the 2014 interim report

Read about the recording methodology for 2014

Read about the finds from 2014

Read about the geophysical survey results from 2014


Filed under: 2014 Excavation, Interim Report 2014

Interim Report 2014 – Excavations

2014 Objectives Dr. Gareth Beale, Centre for Digital Heritage, University of York Nicole Beale, Department of Archaeology, University of York Excavations were conducted on the western edge of the New House on the flat area adjacent to the postern gate of the Old House. Excavations were carried out with three major goals: To clarify the […]

2014 Objectives

Dr. Gareth Beale, Centre for Digital Heritage, University of York
Nicole Beale, Department of Archaeology, University of York

Excavations were conducted on the western edge of the New House on the flat area adjacent to the postern gate of the Old House. Excavations were carried out with three major goals:

  • To clarify the internal and external layout of the ‘New House’ and better understand its physical connection to other buildings on site.
  • To discover more about the processes employed in the destruction of the new house following the siege.
  • To assess the character and extent of previous excavations in this area..

Previous excavations of the research area were conducted in the late 19th or early 20th centuries to expose the remains of the New House to the northeast of the ringwork. These excavations were part of the larger programme of work undertaken by Lord Bolton. Little was known about the extent or purpose of these excavations in this area prior to re-excavation during the 2014 season.

Excavations 2014

The 2014 team was made up of staff and students from the Univeristies of York and Southampton, members of the Basingstoke Archaeological and Historical Society, and staff and volunteers from Basing House and Hampshire Cultural Trust. Local residents also took part in the excavations. Excavation took place between 21st July and 14th August and an area 15m x 6m was opened over an area of the eastern range of the New House (Area 1 – see figure 1.1 below). The trench was situated in order to expose a wall which would have been external but facing into an enclosed open space. This area was subsequently extended in order to investigate features identified in the original trench (Area 2 – see figure 1.1 below).

Turf removal immediately revealed the upper surface of the wall which ran northwest to southeast through the centre of the trench. Deposits to the west of the wall (what would have been the interior of the building) revealed that this area had been excavated and partially backfilled as part of the original programme of excavations. Topsoil in these areas had a depth of approximately 10cm. Immediately beneath the topsoil compacted layers of debris were exposed (primarily broken brick, mortar and tile) within these deposits were occasional patches of clay-mortar which may be evidence of a surviving floor surface. Once excavated these areas formed a level surface from which the surviving courses of brick protruded by ca12cm. The excavations also revealed a wall running perpendicular to the large wall to the southeast into the interior of the building. This wall is marked on the plan from the Bolton excavations.

Figure 1.1. The areas of the trench.

Partial removal of the debris layers revealed that they were ca. 30cm thick and overlaid natural clay into which the foundation of the large NW-SE wall had been cut. Any surviving pre or post demolition deposits in this area had been removed as part of the original 19th/20th Century excavations.

The area to the east of the major wall (see figure 1.2 below) revealed a far more complex picture. The northern part of this area (in the northeastern corner of the trench) contained an area of complex stratigraphy which was largely, if not completely undisturbed during the Bolton excavations. Excavation of this area revealed a series of demolition layers containing a wide variety of building materials including broken window glass and window cames, tile brick and mortar. Materials were often found in concentrations possibly indicating the systematic processing/sorting of materials on site.   These demolition deposits were around 40cm thick in total and overlaid a compacted debris surface not unlike the one which was uncovered on the other side of the wall. No evidence of surviving floor surfaces was uncovered in this area of the trench. The central and eastern parts of the trench revealed two brick structures extending from the major wall into what is likely to have been the courtyard. The most obvious of these comprised a room of around 3mx3m internal dimensions. These walls were not bonded into the brickwork of the major wall and so it would seem to be a later addition. Excavation of the interior space revealed traces of a rammed clay surface which may have been an original floor or preparation surface for a tiled floor.

Figure 1.2. The 2014 trench.

The eastern part of the trench revealed a brick lined channel of ca 15cm width. The channel was cut through the surviving upper surface of the major wall indicating that it was either punched through the wall while the wall was standing or that the channel was constructed after the demolition of the major wall. It runs in the direction of the large circular sump and an inspection of the brick lining of the sump appears to reveal and outflow pipe. At the eastern extent of the excavation the channel was overlaid by the revetment feature described below. Its eastern extent was marked by a moulded arch shaped brick covering the channel. It is not clear whether these bricks would have covered the channel for its entire length. If this is the case they are likely to have been removed during the Bolton excavations.

The eastern part of the trench exposed a substantial cut running from north to south. The cut has partially removed the brickwork from the wall of the square room which runs parallel to the major wall. The eastern extent of the cut is marked by a modern revetment made up of concrete and demolition material (including dressed stone and contiguous sections of bonded brickwork). It seems likely that these features have something to do with the Bolton excavations and/or relatively modern landscaping events but this cannot be confirmed without further investigation taking place.

Read more of the 2014 interim report

Read about the recording methodology for 2014

Read about the finds from 2014

Read about the geophysical survey results from 2014


Filed under: 2014 Excavation, Interim Report 2014

Interim Report 2014 – Recording Methodology

Recording Methodology The excavation was recorded by staff and supervised students using University of Southampton context sheets. This archive was supplemented by a dig diary kept by staff. A conventional digital photographic record of the site was recorded with all contexts and finds photographed in plan. Plan and elevation drawings were made onsite where appropriate. […]

Recording Methodology

The excavation was recorded by staff and supervised students using University of Southampton context sheets. This archive was supplemented by a dig diary kept by staff. A conventional digital photographic record of the site was recorded with all contexts and finds photographed in plan. Plan and elevation drawings were made onsite where appropriate.

Specific features were documented in high resolution 3D using photogrammetry. This technique was also used to document the entire excavated area at the end of the excavation period. These data have been added to the survey data, digitised drawings and digital photographic data in order to produce a comprehensive 3D record of the excavation.

Hampshire Cultural Trust worked with Jude Jones on the conservation and storage of the small finds from this season. The University of Southampton has temporary care of the data, and will ensure that this is accessible for 2015 season. The archive will be deposited with the Archaeological Data Service in due course.

Read more of the 2014 interim report

Read about the excavation for 2014

Read about the finds from 2014

Read about the geophysical survey results from 2014


Filed under: 2014 Excavation, Interim Report 2014, Recording Methodology

Interim Report 2014 – Recording Methodology

Recording Methodology The excavation was recorded by staff and supervised students using University of Southampton context sheets. This archive was supplemented by a dig diary kept by staff. A conventional digital photographic record of the site was recorded with all contexts and finds photographed in plan. Plan and elevation drawings were made onsite where appropriate. […]

Recording Methodology

The excavation was recorded by staff and supervised students using University of Southampton context sheets. This archive was supplemented by a dig diary kept by staff. A conventional digital photographic record of the site was recorded with all contexts and finds photographed in plan. Plan and elevation drawings were made onsite where appropriate.

Specific features were documented in high resolution 3D using photogrammetry. This technique was also used to document the entire excavated area at the end of the excavation period. These data have been added to the survey data, digitised drawings and digital photographic data in order to produce a comprehensive 3D record of the excavation.

Hampshire Cultural Trust worked with Jude Jones on the conservation and storage of the small finds from this season. The University of Southampton has temporary care of the data, and will ensure that this is accessible for 2015 season. The archive will be deposited with the Archaeological Data Service in due course.

Read more of the 2014 interim report

Read about the excavation for 2014

Read about the finds from 2014

Read about the geophysical survey results from 2014


Filed under: 2014 Excavation, Interim Report 2014, Recording Methodology

Interim Report 2014 – Geophysical Survey on Basingstoke Common

Geophysical Survey on Basingstoke Common Dominic Barker, Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton Introduction Staff and students carried out a geophysical survey of an area on Basing Common as part of the Basing House Project. This survey sought to expand and build on results of surveys carried out by Sam Wilson of the University of […]

Geophysical Survey on Basingstoke Common

Dominic Barker, Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton

Introduction

Staff and students carried out a geophysical survey of an area on Basing Common as part of the Basing House Project. This survey sought to expand and build on results of surveys carried out by Sam Wilson of the University of Winchester in 2010 and Clare Allen of the University of Southampton in 2013 as part of their postgraduate dissertations. It also sought to try and locate features associated with the Parliamentary siege of Basing House. Documentary sources and a drawing of the house from the Common indicated possible structures such as siege trenches, redoubts and enclosed camps. It was also hoped that other archaeological features of any date might be located and would help to elucidate the archaeological background of the site.

Method

A 30 metre grid was established over the area to be surveyed using a Leica Viva global positioning system using SmartNet correction data. The squares when the surveyed using a Bartington Instruments Grad 601 dual sensor fluxgate gradiometer . Measurements were taken at 0.25m intervals on 0.5m traverses, with data collected in zig-zag fashion. The survey data were downloaded and processed using ArchaeoSurveyor software.

Results

A georeferenced plot of the data (including areas done in 2013) can be seen in Figure 1and in interpretation in Figure 2. There are clearly drains running west to east across the area but also a series of positive linear features, probably ditches and pits which might relate to Civil War activity. The dipolar features at the south end of the area may be pits related to industrial activity. The metal detecting picked up pieces of scrap lead in this area. Any interpretation would need to be confirmed by excavation.

Figure 1 Processed magnetometer data. Click on the image to open a larger version.

Figure 2 Magnetometer data interpretation. Click on the image to view a larger version.

Read more of the 2014 interim report

Read about the excavation for 2014

Read about the recording methodology from 2014

Read about the finds from 2014


Filed under: 2014 Excavation, Geophysical Survey

Interim Report 2014 – Finds

Finds Dr. Jude Jones, Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton Introduction The summer season of 2014 concentrated on the reinvestigation of Lord Bolton’s late 19th-early 20th century excavations carried out in order to find the footprint of the New House built by William Paulet, Marquess of Winchester in the third quarter of the 16th century. […]

Finds

Dr. Jude Jones, Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton

Introduction

The summer season of 2014 concentrated on the reinvestigation of Lord Bolton’s late 19th-early 20th century excavations carried out in order to find the footprint of the New House built by William Paulet, Marquess of Winchester in the third quarter of the 16th century. A single trench (Trench 2) was opened on the NW range of the house’s outer courtyard and the wall foundations were uncovered together with the intervening domestic or service spaces. The trench extended to the inner side of the house and accordingly a limited amount of courtyard was explored too which revealed an embanked revetment made of brick and masonry pieces lining a ditch which may have been constructed as a service conduit by the later 20th century investigators of Paulet’s well and well house which lies immediately to the south.

Topsoil

The topsoil (Context 53) produced a mixture of finds which ranged from 20th century coins, shotgun cartridges and plastic ice cream lids to small fragments of 17th-19th century clay pipes, ceramics of various periods, Civil War musket and pistol balls, square-shanked nails and a great deal of 16th-17th century building rubble including some small, worked and diagnostic masonry fragments possibly part of the back-filling processes carried out by Lord Bolton’s workmen. These included the carved palmate capital of a central limestone window mullion which showed signs of having once had dark paint applied to the sculpted grooves (SF2). Its face, discoloured pink, was also plainly fire damaged which contrasted strongly with its inner unworked surface showing that it was an external fitting and the fire which took place immediately after the house fell in 1645 had only scorched the fragment’s outer side. Another item – a piece of limestone string course had a shallow cross incised on it, most probably a mason’s mark (SF3), while of two small corner fragments (SF46 Nos 1905/1908) the second seems to have been subjected to a rough graffiti mark. This appears to be an oval shape with an internal cross whose lower member bisects a circle. This suggests an orb and might therefore be hazarded to be a form of Royalist symbol but more work is needed on this object – an RTI image will undoubtedly shed light on its true shape. As both pieces are probably fragments of window sills or jambs a graffiti explanation is not unlikely.

Ceramics

Small ceramic sherds (totalling 120) were discovered spread fairly evenly across all contexts, including the topsoil. Few of them were particularly exceptional or gave evidence of much high status ownership with the exception of a fragment from the face roundel of the bearded male (traditionally thought to be Cardinal Bellarmino) whose mask is usually affixed to the front of Bellarmine vessels, also known as Bartmann jugs. These valued and popular jugs and flagons which originated in the Rhineland were imported widely during the 16th and 17th centuries and are constructed from salt-glazed stoneware which gives them a very characteristic stippled patina and colour (usually blues, greys and browns). This single sherd (SF 82), a fragment of beard with a blue and brown salt glaze shows that the mask was extremely large and suggests this was a sizeable and expensive jug or flagon. In all 12 salt-glazed stoneware sherds have been recorded though the other vessels which they represent are smaller and less prestigious. Three other very highly glazed sherds (SF 83 and Bag 147 No 1996) – all from the same artefact – indicate another early modern high status jug or tankard. This was fired both internally and externally with a dark brown glaze so highly polished it resembles lusterware. It has sgraffito decoration of combed incisions in chevron and band shapes.

The early modern ceramic material is generally homogenous and ranges from a large number of partially glazed domestic and cooking wares (51 in total) in the usual range of coloured slip glazes – browns, yellows and greens, to similar vessels (14 in total) with overall slip glazes in the same spectrum of colours. They come from a range of low-mid-status domestic crockery and cooking ware commonly found across the British Isles up until the 19th century.

These sherds were generally small suggesting that the site had been extensively harvested for unbroken ceramics when the post-siege New House was being dismantled and recycled after 1645 and that Lord Bolton’s workers had also managed to collect up the larger, more diagnostic sherds. They were also relatively unabraded which confirms current ideas that (with the above mentioned exceptions) this particular area was not extensively interfered with in later centuries. However, the ceramic collection also contains modern fragments from the topsoil, a single sherd of 16th century green-speckled Surrey Whiteware, 16 prehistoric sherds (most of which are from Iron Age flint tempered cooking vessel sherds similar to ones found in 2013), 5 coarseware Roman sherds and a possible 6 medieval sherds. One can infer from this that the IA/Roman settlement evidence examined in 2013 had spread across the site over time.

Metalwork

Most of the metalwork from Trench 2 was recorded as small finds and appears under that category in the data-base. The vast majority of it consisted of iron fragments or fittings which had escaped the recycling process because of their insignificance. X ray work kindly carried out at Chilcomb House for us by Amanda Sutherland and Claire Woodhead of Hampshire Cultural Trust was inconclusive and the functions of much of this ironwork remains unknown. RTI images taken by Claire and Nicole Beale are as yet to be published.

In total 57 iron nail fragments and one bronze nail were discovered, most of these being square-shanked, implying that they had been hand-forged and were not produced by a recent industrial process. A small early modern buckle (SF 72) was also found, suitable for use on a narrow belt, on leather harness or as a fitting for leather pouches or containers. A misshapen tin fragment was conjectured to be a Civil War bandolier bottle cap (SF 32).

More securely, other Civil War metal objects were represented by the lead musket and pistol shot found in the topsoil and elsewhere. Of these three musket balls were spherical and unspent, one was also unspent and retained its sprue, one was a pistol ball which was partly dented suggesting it had glanced off its target and the last was spent, having hit a hard surface and splattered.

Earlier Tudor metal finds were present in the form of window cames or the lead double-sided frames which hold diamond-shaped glass panes in place in 16th-17th century windows (for a further exploration of cames-making see my blog). There were 6 sets of these, most being bent into recyclable clumps which had evidently been overlooked during the post-siege metal reprocessing. It is most likely that these were from the original Tudor windows as they are more redolent of medieval window cames than later 17th-18th century ones. They were found across a series of contexts (1 x Con 53, 1 x Con 55, 1 x Con 54, 1 x Con 57 and 2 x Con 58).

Window Glass    

Again, listed under small finds, a substantial number of small fragments of thin, high status window glass were discovered. A possible theory which I am presently considering is that the 1640s recycling activities were performed in discrete areas. Window glass, of course, would have been a vastly desirable commodity to recycle and may well have been collected up more safely and securely in a single spot rather than over the entire site. Unlike their cames which have a greater spread it is immediately apparent that the glass fragments are highly localised. Their contexts and frequency are as follows: Con 53 x 8, Con 54 x 78, Con 56 x 2, Con 57 x 4, Con 69 x 7, Con 77 x 3. This clearly shows that Context 54 has produced the vast majority of Tudor glass window pane fragments and suggests this was either a dump for broken panes (though these surely would also have been collected) or a possible recycling locality for glass where numbers of the smaller pieces have escaped.

Shell and bones

A moderate quantity of oyster shell was retrieved. As this had to be imported into Basing from the coast its carriage must have rendered it an expensive shell fish. However, oyster shell is also an important ingredient in the making of lime mortar so oysters have a dual usefulness.

The vast majority of bone consists of split sherds and fragments of the usual domestic eating animals – sheep, pork, fowl but less beef, all as yet unexamined osteologically. A bone report needs to be produced which examines the condition of this material as an initial brief analysis of it suggests the sherds are unusually small and have been cleft to extract the marrow bone. Evidence of a siege diet?

Masonry

Both the Old House and the New were brick-built structures dressed with white limestone, some of it from Caen, all of it of good quality. The masonry fragments which turn up are usually worked at least on one surface, if not more. The three fragments discussed above which were found in the topsoil are perhaps the most diagnostic of the building’s masonry composition and certainly suggest it was painted on the outside, a regular way of emphasising the magnificence of the aristocracy’s great houses both in England and Europe. Thirteen other masonry pieces were found in the topsoil and in Contexts 54 (x 2), 56 (x 5) and 62 (x 4) consisting of worked architectural fragments which may have come from window and door dressings. Different stone types include one of an as yet unidentified material, rich in sea shell which is evidently a fraction of a window sill or jamb and which has a notch at one end for a transom bar and a groove to hold the leaded window (photograph attached). A masonry fragment of clunch (hard, quarried chalk) has been worked into a curved shape and suggests that less expensive stone may have been used in the guest or service ranges. A few fragments of slate indicate that at least part of the New House’s roofs were slated though these may alternatively be slivers of slate flooring. In all 11 worked flint flakes were found, confirming the occupational longevity of this part of Old Basing.

Ceramic Building Material (CBM)

Last year in our reinvestigations of the 1963-4 Aldermaston Archaeological Society’s excavations on the far side of the Old House we trawled up an immense amount of 16-17th century brick, roof and floor tile and other forms of CBM. Unfortunately as much of this material was 1960s backfilling it proved extremely hard to make either quantitative or qualitative analyses as it was impossible to track any of it back to its original location. This year the quantities were even greater and as a result our strategy was to retain both typical and unusual examples and make qualitative deductions about what appeared. The roof tiles had treenail pegholes and a nearly complete one gave the following typical dimensions:

  • Trench 2 Con 54 No 2096
  • 5 x 15.5 x 2 cms (11 and a half inches x 6 inches x three quarters of an inch).

As there were so many broken roof tiles found it was obvious that most of the roof of this part of the outer courtyard range was tiled in this way, pegged into the rafters and fixed together with an internal mortar skim. Floor tiles made of plain baked red clay were also plentiful measuring an average of 17.75 x 17.75 x 2cms (ie c 7’’ square). As these contrasted with other much larger, glazed floor tiles it is likely that, if they came from this part of the House, the area was likely to have been (especially towards the lower southern end) part of a service range.

Finds of the more high status glazed tiles were rarer but these were considerably heavier being c 4-5 cms deep. These had a rough dark green slip glaze and two were discovered (SFs 62 and 84). SF 62’s surface was fairly unworn as it had an unmortared side suggesting it was an edging floor tile. SF 84 had a glazed surface which showed considerable wear as if from the passage of many feet. It is possible therefore that the grander corridors and entry ways used frequently by members of the household had this type of more solid, decorative flooring.

As expected, there were a huge number of Tudor bricks, some of which showed signs of warping and vitrification indicating their proximity to an episode of intense heat such as the post-siege fire. This seems highly likely. However, in addition, on studying the wall foundations it became evident that a small room annex had been added, projecting into the inner courtyard, after the building’s construction since its brick foundations abutted the Tudor walls rather than being keyed in. The foundations of these walls contained a number of reused bricks, some of which were highly vitrified. Our colleague, Dr Yvonne Marshall put forward the suggestion that during the early part of the 17th century when the Paulets, having financially over-extended themselves, were trying to reduce the scale of Basing House, other areas had been dismantled and recycled. These bricks may therefore have been gleaned from decommissioned hearths and fireplaces and were accordingly suitable only for foundations. It would be interesting to try to test this theory as there is as yet no hard physical evidence of such an episode apart from documentary material.

There have been few signs of terracotta objects or decorative artefacts this year, except for three shaped decorative fragments of floor tiles which suggested a form of parquetry or opus sectile terracotta pavement (a garden feature?). In addition 2 small but beautifully crafted red terracotta bricks were found which might have come from a specially created wall or building such that lining a private garden or pavilion. Other CBM material includes an elaborately rubbed brick fragment. This appears to stand either upright or sideways in a solid bed of mortar with a narrow profile topped with a inverted V shape and an external coved side under this which has been plastered and then painted (in what is now a rose pink pigment). This intriguing find has puzzled a number of experts and the consensus is that it may be part of a decorative wall parapet either attached to one of the buildings or as part of a fine garden enclosure. Certainly it demonstrates the grandeur of conception and the brightly coloured design of the two Great Houses. Lastly a number of fragments of wall plaster have been gathered and we have also taken some mortar samples.

Conclusion

Although this year there have been few finds of an unusual or spectacular kind, the assemblage is beginning to disclose a number of elements which are helping us to form an idea of the New House’s external and internal feature during its life. They are also allowing us to start analysing the methodology of its Civil War destruction and the means whereby its materials were recycled. While it is impossible to draw any definite conclusions in this respect, nevertheless 2015’s excavations will benefit enormously from the progress made in 2014.

In addition an analysis of the X-ray and Reflectance Transformation Imaging sessions done on a selection of the finds will also assist us to assess the treatment of the data, especially in regard to the metalwork and the masonry with its possible graffiti or mason’s marks and painted decoration.

In order to explore the possibility of locational recycling it may be as well to adopt a quantitative finds methodology in 2015 in order to understand the distribution, not only of window glass but also of the whole range of building materials across the courtyard as we expand our investigations.

Read more of the 2014 interim report

Read about the excavation for 2014

Read about the recording methodology from 2014

Read about the geophysical survey results from 2014


Filed under: 2014 Excavation, Finds, Interim Report 2014, Jude Jones

Student Research: Recording Church Graffiti

Vicky Man is currently an undergraduate Archaeology student. She dug at Basing House in 2013, and is now coming into her third year at the University of Southampton. Vicky has been working on her major project since the beginning of the summer and spent the field season this year with us at Basing House collecting […]

Vicky Man is currently an undergraduate Archaeology student. She dug at Basing House in 2013, and is now coming into her third year at the University of Southampton. Vicky has been working on her major project since the beginning of the summer and spent the field season this year with us at Basing House collecting data for her research and working with staff and volunteers to think about how to tackle her fascinating topic.

Vicky has written a blog post introducing her research. The Basing House team have been recording small finds from the 2014 season using the technique that Vicky outlines below. Last year, in fact we used RTI to help with the interpretation of the Roman coins that we found (see this great blog post by Phoebe).  This year, we are using the technique to record a selection of objects, and we are hoping the technique will answer specific questions. Look out for future blog posts on these findings.

We will also write a blog post soon describing this technique to you. Because RTI uses open source software it is a low cost option for recording similar artefacts, with the only expense being a digital SLR camera. In the meantime, you can check the Re-Reading the British Memorial Project. This is a project directed by Gareth and me; we train special interest community groups to use RTI to record church memorials and so much of the guidance for the technique is available through the project website.

We can’t wait to see some of the results. Rest assured, we will be asking Vicky to write a follow-up blog post on her findings later in the year!

Thank-you to Vicky for this excellent blog post!

Recording Church Graffiti

by Vicky Man

Introduction

It was always going to be a daunting process, finding a suitable dissertation topic for my third and final undergraduate year. The fact that my time at university had flown past was astonishing enough, let alone the fact that I had to find something of interest to do a dissertation on! It was lucky then, a couple of things caught my attention, during my time at Basing House 2013.

First, it was an introduction to RTI (which will be talked about more), a digital form of recording used in archaeology, that I didn’t even know existed prior to this dig! Second, it was a visit to St Mary’s Church (incidentally down the road from the Basing House site) on a rainy day.

I knew I wanted to use RTI, so it naturally led me to use St Mary’s Church as a case study. But what would I be recording? After a couple of visits to the church, it was apparent that graffiti was scattered all over the church interior. Therefore, I decided to investigate the use of RTI on church graffiti present there.

What is RTI? And graffiti…?

RTI stands for ‘Reflectance Transformation Imaging’, a computational photographic technique that records the surface, holds the potential to uncover details that is hard to see by the naked eye. In order to form the final RTI image, a series of images are used. The photos are taken from a fixed point. What differs in each photo is where the light source is directed from; in this case, a camera flash is used. This form of RTI is called Highlight RTI. The flash is systematically moved around the object to form an imaginary ‘dome’ shape. As a result, each photo will vary in highlights and shadows that will show in the final photo.

Graffiti is often described negatively nowadays; however, what sets graffiti found today apart from graffiti found in the past, is not only the artistic style, but also the meaning behind them. There is of course similarity perhaps in the human need to be remembered, therefore we inscribe ourselves in pieces such as literature in hope that we will be remember once we are long gone. However, what makes graffiti interesting in a church setting is because of the time and effort it must have taken to inscribe onto the hard walls.

The set-up for a Highlight RTI. Vicky is holding the lightsource, which is triggered remotely in time with the camera. The reflective sphere captures each light highlight so that the software can patch together all of the photographs in an interactive file.

Example Graffiti

A tiny snapshot of some of the graffiti from St. Mary’s Church.

The Process!

Before getting to the actual recording, I practiced the technique by recording a few artefacts (thanks to the lovely Jude for providing a few artefacts to record!). There were a few technical hitches, getting used to the equipment, but I got there in the end, successfully recording all the material I needed for my dissertation.

Nicole and Vicky recording in St. Mary’s Church. Photo by Juliette Bijoux.

Vicky working on recording some of the harder to get to graffiti in St. Mary’s Church.

Final words…

How can we tell it is even graffiti and not damage? When was it made? What is the meaning behind this symbol? These are just the few questions that arise. RTI is a great technique to use as part of my investigation into graffiti at the church. Now what’s left is answering why.

A massive thank-you to Nicole, Gareth, Yvonne, Jude, Chris, Peter, Phoebe and Rev. Alec Battey for kindly supporting me in my dissertation work.

 Vicky Man

 


Filed under: 2014 Excavation, Conservation, Data Processing, Finds, History, Images, Student Reporter, Student Research Post, Vicky Man Tagged: aerial photographs, apotropaic, artefacts, camera, church, computational photography, esoteric, graffiti, image, interpretation, marks, memorials, Old Basing, OuRTI, petroglyphs, re-reading the british memorial, reading, recording, reflectance transformation imaging, rti, st. mary's church, symbol, walls

Trench In-filling

On Friday 12th September 2014, we got up super early and drove out to Basing House to await the arrival of the digger to help with the covering of the Basing House Project’s 2014 field season trench. We couldn’t resist a quick snap in the trench before it was covered. Seven hours, approximately one hundred […]

On Friday 12th September 2014, we got up super early and drove out to Basing House to await the arrival of the digger to help with the covering of the Basing House Project’s 2014 field season trench.

We couldn’t resist a quick snap in the trench before it was covered.

From left to right: Nicole, Jude, Chris and Gareth wave goodbye to the Basing House Project 2014 season trench.

Seven hours, approximately one hundred ant bites, two hundred nettle stings, four packs of biscuits, and some back-breaking turf carrying later, the trench had been filled from the spoil heap and had been covered using the turf that had been removed two months earlier.

We had a lot of fun on Friday, but there was also some sadness too, as there always is at the end of a field season.

As you can see from the video, we were kept occupied as we had a lot to do!

However, the excitement of the Basing House Project does not end here. There are still lots of things for us to do, and we will keep you informed with our activities on this blog. This week we are creating 3D models of some of our more fascinating artefacts, and we will share these online as soon as they are ready. The team are planning to share the digitised archive of the excavation, and we’ll publicise this as it is made available on this blog, including small finds photographs and plans from the trench.

Some of the fantastic students who were with us this year have written blog posts about their research projects, and these will appear on this blog over the next few weeks.

Finally, we would like to extend a heartfelt thank-you to Barry, Yvonne and Jess who spent the day on site with us last week carrying turf and stamping down soil. We could not have done it without you!

We would also like to thank James of Ableman Plant Hire Ltd who came in his very cool digger and covered the trench in super quick time.

From left to right: Jude, Yvonne, Nicole, Barry, Jess, Gareth and Chris. Triumphant, after a hard day’s work!

Thank-you!


Filed under: 2014 Excavation, Backfilling Tagged: digger, infilling, trench, turf

Battlefield Archaeology of Basingstoke Common

This year there were lots of different research projects being carried out on site whilst we were excavating in the New House. Many of these were being carried out by postgraduate students. One of these students has written a blog post about his research. The Trustees of Basingstoke Common kindly granted us permission to survey […]

This year there were lots of different research projects being carried out on site whilst we were excavating in the New House. Many of these were being carried out by postgraduate students. One of these students has written a blog post about his research.

The Trustees of Basingstoke Common kindly granted us permission to survey the Common using various techniques. Sam, Richard and Colin visited us at Basing House to support the survey of the Common, led by Dom Barker, University of Southampton. Dom has been directing survey work on the Common using magnetometers to try and locate features associated with the parliamentary siege works, thought to have been located in this area. Initial results are promising and will hopefully be clarified in the future by possible excavation. Sam, Richard and Colin were using metal detectors to see if they could identify patterns from 17th century find spots.

We were delighted to have along with us this season some locally based metal detectorists who were fantastic and took the time to talk to some of our students about how their equipment works and explained the kinds of signifiers that are important when carrying out a survey. Some of the volunteering detectors looked over our spoil heap for us over the course of the excavation, which brought up some interesting metal finds!

The team would like to say a big thank-you to both the local metal detectorists who came to help us with the survey, and also to the team from the University of Huddersfield. We can’t wait to see the results of the survey!

The Battlefield Archaeology of Basingstoke Common

Working in conjunction with the staff and students of the University of Southampton, Hampshire Museums Service, the University of York and the Basingstoke Archaeological and Historical Society as part of the Basing House Project 2014 season, myself and two colleagues from the University of Huddersfield undertook a systematic metal detector survey of land surrounding Basing House. We were searching for evidence of the fighting during the Civil War. The methodology used has previously been successfully utilised on numerous British and European battlefields. Pilot work in 2009 had recovered a number of 17th century military artefacts including lead musket and artillery shot and powder flask fittings. The recent survey returned to this site and vastly expanded it.

Walking the Common, Photo by Richard Leese

It is well documented in contemporary accounts that some form of Parliamentarian siege work existed on the Common, the location of which Dom’s team were gathering evidence for as part of the magnetometry survey this summer. Numerous, often unrecorded skirmishes took place in what was effectively the ‘no mans land’ between Parliamentarian siege lines and Royalist defences around Basing House. The defenders may have sallied forth to slight the besiegers’ works and disable their cannon, or the attackers may have sent an infantry force to probe for a weakness in the House’s defence. Any such engagements will leave a unique artefactual signature on the battlefield, most commonly in the form of lead shot and items which may have been lost or broken in combat. General military activity in the area will also result in similar finds of items which have been dropped, lost or discarded.

Richard and Sam working together to systematically cover an area. Photo by Richard Leese.

Richard, with Basingstoke on the horizon. Photo by Richard Leese.

The metal detector survey that was carried out involves the systematic recovery of artefacts through archaeological means, and their accurate plotting with GPS so that distributions and patterns can start to be analysed. Such plots enable a unique view into an event which may have only lasted a few minutes.

Colin finds an artefact. Photo by Richard Leese.

The finds and digital data from the survey are still to be examined in detail but already it is clear that the survey was a resounding success. The recovery of large numbers of lead shot, of calibres ranging from pistol to small artillery, perhaps indicates less damage by amateur detecting than previously thought. Such a discovery is certainly encouraging and is a strong testament to the fierceness of the fighting that took place around the House. Large numbers of the shot show evidence for having been fired in anger, perhaps taking life or limb.

Flags mark the survey location. Photo by Richard Leese.

The flags and tiny surveyors give an idea of the scale of the work done this summer! Photo by Richard Leese.

With the recent and rather moving commemorations of the start of the First World War, is it not only right that we remember the men who fought and died for their cause in the 17th century? The passage of time has been greater but bravery in the face of your enemy calls for great courage in any historical period. The quiet fields and towns we now call home were once bloody battlefields and the final resting place of many hundreds of brave men. The sites of their final moments, that battlefield archaeology has the ability to re-discover should ultimately be recorded, remembered and protected.

University of Southampton student, Richard, learning how to use the equipment. Photo by Richard Leese.

Sam Wilson

PhD Candidate, University of Huddersfield
Battlefield Archaeologist, Cotswold Archaeology


Filed under: 2014 Excavation, Finds, Geophysical Survey, Sam Wilson, Student Research Post Tagged: artefacts, artillery shot, basingstoke common, battlefield, battlefield archaeology, civil war, defenses, fighting, gps, lead, magnetometry, metal detectoring, military, mortar, musket balls, pistol, powder, powder flask, siege, survey, University of Huddersfield, world war I

Basing House Project Joins Pinterest

We’re now on Pinterest! Some of the team are big pinners, and have been busy setting up a Basing House Project Pinterest page. Our intention is to collect pins about all things Basing House related, as inspiration for team members. As a starter, here is our first board, Tudor Objects, which pulls together objects from […]

We’re now on Pinterest! Some of the team are big pinners, and have been busy setting up a Basing House Project Pinterest page. Our intention is to collect pins about all things Basing House related, as inspiration for team members.

As a starter, here is our first board, Tudor Objects, which pulls together objects from Hampshire that are the kinds of things that a Tudor visitor to Basing House might have been familiar with.

These objects come from lots of different online collections, including those cared for by locally based organisations such as the Hampshire Museums Collections, Winchester Museums, Portsmouth Museums, the Southampton City Council Archaeology Collections Online. There are also some Hampshire objects that are looked after by national organisations, such as the National Maritime Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the British Museum. We have also included some objects held in the record of the excellent Portable Antiquities Scheme online database, which gives access to objects recorded by the scheme, many of which have been found by metal detectorists. Do take a look at these collections, as there are lots more objects online at their websites that are not included in this board.

A big thanks to all of these organisations for sharing the images of these objects so that we have been able to collect them together online in Pinterest. We think that it is very important to make images of objects available online to increase the reach of these artefacts. We’re planning to share the photographs of our small finds online in the Autumn. We’ll probably give them a dedicated Pinterest board as well!

Follow Basing House’s board Tudor Objects on Pinterest.

http://www.pinterest.com/basinghouse/tudor-objects/


Filed under: 2014 Excavation, Finds, Images Tagged: artefacts, collections, images, objects, photographs, pins, pinterest, tudor