Old Sarum Update

For the last few weeks a fair amount of preparation has been undertaken by various members of staff at the University of Southampton for a press release on the fieldwork conducted at Old Sarum (see previous blog post http://kdstrutt.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/in-the-castle-called-seresberi-old-sarum-and-a-new-survey-of-the-inner-and-outer-baileys/). Peter … Continue reading

For the last few weeks a fair amount of preparation has been undertaken by various members of staff at the University of Southampton for a press release on the fieldwork conducted at Old Sarum (see previous blog post http://kdstrutt.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/in-the-castle-called-seresberi-old-sarum-and-a-new-survey-of-the-inner-and-outer-baileys/). Peter Franklin and colleagues at the press office have worked hard to produce the finished story, and today things finally came together with a bit of a whirlwind of media attention. The finds of the project to date illustrate the potential of non-intrusive archaeological methodologies to elucidate on the archaeology of a particular site or landscape, without harming the material culture and with some strong underlying scientific concepts on which to base  some degree of interpretation and narrative.

Greyscale image of the magnetometry from the south of the outer bailey (top) and the interpretation plot for the data overlaid on LiDAR for the area (© LiDAR data Environment Agency copyright and/or database right 2014. All rights reserved.)

Greyscale image of the magnetometry from the south of the outer bailey (top) and the interpretation plot for the data overlaid on LiDAR for the area (© LiDAR data Environment Agency copyright and/or database right 2014. All rights reserved.)

The step from geophysical survey data to coherent archaeological narrative is a big one, and one of the reasons that our interpretations to date err on the side of caution. What is apparent from the results is the urban plan of a substantial medieval city, and an array of different forms of structure and associated features in the outer bailey at Old Sarum. Hopefully the results and their wider dissemination at this stage will help to generate interest in the site, the methodology used, and the wider applications of these approaches to archaeological research.

To date the results have been reported in a number of sources. Online the sources include:

BBC News   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-30300837

The Independent   http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/archaeology/archaeologists-find-vast-medieval-palace-buried-under-prehistoric-fortress-at-old-sarum-9898759.html

The Telegraph   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/archaeology/11269753/Medieval-city-uncovered-by-archaeologists-and-not-a-spade-in-sight.html

More will hopefully follow tomorrow. Above all else the results show the pertinence of student involvement in research-led teaching, from developing an understanding of the archaeological and scientific theory for the work, to dealing with practical aspects of survey and undertaking fieldwork, to being involved in the processing and interpretation of data. The results at Old Sarum are testament to the peerless hard work and dedication of the students on the project, as well as the staff involved in their supervision.

Notes:

For images or for interviews with Kris Strutt, please contact Peter Franklin, Media Relations, University of Southampton. Tel: 023 8059 5457 email: franklin@southampton.ac.uk

For more information about the Archaeological Prospection Service of Southampton (APSS) visit:http://www.southampton.ac.uk/archaeology/research/groups/archaeological_prospection_service_southampton.page

 

For more about the Old Sarum and Stratford-Sub-Castle Archaeological Survey Project visit: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/archaeology/research/projects/old_sarum_and_stratford_sub_castle.page

 

For more information about Archaeology at Southampton visit: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/archaeology/index.page

For more information about English Heritage visit: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/

Through world-leading research and enterprise activities, the University of Southampton connects with businesses to create real-world solutions to global issues. Through its educational offering, it works with partners around the world to offer relevant, flexible education, which trains students for jobs not even thought of. This connectivity is what sets Southampton apart from the rest; we make connections and change the world. http://www.southampton.ac.uk/

http://www.southampton.ac.uk/weareconnected

 


The 2014 Small Finds go for Conservation

Last week, we dropped off the 2014 season small finds to the Hampshire County Council Museums Service headquarters to be conserved by their excellent team of conservators. The staff at Museums HQ were fantastic, taking time out of their busy morning schedules to show some of the students the conservation laboratories and the archaeology collection […]

Last week, we dropped off the 2014 season small finds to the Hampshire County Council Museums Service headquarters to be conserved by their excellent team of conservators. The staff at Museums HQ were fantastic, taking time out of their busy morning schedules to show some of the students the conservation laboratories and the archaeology collection stores.

Tilly was so inspired by her visit to Museums HQ that she has written a blog post describing the trip.

Thank-you to Tilly for this post, and thank-you also to Amanda Sutherland and Claire Woodhead of the Conservation team and David Allen, the Keeper of Archaeology, for finding time to show us their places of work.

The 2014 Small Finds go for Conservation

It was a day like any other in the fun van, when all of a sudden our fabulous (the most correct/appropriate use of the word, if ever I saw one) leader, Nicole, after saving the life of a dear friend (a.k.a. my glasses) announced a minor detour to the wondrous, secret Headquarters of Hampshire County Council Museum Service, at Chilcomb House. The secretive HQ, disguised as a farm, held the secrets not only of conservation and archaeology stores, but also lovely people like Claire Woodhead and Dave Allen. The fun van gang (Darkaeology, Firedog, Fidgeter, Spoiler and Vicks) first encountered Claire Woodhead, a member of the conservation team, to whom we delivered our gifts of glass, metal and various other small finds (thanks Will, for ruining the surprise!). Claire was kind enough to satisfy our curiosity by showing us around her majestic conservation labs, where she carefully cleans and conserves the finds which we discover. If you have ever wondered what happens after the fun, mucky digging, then here is the place to be.

Tilly, Vicky, Nicole and Will handing over the small finds to Conservator, Claire Woodhead.

Claire showed us around her abode, with the rather classic fume cupboard (looking slightly cooler than the ones you never ended up using in Chemistry!), drying racks and various other cool things! She explained to us the transformation of conservation over the last few decades. Conservation methods have dramatically changed over time, from cleaning the living day lights out of the archaeology to now attempting to preserve the artefact by doing as little as possible to the object so as to preserve its significance. An example of this was an enamel mug from WWI, the exterior of which was clean and conserved, yet the interior had very little done to it at all in order to preserve the residues within (good call; Fosters has a new advert!). The conservation labs, not going to lie, were like a happy, comforting haven for all our lovely finds. However, despite looking like finds heaven, it is more like a finds limbo (a fab one at that), before being transferred into the archaeology stores.

Dave Allen, Keeper of Archaeology (a hell of a title/job, we know!), wearing a rather fantastic jumper, kindly showed us round one of the archaeology stores, where our beloved treasures would soon call home. It was like a fun toy store, but with less pogo sticks, but perhaps more exclamations like ‘OMG what is in this box?’. It certainly all looks like a lot of hard work, and we honestly couldn’t be more thankful or grateful of the amazing work that both Claire and Dave have done and are doing.

David Allen giving us a tour of the Archaeology Collections.

We did not peruse the entirety of the collections as, lets face it we would have been there for years, and although they would have been incredible and fun, I fear Claire and Dave might kick us out! The weapons and costumes stores were amongst those which we did not feast our eager eyes on (much to the disappointment of all, particularly young Will, whose dreams of Tudor dresses and bayonets will remain in his head, unspoiled). But needless to say, Chilcomb house is more than a Tardis, far far more. It is a gem riddled with more gems.

Live long and prosper. Let your finds live well. Thank you.

 


Filed under: 2014 Excavation, Conservation, Finds, Student Reporter, Student Trips Tagged: archaeology, archives, basingstoke, claire woodhead, collections, conservation, conservator, david allen, finds, hampshire museums service, keeper of archaeology, museum, small finds, storage, xray

The Rise of 3-D printing in Archaeology

With the announcement that Adobe, one of the world’s largest software companies, is to integrate 3-D printing support into it’s Photoshop package, it’s about time that the rise of 3-D printing was assessed, and the impact it’s having on archaeology. It’s rise has been unprecedented, but what have archaeologists done with it? Definition and background […]

With the announcement that Adobe, one of the world’s largest software companies, is to integrate 3-D printing support into it’s Photoshop package, it’s about time that the rise of 3-D printing was assessed, and the impact it’s having on archaeology. It’s rise has been unprecedented, but what have archaeologists done with it?

Definition and background

Defined as a “three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model”, a 3-D printer costs anywhere between £300-£3,000, although these are generic. A 3-D scanner for archaeologists is being developed through Kickstarter, the crowd-funding site, which can then be used to create a 3-D model, which could then be printed (see below). This shows public support for these technologies are becoming more and more popular (at the time of going to press). However, the “printed gun” incident shows that, combined with the open-source nature of the internet, thousands of people can create undetectable lethal weapons in their own home. However, this is a one-off case, and the popularity of 3-D printing is being shown with children’s drawings being turned into toys and decorations.

Grant Cox Kickstarter

The bad news

Increased 3-D compatibility opens up the door to hundreds of businesses. For archaeologists, this gives us hundreds of opportunities. For example, we could build a scale model of a landscape using accurate data, or have a 3-D printer create a model of an artefact to pass around the class. Alright, it would probably be in plastic and not metal or stone, but you get the idea. It would allow the collection to come to the classroom without having to go to the exhibit itself! This would remove the risk of damaging the artefact, and throw new light onto an artefact through sensual analysis, and you would be able to repeat this because the experiment can be done again without damaging the original. But this raises all sorts of issues; for one, does this then remove the need for museums? Of course not, but it does jeopardise the raison d’être. Museums contain so much more than just the artefacts, but if the focal point of a display can be recreated in your living room, then what is the point of seeing the real thing? Several conferences have debated this matter of recreating archaeology, and whether the real thing is worth seeing over a copy or a virtual exhibit. Finally, when you recreate something from an original, it will rely on the quality of the 3-D printer; you will never get the 3-D printer to perfectly replicate the artefact in question.

The good news

It’s not all doom and gloom for archaeology and heritage. Arch Aerial, a new company that specialises in using drones to record landscapes and sites, is using 3-D printers in an innovative way; by using 3-D printers to create prototypes of their drones, they can cut costs significantly by bringing every part of the design process into their office, rather than outsourcing to an external firm. These drones can fly into areas that other technologies simply can’t, like a rainforest, and operate far quicker too; the photographs can be combined into a photogrammetry package (such as Photoscan) to create 3-D models within 20 minutes of downloading a flight, allowing for real-time interpretation of sites, and it doesn’t stop the excavation for more than a few minutes, since the drones are so stable (albeit noisy). Contrast that with the use of helium balloons, or kites, or a camera on a stick (I’ve seen most of these being used); where the quality and quantity of the photos, the limited range of environments they can work in and the way they disrupt the site’s excavation on a budget often make aerial photography an unpopular choice for most site directors. Additionally, this makes drones affordable to archaeologists; for us, you can buy one of their kits for less than £2,500, or hire one for £1,000 for a 3 month period, to capture high-quality images of your sites, anywhere form 20-300 metres above the site. The quality of the photogrammetric models is also very similar to the more expensive Archeotech drone. Arch Aerial plan to install LIDAR units in place of the cameras; imagine the potential that would have for excavations and photogrammetric models!

Therefore, the 3-D printer is making sites more recordable than ever before, and combined with software packages, it makes for an excellent tool to help interpret the site “at the lens edge” (to murder Ian Hodder’s quote). It should be pointed out that these are not the same drones that get used by the military, although if archaeologists start using drones in this way, then we would have to comply with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Civil Aviation Authority in a new way, by having to obtain permission from the CAA for work purposes, and if we capture images of identifiable people, then the images come under the Data Protection Act. So this affordable technology comes with a small price to pay, in more ways than one.

3-D models for all archaeologists?

Related to this is the use of the internet to create, upload and share 3-D models for free, such as Sketchfab, where a number of archaeologists have already used it to upload their models of excavations and contexts. The Post Hole Journal has an article on this application. This is an area that I can only see going upwards; the sky is literally the limit in terms of how many models you want to make, and what scales should be used for the landscape approach. If you check out the models on Robert Barratt’s Sketchfab portfolio though, you will see that it is the artefacts that get the attention of the modellers, preserving the artefact in multiple mediums, rather than the landscape itself. More innovative ways of using Adobe’s package to create 3-D models will only help with the semantic element of the web, where data can be linked together in single, understandable, “one-size-fits-all” terms that transcend languages and national agendas, in line with websites like Sketchfab.

Robert Barratt2013sketchfab

A word of warning

Adobe’s package will allow customers more freedom to invest in home-grown and startup businesses, but where does this leave big companies that rely on recreating 3-D products and goods? In particular, an interesting battle is raging on the tabletop, with Games Workshop (the world’s largest tabletop wargaming company) competing with smaller firms, who are presenting a far cheaper (and arguably more high-quality) product. This has lead to lawsuits in some cases! While this is not something I foresee with archaeological firms, we should bear in mind that the government is still waking up to the legal precedents that 3-D printers will set, which will have implications for the future. While archaeology may not be affected as much by these developments, it still serves as a warning for us not to get into the same battles.

Summary

While I wouldn’t trust a 3-D printed trowel for excavations, the potential for archaeology and 3-D printers is incredible. Some of the technology is already and a lot of it is affordable or can be run from your laptop. Big businesses may still be around, but expect to see a lot more home based businesses using 3-D printers, and with that, archaeological innovations. In particular, recording archaeology is becoming a lot easier, relating 3-D printers with photogrammetric software in poetic harmony that even a few years ago would have been considered impossible, “taking off” into a world where high-quality data is accessible to all. However, some interesting issues still remain, particularly over copyright and potentially some legal battles, and we must be ahead of the game in this respect; for more information about using drones in archaeology, I recommend the Civil Aviation Authority‘s guidelines on UAV’s (unmanned aerial vehicles).

Day 11 – Finds so far – by Mike

August 3rd 2013 – Basing House Dig – Day 11 INTRODUCTION Saturday 3rd August – another day of digging for the Basing House archaeologists. There are undeniable groans, yawns and sleepy protestations at a time which most students believe should be legally outlawed for work (let alone consciousness) of any kind. Nevertheless, work was soon […]

August 3rd 2013 – Basing House Dig – Day 11

INTRODUCTION

Basing House cannon

Saturday 3rd August – another day of digging for the Basing House archaeologists. There are undeniable groans, yawns and sleepy protestations at a time which most students believe should be legally outlawed for work (let alone consciousness) of any kind. Nevertheless, work was soon underway on the site, and the once shallow, grassy pits had swallowed most of the diggers to waist height by this point in the excavation.
On today’s agenda was the further trowelling of the chalky layer in an effort to secure the 1960 trench lines, alongside the first efforts at documenting the growing trench sections and stratigraphy. The trowelling itself is now at a stage where finds are becoming increasingly common-place (especially those of the Roman variety), and the monotonous job of shovelling out the soil fill from the original 1960’s excavation (complete with rusty Carling cans and pink lipstick) is over. This influx of finds led me to Jude, the Medieval and Early Modern finds expert-:

Michael and Ian cleaning finds

Q: What is the most exciting find so far (in your opinion), and why?


A: Well there are two that stand out. Early in the dig a replica 17th Century slipware jug was found. I believe this shows both the broad extent of the discipline of archaeology and its ‘human face’ – finds such as these bring a wider cultural perspective to the site, as it indicates the continued interest in the English Civil War through different periods of modern history. This creates an interesting situation for archaeologists digging around Basing House, who often have to consider whether their finds are from the Early Modern period or from much more recent Civil War re-enactor societies.
The other significant find is a small Roman coin which managed to escape the 1960’s excavation. This is the first found on site, and when coupled with several other Roman finds on site, this strongly suggests Roman occupation. Acceleration of scientific techniques in the last few years such as Reflective Transformance Imaging (RTI) makes tiny finds such as this coin even more significant because of the improved history it gives surrounding Basing House.

Q: Is there an area of finds (or lack of) you’re disappointed with from this particular site?

Sophie and Will


A: I would have certainly liked more evidence of the original Civil War siege. Certainly the excavation of the 1960’s may have played a role in this lack of finds. It has attributed to the Basing House dig feeling like much more of a Roman and Iron Age affair, partly because previous excavators were less aware of identifying earlier archaeological finds, meaning much of it is still being found today. Already there is an abundance of Roman finds, such as locally made pottery, blank mosaic tile, Roman brick and the one coin already mentioned. However, the Civil War side of things has been unfortunately much less prolific, with only one musket ball being found in a site situated just next to Basing House. However, there is the rich ‘archaeology’ left behind by the 1960’s diggers!

Our first musket ball

Pink lipstick – help us date it!


Filed under: Day Eleven, Student Reporter, Summer Excavation Tagged: archaeology, Basing House, finds, student-reporter, undergraduate

Day 10 – The discovery of a Roman coin! – by Phoebe

The archaeology of the sections so far… The excavation has reached it’s tenth day here at Basing House, and as all the sections are hitting their respective base layers it is easy to see from looking at the section edges of the trench as well as the finds from each of the contexts we have […]

The archaeology of the sections so far…

The excavation has reached it’s tenth day here at Basing House, and as all the sections are hitting their respective base layers it is easy to see from looking at the section edges of the trench as well as the finds from each of the contexts we have removed, the changing archaeology of each soil layer and perhaps even their era of human activity…

The site so far…


1. The top of the section marks the civil war defensive bank, possibly a large layer of buried soil has since accumulated on top of the previously excavated site. This large soil layer owes to large numbers of plant roots and grasses making up the turf layer, and tends not to have many serious finds.

2. The second layer shows some of the first evidence of earlier human activity, as it is inundated with brick and burnt flint fragments across the site. The previous excavations show at least 5 barrow-loads of burnt flint were extracted from the trench possibly dating back to the Roman period, but we’re still finding it in abundance on site today! These pieces of flint we’re removing are easily smashed up and sharp and finding flakes and worked fragments is not necessarily a rarity. Apart from the flint and brick we are also finding evidence of roman pottery production from pieces of pot rim all the way from the Iron Age, as well as the odd few old roman coins! The earlier excavation recorded 4 of these coins but earlier today we did find another.

3. The next layer is more chalky and possibly a more believable base layer due to it being extensive in the pits, maybe even dating back to the Roman era also.

4. Beneath this chalky layer is what we’re currently looking to find in all the sections, the black soil layer. Elsewhere on site this base layer has been found, but another base layer we’ve been finding is more of natural orange clay.

The side of the trench!

The Post Hole…

In one of our more extensive sections we have evidence of a post hole, this would have been a wooden post surrounded by large pieces of flint, which we can now see jutting out from the trench edge from within a baulk. These large fragments of flint would have been rammed in around the wooden post to keep it upright and in place; it would have needed to be completely stable and upright. No evidence of wood seems to remain from what we’ve seen so far, which suggests that the post was probably removed from the hole rather than have rotted away.

The Post Hole…

The Roman Coin…

Earlier today a very small Roman coin was found, believed to be from the 3rd Century AD. The Romans conquered Britain in 43AD and due to later metal shortages coins did tend to get smaller, maybe explaining this coins tiny size! This however could be explained further by the diversity of mints across Britain, owing to different kinds of coins dependent on location. We’re finding this coin hard to identify due to it’s condition and limited lettering, but the popular opinion at the moment due to dates is that this coin would have held the image of Lucius, and due to it’s location at Basing House could have come from the Winchester mint.

The Roman Coin!

Close up of the Roman Coin, can you see the lettering?

A picture of the coin zoomed in…


Filed under: Day Ten, Student Reporter, Summer Excavation Tagged: archaeology, Basing House, coin, post hole, roman, roman coin, sections, student-reporter, undergraduate

Day 9 – Artists and Family Fun! – by Dan C.

Background information Today the team were continuing with the re-excavation of the work done in the 1960’s from the previous dig that took place at Basing House. The main idea of the day again was too track down the trench boundaries left behind, as well as to continue further on from where the previous excavation […]

Background information

Today the team were continuing with the re-excavation of the work done in the 1960’s from the previous dig that took place at Basing House. The main idea of the day again was too track down the trench boundaries left behind, as well as to continue further on from where the previous excavation had finished in an attempt to find any new finds or information that had not been previously discovered at the site before. The day was very cool with light rain drizzle (on and off) which meant conditions were optimum for the dig to take place. The team largely consisted of 1st and second year students from the University of Southampton but there were also various volunteers ranging from those with previous archaeological experience too those who this was the very first time they had taken part on an actual dig.

Progress on site

We made good progress in one of the corners of the trench today, almost reaching the layer under the fill which had been left from the previous 1960’s excavation. On the other side, towards the left of the trench a few people were digging out the spoil which had been left behind from the old excavation and during this process they were able to obtain a few bones which had been missed.

Interview with volunteers

At the site today I was also able to talk to two volunteer’s who were new to the site today but were friends of Dave Allen. Jane King and Gerard Cole who had both formerly had archaeology degree’s at Exeter and Winchester were told about the dig by Dave and during their free time were able to come down and give a helping hand. They seemed interested in the dig and found going back on actual excavations was a good way in which to keep in touch with people from the past as well as actually being therapeutic. They also liked the fact that the dig had been organised by the University for the archaeology students as back when they were studying there degree’s they had to organise to take part in digs which where not associated with their various universities. However, this was also the first time that both had been on excavations of old excavations as well as the first time either had used the box excavation technique which was being used on the site.

Education

Down at the education centre, today had been the busiest day of the dig so far with around 45 people taking part. The visitors participated in a number of activities including, a version of snakes and ladders (barrows and shovels), animal skull identification and a game called smashing archaeology in which the children were asked to try and put together a pot which had been smashed.

Art and Education

Art

Whilst down here I was also able to catch up with Peter and Mike who had been doing art collaboration with the ongoing dig. Today they held a public workshop in which they produced a number of mono prints and silkscreen prints. Throughout the dig Peter had been creating a series of mono prints in which he described as responses to the dig and especially representations to the soil layers and various finds as well actually drawing the physical process of digging. Finally he mentioned that in the coming day he was planning to create a mono print scene based on the theme of the diggers themselves.

Art fun


Filed under: Day Nine, Student Reporter, Summer Excavation, Winchester School of Art Tagged: archaeology, Basing House, excavation, Southampton University, Winchester

Day 7 – Quick Photo Diary

One of our excellent student reporters will be writing up an article about today’s archaeology, so I just thought I’d share some photos from my mobile phone to give you an idea of how our day went. So, a more comprehensive blog post to follow tomorrow, written by Vicky. But I thought I’d get some […]

One of our excellent student reporters will be writing up an article about today’s archaeology, so I just thought I’d share some photos from my mobile phone to give you an idea of how our day went.

Early morning site tour

Each team explained their archaeology from the day before

We all updated one another on what we’d been up to

Quick progress shot during coffee break, before the troops returned. It was actually warm enough today to all have an ice-cream.

We’re finding lots of great stuff in the in-fill of the older trenches from the 1960s. Here’s a fab example of a Carling Black Label can. Anyone able to date this?

In the afternoon we concentrated on cleaning sections. We’re starting to think about drawing them. Here are Sam, Miriam, Anne and Alice working hard to get their section cleaned.

Here, Mike and Callum are discussing the Norman Ditch (from the 1960s excavations) and whether they have located the drop down in their section – just under Dan’s feet in the centre of this image.

Tom, Eden and Gareth worked to clear an additional part of the edge of one of the trenches, to find the chalk layer, and get a section through the spoil heap from the 1960s excavation.

Briony, David and Warwick cleared a long section, and found a chalk layer running throughout.

Corinne worked alongside Christina to find the edges of the baulks in their area, and to find the layer that the archaeologists had dug to in the 1960s. They found an undisturbed chalk layer, that we had not expected.

Sam is looking for the edge of a baulk that has slumped into the trench he is in the centre of.

Dan, Dom and Lucy removed top soil. Taking of turf is hard work, but they managed to clear a good amount from the chalky layer that we’ve been finding along the top of the baulks. This will make locating the edges of the square trenches much easier.

Dan helped them to remove the masses of turf and top soil that they were removing.

Dan, taking a deserved 2 minute breather from the shovelling.

The spoil heap was getting rather large, so we delimited it with pieces of flint and Michael and Jake flattened out the ramp and the top part to make wheelbarrowing easier – as Dan is demonstrating here.

There are normally 40 of us on site. And many of us are off doing other tasks. But the trench is still a very busy place!

A shot from the top of the spoil heap, just as everyone was packing up to go home.

At the end of every day, I’m amazed at how much we all can get done in 8 hours!

A general shot of the Eastern end of the trench.

What a fantastic section! A little more clearing and it will be ready to draw.

Another great section. This time with a clear burnt flint layer running all the way along it. We’re hoping to match this up to a layer found in the next trench along.

Briony and David did a fantastic job getting the sections started in this box. Looking forward to seeing what happens here. The chalk patch is massive.

So, a more comprehensive blog post to follow tomorrow, written by Vicky. But I thought I’d get some photos on here, so that you can see what we’ve been up to!


Filed under: Archaeology of Archaeology, Day Seven, Summer Excavation Tagged: archaeology, Basing House, burnt, burnt-flint, can, chalk, deturfing, flint, history, layer, section, student-reporter, top-soil

Day 4 – Digging a ditch and playing games!

Hi I’m Alice studying BA Archaeology. During my time at Basingstoke I’m most looking forward to learn more on the field and experience Archaeology from a time period I am passionate about-with hopefully lots of Medieval or Roman finds! And of course working on a site of such magnificent history! — Day 4 – Thursday […]

Alice

Alice

Hi I’m Alice studying BA Archaeology. During my time at Basingstoke I’m most looking forward to learn more on the field and experience Archaeology from a time period I am passionate about-with hopefully lots of Medieval or Roman finds! And of course working on a site of such magnificent history!

Day 4 – Thursday 25th July

So work begins again on this cool day. No sign of sun as of yet but a perfect day for digging. Within the trench, more mataking at the edges and new areas were being worked upon. More chalk outlines were being recognised and we were now about to exploit more of the 1960s grid excavations. What appears to be an open fire in the far right hand corner of the trench has also been revealed through extensive trowelling and finds such as charcoal and burnt wood etc. And to our delight, more of the artificial tankard replica segment has been found and seems to complete the pot. Much to our luck Nicole has been in contact with the potter, ‘Spike;’ an interesting story which will be discussed later on.

Work continues on site

Survey on the common continued all day then continued total station on the trench and another team down to the Great Barn to begin building survey; a process which allows identification of door heights, measurements and training for those who were planning to use it!

Peter, Vicky and Ian begin building survey at the Great Barn

The education team set up outside the bell tent just as we did on Wednesday. Such games and activities include the Kings Game, build your own castle, picture pairs or snap, make a shield and a display of skulls and artefacts with matching and guessing games to accompany them. The wait for 11’o clock was keenly awaited for by the group with hopes of a busy day with adults, children and families. Soon enough, families visit the tent and the children instantly take to the games. First having a look inside the tent at the skulls and replicas, then trying out the pairs game and picking up the arts and crafts that are available. There is an interest from the adults about the dig and archaeology and keen enthusiasm from all. Just like yesterday, the Kings game has proved to be a hit with both children and adults! It seemed to be an equal amount of people as Wednesday but nevertheless the kids seemed to enjoy themselves, some even coming back after cancellations last year. From talking to the children, a lot of historic interests have originated from the Horrible Histories books and television programs; a different outlook on history compared to this past week but thankfully a bit less gory! One visitor kindly shared his story of his enactment up on the common last year and in doing so lost a tooth – we were told to return it if the geo phys team discovered anything of the sort.

Children holding up their ‘castles’ after having a go at the activities set up by the education team

Students also had the opportunity to walk through the secret tunnel; a passage leading from the centre of the old house to an exit down behind our base camp, or the ‘bothy’ a 5 minute walk away. The tunnel is not an easy walk; standing at only a metre high so crouching and hard hats were a definite must!

Again the day eventually turned into a suntrap and didn’t fail to disappoint with the heat. Everyone seemed to be looking forward to the trip to HamptonCourtPalace tomorrow – an identical place to what Basing House would have looked like at its prime.


Filed under: Day Four, Student Reporter, Summer Excavation Tagged: archaeology, building survey, dig, education, student-reporter

Day 6 – First Saturday of the Dig – by Michael

I’m Michael Sherry an Archaeology & History Student from Southampton. I’m most looking forward to experiencing a site which has both early modern archaeology as well as Roman and Iron Age finds. — 27th July 2013 First Saturday of the Dig With everyone feeling rejuvenated after the trip to Hampton Court the day before, we […]

I’m Michael Sherry an Archaeology & History Student from Southampton. I’m most looking forward to experiencing a site which has both early modern archaeology as well as Roman and Iron Age finds.

27th July 2013

First Saturday of the Dig

With everyone feeling rejuvenated after the trip to Hampton Court the day before, we began work on Saturday morning with high spirits. However, the threat of rain soon put everyone on edge and the weather threatened to ruin the Young Archaeologists Society’s visit to the site. Luckily for everyone the rain held off and Saturday proved to be a highly productive day.

Hard at work

Emily also found a clay pipe which got everyone excited for a short time until it was realised the pipe is most likely another re-enactor’s replica. The pipe is a replica of a pipe made to commemorate the sanctioning and construction of the Manchester Ship Canal (1885 – 1920)

Replica pipe found by Emily

Young Archaeologists Club

Chris’ “Young Archaeologists Society” paid a visit to the site and the restoration of the ring work. They enjoyed the activities set up and ran by various students, as well as getting a hands-on archaeological experience when they were allowed to trowel for a while in one of the trenches. They barely lasted twenty  minutes before complaining about sore knees and feet, and saying how they empathise with those who had been digging for a week.

Archaeology in action


Filed under: Day Six, Student Reporter, Summer Excavation Tagged: archaeology, pipe, Smoking pipe (tobacco), student-reporter, sunny, young archaeologists

Day 5 – Visiting Hampton Court Palace

On Friday, we took a well-earned break and visited Hampton Court Palace. We were very interested in seeing the location that had played such a big part in the life of William Paulet, who was responsible for the building of Basing House in the 1530s. Hampton Court is massive! We were immediately taken aback by […]

On Friday, we took a well-earned break and visited Hampton Court Palace.

We were very interested in seeing the location that had played such a big part in the life of William Paulet, who was responsible for the building of Basing House in the 1530s.

Hampton Court is massive! We were immediately taken aback by the scale of the gatehouse entrance into the Base Court. This is the same sort of architecture that would have been seen at Basing House, and is recreated in Mike Codd’s excellent painting on display in the Basing House museum.

Hampton Court Palace gatehouse:

Lunch on the lawns in front of the impressive gatehouse.

Basing House gatehouse reconstruction:

Mike Codd’s painting of the Basing House gatehouse. From the Basingstoke Gazette website.

The back of one of the gatehouses.

The back of the main gatehouse.

Jude, our resident expert in all things post-medieval, took us on a tour of the Palace site. There was so much to look at that we only really saw a very small part of the entire complex. We concentrated our efforts on the Tudor part of the Palace, but also found time to visit the superbly decorated Chapel Royal (which is mostly now from the design of the much later Sir Christopher Wren and Grinling Gibbons).

Just another amazing ceiling…

The impressive ceiling in the main hall.

 

Some gorgeous stained glass detail.

Everywhere you look, there are details!

The Henry VIII tapestries were breathtaking. There is so much detail in them. We spent a long time reflecting on what a talking piece they would have been when waiting audience with a representative of the King (or indeed, the King himself).

Alexander. A detail of one of the many huge tapestries.

My absolute favourite detail of the entire site has to be the decorative chimney stacks. There is a nice write up on them on the Historic Palaces website: http://www.hrp.org.uk/aboutus/whatwedo/AboutUsWhatwedoBuildingConservationProfileDecorativeChimneys

Apparently there are over 200 chimneys, although I only spotted a few of these.

Chimneys everywhere!

I also enjoyed the Tudor brickwork, particularly clear in the inner Base Courtyard. The diaper black patterning against the red bricks is gorgeous, especially at the parts where the lime mortar is still quite bright white. All in all, the result is a combination of surprisingly bright colours.

This photo of one of the fantastic sculptures in the Base Courtyard, also shows the black diaper patterning in the brickwork. Something we also see at Basing House.

More of the diaper patterning. You can also see one of the terracotta roundels to the left of this photos.

It was also very interesting to see the central fountain in the Base Courtyard. It looked from the base to be a similar size to the one in the Old House at Basing House. At Basing House, only the footings of the well remain, so it was useful to see how it may have looked. Although I do not know what period this particular feature at Hampton Court Palace comes from, the area of the Palace that we were in, was 16th century.

The central well. Did Basing House have a similar feature?

The well, photographed from the other side of the courtyard.

Our Artist-in-Residence got plenty of sketching done. I can’t wait to see the results!

Peter, sketching in the Base Courtyard.

Whilst on site, we kept an eye out for the Da Maiano terracotta roundels (most of which are very high up and so quite difficult to get a good view of). The roundels at Hampton Court Palace date from the 1520s, and were originally painted with bright colours.

At Basing House, in the Visitor Centre and in the Museum, there are some examples of the roundels found at Basing House. But these roundels, although stylistically similar, are made from stone rather than terracotta: That’s one point up for Basing House as stone roundels are far superior to teracotta moulded ones!

If you are interested in these roundels, there is another teracotta head, from the same workshop as the Hampton Court Palace roundels, at the National Trust’s The Vyne in Basingstoke. This is located very close to Basing House, and is where the Parliamentarians garrisoned when they were beseiging Basing House.  The Vyne website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/vyne/

The Hadrian roundel.

A particular highlight of my day was meeting Henry VIII. As you can see here, I was a little starstruck!

Nicole meets Henry VIII.

We had a lovely lunch picnic outside the Palace and some of us even managed to find an ice-cream van!

A group shot!

I would definitely recommend Hampton Court Palace as a day out. There is much to see and the temporary exhibitions are high quality and engaging.


Filed under: Day Five, Student Trips, Summer Excavation Tagged: archaeology, hampton-court-palace, henry VIII, paulet, royalty, Southampton, tudor, unisouthampton, william