SETTING UP FOR THE THIRD BASING HOUSE FIELD SEASON

Reblogged from Day of Archaeology 2015: http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/third-basing-house-season/ Today I’m working at Hampshire Cultural Trust with Dave Allen. I’m lucky because my visit times with the regular weekly volunteer day at the Archaeology Stores, managed by the Curator of Archaeology, David Allen. To find out more about the work of David and the team, visit their excellent […]

Reblogged from Day of Archaeology 2015: http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/third-basing-house-season/

Today I’m working at Hampshire Cultural Trust with Dave Allen. I’m lucky because my visit times with the regular weekly volunteer day at the Archaeology Stores, managed by the Curator of Archaeology, David Allen.

To find out more about the work of David and the team, visit their excellent blog, which has a new post every Monday.

Hampshire Archaeology blog: https://hampshirearchaeology.wordpress.com/

Nicole Beale


I’ve driven down to the University of Southampton to help pack the van full of equipment. This is because we’re off to run the Basing House excavation field season on Monday. Very excited! Its chucking in down with rain so we’ve been trying to get all of the kit packed up quickly so that we can dry off.  The dig is run by the University of Southampton, the University of York and Hampshire Cultural Trust.

You can read more about this year’s field season on our blog: http://basinghouseproject.org/

Dom, Chris and the Green Shed

NICOLE BEALE


Filed under: Day of Archaeology 2015 Tagged: Basing House, community archaeology, Day of Archaeology 2015, digging, Early Medieval, equipment, excavation, Hampshire Cultural TrustBronze Age, hampshire-cultural-trust, Iron Age, medieval, Old Basing, Post Medieval, Public Archaeology, rain, roman, Romano-British, season, shed, Southampton, survey, SurveyArchaeology, University of Southampton

Magnetometer Survey at Basing Common

After the successes of the surveys and excavation at Basing House in 2014, a second season of work is being conducted by the Basing House CAT project (http://basinghouseproject.org/) directed by Nicole and Gareth Beale. Work on the excavation is ongoing, … Continue reading

After the successes of the surveys and excavation at Basing House in 2014, a second season of work is being conducted by the Basing House CAT project (http://basinghouseproject.org/) directed by Nicole and Gareth Beale. Work on the excavation is ongoing, and can be seen on the project blog. In addition to this work, however, further geophysical survey is also being conducted on Basing Common.

Elliot surveying the possible location of the siege camp on Basing Common using a magnetometer, with Basing House within the trees in the background

Elliot surveying the possible location of the siege camp on Basing Common using a magnetometer, with Basing House within the trees in the background

A combination of geophysics and metal detecting is being used over the area to provide information on the location of the Parliamentarian siege camp established in the area during the siege of Basing House. Work started today with Dominic Barker, the author, and a team of students and volunteers. Dom and others involved in the survey will be posting blogs in the coming weeks. However, the survey started well with a grid being established in the southern part of the Common.

Dom Barker gridding out using a GPS

Dom Barker gridding out using a GPS

A small area of magnetometry was covered, however, the results seem to indicate the presence of possible anomalies relating to a possible camp, including a broad ditch feature, a possible bastion, and other more ephemeral ditches and pits. The ploughsoil also indicates ferrous material over the area possibly associated with artefacts from the seige. The plan is to use metal detecting to find artefacts across the survey area, with these being bagged up and located using the GPS, allowing their distribution to be compared with the geophysical survey results. Please check back for further developments over the duration of the field season.

 


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 7 – Ice Cream, Rain & RTI! – by Vicky

Second Week Begins! So the first week of the Basing House dig has gone, and after a well-deserved Sunday break, the second week begins. Despite spells of rain, it did not dampen the team’s efforts with the trench dig and progress was made. This was seen especially in the tough far corner, which finally after […]

Second Week Begins!

So the first week of the Basing House dig has gone, and after a well-deserved Sunday break, the second week begins. Despite spells of rain, it did not dampen the team’s efforts with the trench dig and progress was made. This was seen especially in the tough far corner, which finally after a few days of mattocking and shovelling, the group finally dug through layers of ground and had successfully de-turfed a large area.

Morning trench shot.

Cap-Dan working hard with a mattock.

Education

Over in the education area, the chosen team worked well in preparing with activities for the public, including a ‘Smashing Archaeology’ game, where the object of the game was to place back together a smashed pot with masking tape- an inventive game that allows visitors to act like archaeologists!

There were also two very enthusiastic students who were dressing up as a Tudors.

Sophie and Phoebe posing as a Tudor man & woman.

Phoebe and Sophie enjoying the Tudor dressing up!

Ice Cream Break!

With thanks to the supervising staff, the team of both students and volunteers were served some lovely ice cream by two student volunteers. Despite it not being a particularly hot day, it was still a delicious treat, as a break from archaeological activities happening across the site.

Finds

There have been some interesting artefacts from the trench, ranging from a melted vintage Fanta bottle to a cow bone consisting of an ulna and radius. It is great to see such variety of finds, from different periods of time and I look forward in seeing what other awesome artefacts could arise from the main site.

Selection of finds.

Amazingly preserved cow bone found by volunteer Lucy.

An awesome melted vintage Fanta bottle.

Eddie and Alina happily working with finds washing!

Digitisation

Digitisation was an activity available for the first time. We were shown how the process of RTI occurs and given a chance to practice for ourselves. It was an interesting introduction to how digital processes are used in application of archaeology. For RTI, it simply using photography and a flash device to take pictures of (for example) a marking on the wall and then transferring it to a RTI Builder software that almost ‘translates’ the photos into a model, that brings out the detail. Unfortunately the set up was interrupted by some rain in the morning, but we prevailed by finding shelter and practicing under the shelter at base.


Filed under: Day Seven, Student Reporter, Summer Excavation Tagged: Basing House, education, finds, ice cream, rain, rti, student-reporter, tudor

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 5 – Hampton Court Palace – by Michael

After four hard days of work at Basing house, the team took a well earned break and headed down to Hampton Court Palace for a day trip. After a short lie-in we headed up north to the famous palace. Basing House is known to have been built in a similar style to Hampton Court so […]

After four hard days of work at Basing house, the team took a well earned break and headed down to Hampton Court Palace for a day trip. After a short lie-in we headed up north to the famous palace.

Basing House is known to have been built in a similar style to Hampton Court so the excursion helped us to identify the various parts of Basing House which had been described to us, as well as give us a sense of how grand Basing House once was. Callum says that his favourite part of the trip was the “Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber” exhibit which featured a large room filled with mattresses and had a short film being projected onto the roof. Alina’s favourite part on the other hand, was the famous Hampton Court Maze.

Overall the day out proved very useful both in helping the team bond as well as educating us all about the history of Basing House and helping us to gauge a scale of how it might have once looked, particularly the large gatehouse with the terracotta heads of Roman emperors on the walls.

Outside Hampton Court Palace Entrance


Filed under: Day Five, Student Reporter, Student Trips, Summer Excavation Tagged: Basing House, day trip, Hampton Court, hampton-court-palace, Henry VIII of England, London, student-reporter

Day 3 – Slipware Mystery! And some other stuff – by Jake

Written by Jake, The Northern One. — Day 3 On the 24th July 2013 at the Basing House Project a slipware tankard was unveiled in the far left corner of the excavation site. At first it was believed to be a c. 17th century contemporary piece, but after careful analysis by experienced Basing House staff, […]

Jake.

Written by Jake, The Northern One.

Day 3

On the 24th July 2013 at the Basing House Project a slipware tankard was unveiled in the far left corner of the excavation site. At first it was believed to be a c. 17th century contemporary piece, but after careful analysis by experienced Basing House staff, Dave Allen and Alan Turton came to the conclusion that the tankard was in fact a modern replica. Fire damage on the sherds led Jude Jones, our finds specialist to initially conclude that this was an original item; however the more plausible explanation was that this was an item specifically replicated for use by the Sealed Knot Civil War Re-enactment Society. It has been proposed that the fire damage was caused by the item having been thrown on a bonfire once it had served its purpose. It was also later discovered that the tankard was in fact made by a member of the Sealed Knot Society, a potter known as Spike. We discovered this interesting fact by Alan Turton knowing the seal which was stamped on the bottom of the object.

Replica slipware tankard.

There was also another interesting find today, a clay smoking pipe was discovered in the trench and this shows an interesting change in archaeology between the 60s and present day. The clay pipe shows us the growing interest in social archaeology as it was thrown in the spoil heap during the 60s but today is a very useful find as it helps us understand the social changes that happened as the use of tobacco grew. This can be seen because as the use of tobacco grew more common the hole in the smoking pipe grew smaller as working people wanted to use less tobacco in their pipes otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to afford it. The clay pipe then shows the change in archaeological practice since the past excavation on the site and the growing interest in social archaeology that has developed since the 1960s excavation.

Clay Pipe.

We also had the public visit an education centre which students set up and ran themselves. In the education centre they had set up a classic Tudor game called “The Kings Game”. They also had shield making, and artefacts such as skulls and miscellaneous Tudor items in their tent. The public reception to the activities was that it was a brilliant idea and much better way of engaging children in the past and also teaching them about it at the same time than just talking at them as is the usual practice in schools. We had many positive comments about the activities and they said that it was a very good idea. They also said that they had heard about the activities day in the Hampshire Now Magazine.

“The Kings Game”

Shield Making.


Filed under: Archaeology of Archaeology, Day Three, Student Reporter, Summer Excavation Tagged: archaeology, Basing House, Excavation (archaeology), Slipware, Smoking pipe (tobacco), student-reporter, The Sealed Knot