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

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.

 


The 2014 Excavation Season is here!

Goodness me, it has been a busy three days! We have arrived on site and have been busily removing turf and beginning to set out how we are going to work on the archaeology that we are already uncovering. This site is so rich in standing remains and there are thousands of bricks just inches […]

Goodness me, it has been a busy three days! We have arrived on site and have been busily removing turf and beginning to set out how we are going to work on the archaeology that we are already uncovering. This site is so rich in standing remains and there are thousands of bricks just inches under the surface. Tudor bricks everywhere!

We’ve based the location of our first trench on our geophysical results from the survey carried out by students and headed up by Dom Barker, Tim Sly and Kris Strutt of the University of Southampton. Dom is on site with us this year, and has been talking the students who are doing their compulsory summer fieldwork dig through the ways that we can use magnetometry data to plan trench locations.

Two of the students who are digging this year are planning a blog post that will be published later in the week that will summarise the week’s findings, but for now we wanted to give you an idea of the kinds of research questions that we will be asking this year as we dig in the New House.

Research Aims

1. To gain a better understanding of the form and arrangement  of the New House and to think about different phases of building.

2. To consider the appearance of the house within the landscape.

3. To connect plans from the early excavations to the archaeology and see how accurate the original plans were

4. To better understand how the New House was destroyed and whether there were multiple stages to this process.

We’ll write a fuller description of each of these questions over the next few days so that you can follow along as we find evidence for our working ideas.

Next week we are going to be creating some 3D models of the trench so far so that we have a record of the first phase of our digging. So we will share these with you as we make them.

What an exciting season we have ahead of us!


Filed under: 2014 Excavation, Excavation Plans Tagged: 2014, 3D models, buildings, civil war, photogrammetry, plans, recording, research questions, tudor

A ‘17th Century’ Slipware Mug – by Jamie Ingram

Jamie Ingram dug at Basing House in Summer 2013, as part of a team of undergraduate students. This winter, Jamie wrote an essay inspired by an object found at Basing House. Jamie wrote this essay as part of a module that he was taking entitled: The Social Lives of Objects. Delivered by Dr. Yvonne Marshall, […]

Jamie Ingram dug at Basing House in Summer 2013, as part of a team of undergraduate students. This winter, Jamie wrote an essay inspired by an object found at Basing House. Jamie wrote this essay as part of a module that he was taking entitled: The Social Lives of Objects. Delivered by Dr. Yvonne Marshall, who is also part of the Basing House team, this module aims to look initially at how objects operate in ethnographic and contemporary worlds, then to use this knowledge to better understand how archaeologists might go about interpreting the role of objects in past societies. We think that Jamie’s essay is an excellent example of how this can be achieved. Jamie has very kindly shared his essay with us. 

Big thanks to Jamie!

A ’17th Century’ Slipware Mug

– by Jamie Ingram

In this essay I will analyse a piece of slipware pottery that was excavated during the summer 2013 University of Southampton dig at Basing House. It became obvious at the outset that this object had a strong agency and with further handling and study the mug turned out to have a complex story to tell anyone who had the time to pay attention to it. This story this mug can tell is one of ownership, loss and discovery but also a deeper story of the world it stands for. The mug stands at the centre of an ontological reality and it is through this reality that the object can be examined in both its ability to influence those about it via the primary agency that it carries and as a lens to the past. At times through this essay I refer to the mug as a 17th century slipware mug but as will become obvious this is not the entire truth about this object and it contains much more meaning and many other truths exist within the reality of this object.

The 17th century mug of interest in this essay is the fragmented remains of a slipware mug that was excavated in late July 2013 at Basing House, a site in Northern Hampshire. The mug is made from a red brown clay and decorated with a pattern created using slip, a watered down clay, that has been coloured to provide cream decoration this has then been glazed inside and out (figure 1) with only the base of the mug remaining undecorated and unglazed.

Figure 1 – Replica Slipware Mug – A Fragment of the Pot During Excavation ( Jamie Ingram, 2013)

Due to the broken nature of the object it is difficult to state the overall dimensions though I can say that the base would have been approximately 70mm in diameter. The handle, found intact but separated from the rest of the pot was 60mm high with a depth from the pot body of 40mm (Figure 2).

Figure 2 – The Pot Handle During Excavation (Jamie Ingram, 2013)

The site under excavation had been used as a gun platform during the English civil war and had been previously excavated during the 1960s by the Aldermasten archaeological society. The location has subsequently not been backfilled and had become intensely overgrown by the time the new excavation started. As the clearing of the plant matter and de-turfing took place it became evident that a number of the baulks left by the previous excavation had slumped and it was during the clearance of this slump and partial backfill that the fragments of the pot were revealed. As the fragments started to appear there was a general buzz of excitement about the excavation as it appeared that we were starting to uncover a potentially important piece of material from the site that had been missed by the previous dig.

This excitement continued to grow as more and more fragments were uncovered and the level of decoration became more apparent. The evidence of burning in the soil close to the object also suggested that there had been localized fire in the vicinity that matched with the charring on the sherds. Once the sherds had been cleaned properly and examined it became evident however that the slipware mug was in fact of modern construction (Figure 3 and 4), and bore the mark of a potter, Steve Millingham who make modern pottery objects based on those from the 17th century for re-enactors from the Sealed Knot organization. Mr Millingham was able to inform the excavation that the vessel was probably a mug made in the 1980s or 1990s and most likely bore the motto “Pity the por”(personal communication 04/12/13).

Figure 3 – Mug Base Showing Potter’s Mark (Basing House Project, 2013).

Figure 4 – Complete Mug Showing the Extent of Breakage and Fire Damage (David Allen, Hampshire County Council Museums Service, 2013)

Within the ontological confines created by the mug it became easy to relate to both the re-enactors and the original soldiers who would have been at this site. The mug had never been made with the intent to deceive but rather was a part of the epistemological construct created by the Sealed Knot in their attempt to interpret the world of the Civil War in the light of the modern consumerist world that they operate within. This world view generates a story of conflict between political ideals based on the interpretation of the beliefs that the king did or did not rule with the blessing of god, where the two sides come to war because the king will not give power to the parliament. I would contest however that this vessel gives us a lens to not only view the epistemological construct of the re-enactors but a chance to view at least in part the two antagonistic ontological states that existed in England at the time of the civil war in much the same way as the material of the modern hunting shrines of the Guatemalan highlands can provide a lens to the ancient realities of the predecessors of the modern Maya descendants (Brown and Emery 2008. P300-337).

The world of the re-enactor who owned and used this mug would when on site have, most likely, been one informed by the Sealed Knots interpretation of the siege of Basing House, based on the written history of the events, and the extant remains at the site. The use of objects purchased as ‘replicas’ to aid this demonstration of life and death at a civil war era siege is intended to allow both participants and observers to grasp a better understanding of the epistemological depiction of the world that is being created, it is impossible for the re-enactment to be anything other than a mapping over of knowledge of a past world onto the modern as to do otherwise would be a near impossible act.

It is clear from the way in which the excavation team reacted to the recovery of the vessel sherds that it held a level of primary agency that we were completely unready for. The ability of the object to create a level of excitement and enthusiasm with so many people, staff and student alike was truly incredible and can only be linked to the ability of this object to directly influence the world around it and the people inhabiting that world. As the object revealed more of its true self however the world around it changed from one of excitement about finding so much of a seventeenth century object to the intrigue of how a modern vessel in the style of its earlier counterparts had managed to come to rest in such an evocative location and why it had been made. In this way the slipware mug came to represent its unknown owner and the potter in much the same way as the broken green bottle in Janet Hoskins work came to represent the Maria Rihi (Hoskins, J. 1998 p161-163). It also though came to represent an unknown and possibly non-existent slipware mug that could have been present at the siege of Basing House and as such able to give us a level of access to the world of the English Civil War.

The object would however have exerted a strong primary agency on the re-enactor giving them access to a past, when equipped with the objects the re-enactor ceases to be the modern person that they are on weekday and becomes a soldier in the new model army, serving parliament and fighting against the injustices meted out by the king and his supporters. This primary agency is akin to the level of agency that can be attributed to objects from an animist culture, and whilst the re-enactor and the team of staff and students involved in the recovery of the object from the Basing House site to not live in a world where animism is widely expressed as a common practice it is never the less possible for objects to have such a strong level of agency when we are paying attention to them and allow them to influence our perception of the world.

In addition to the agency that this mug has on the modern world it also possesses a powerful property in that it allows, as a dualistic object to appear to sit within two distinct time frames, granting the archaeologist access to a temporal distance that is not always open to us. It stands for a time when two realities were in direct conflict and I would contest that this time represented by the epistemological construct of the sealed knot is in fact a result of the direct conflict of these two ontologies. On the one hand we have a world which holds at its heart the absolute truth that the king rules as a result of god and that he is in fact an aspect of god present on earth. On the other side we have a world that exists under the benefaction of god where all men and women are created equal and that the king like any other man is equal in the eyes of god and therefor fallible. This particular 17th century slipware mug being in material a creation of the twentieth century holds within it the properties of a theorised mug created during the 17th century. This knowledge held within the mug is what allows us to gain access to the ontological existence of the past and through it we can start to examine the nature of those worlds, the motto ‘pity the por’ would suggest that it was intended to instil or further a belief in Christian charity and that its owner was sympathetic to the ideals that the poor and needy during a period of general hostility and war. The physical presence of such an item on a battlefield tells of the duration of the siege, a marching army would most likely be using metal or wooden drinking vessels, objects that are resilient to damage of easy to replace at minimal cost, this slipware mug is going to be a more expensive item and by the nature of its material open to potential breakage during transport or battle. It tells the story of a soldier, stationed on a hillside or in the fortified house for the duration of the siege, a man with some means but who wishes to demonstrate in everyday life wishes to demonstrate an understanding of piety and generosity despite the horrors of civil war that he witnesses. The usual epistemological view of the 17th century is further reinforced by articles such as Diane Purkiss work on witchcraft in the English civil war where she describes it in terms of fantasy, and discusses people looking for people and events to blame for the horror (Purkiss 1997 p.103-132). This treatment of witchcraft and the hunting for it as a combined fantasy of a great many people directly undermines the ontological existence of the 17th century where god is seen as the arbiter of all things good and the evil all things evil and the witch is the embodiment of the devil and his demons on earth. It is therefore completely reasonable for godly people to accept that the witch exists and must be destroyed to counter the horrors they are facing at the time.

As I have already discussed this object was not created to deceive and even though at first it did this it was quickly forgiven as it obtained new meaning as the product of a living potter and therefor its story from creation to loss and destruction to archaeological recovery could be told in a complete form. Very few objects can claim such a complete biography within a single human generation and even fewer can express the level of agency that this mug can clearly do. The very nature of the mug and the world in inhabits makes it a special object to hold within the museum service collection and the ability of it to grant access to so many stories could make it a valuable tool for opening the way for many more people to understand the worlds of the past and particularly the civil war as it raged around Basing House.

In conclusion the 17th century slipware mug in question is a deeply complex object with primary agency in both the modern world and the world of the re-enactors. This agency is enacted in different ways in these two closely liked worlds but is always present and allows access to the past through its existence. What makes this mug unusual is its ability to deceive without trying, the ability of it to appear to occupy both the modern world and the world of the English Civil War. This ability is a function of the world the mug occupies, being distinct from the world that we are used to living in it functions as a mental bridge between the 21st and the 17th century. This ability to create a unique ontological space makes it a valuable, confusing and sometimes infuriating object that can if treated with appropriate respect open the eyes of anyone who works with it.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Nicole Beale, co-director of the Basing House excavation 2013 and David Allen from Hampshire Museums Service for their assistance in providing access to the communications with the potter who produced the vessel and images of it in sherd state following its cleaning and return to the museum service store.

References

Brown, Linda A. and Emery Kitty F. (2008) Negotiations with the Animate Forest: Huting Shrines in the Guatamalan Highlands.  Journal of Archaeological Method Theory. Vol 15 P. 300-337

Hoskins, Janet. (1998) Green bottles and green death. Biographical objects: How things tell the stories of peoples lives P. 161-181. Routledge, New York.

Perkis, Diane. (1997) Desire and its deformities: Fantasies of witchcraft in the English Civil War. The journal of medieval and early modern studies (1997) P103-132

Personal communication 04/12/13 email conversation with Beale, Nicole regarding the origins and manufacture of the slipware mug.


Filed under: Excavation Plans, Finds, History, Jamie Ingram, Student Reporter, Student Research Post Tagged: 1600s, 17th century, Christianity, civil war, clay, decoration, Diane Purkiss, epistemology, find, fragments, glaze, God, Guatemala, Janet Hoskins, Maria Rihi, Mayan, mug, object, pity the por, potter, potter's stamp, pottery, reenactors, replica, Sealed Knot, siege, slip, Slipware, tudor, vessel, witchcraft, world view, yvonne marshall

Interim Report 2013 – Finds

This Interim Report will soon be available as a PDF on the Hampshire County Council website for Basing House. The authors are: David Allen Gareth Beale Nicole Beale Chris Elmer Jude Jones Kristian Strutt Clare Allen Daniel Jones There are three posts that make up this report. The post below describes the excavation and recording […]

This Interim Report will soon be available as a PDF on the Hampshire County Council website for Basing House.

The authors are:

David Allen
Gareth Beale
Nicole Beale
Chris Elmer
Jude Jones
Kristian Strutt
Clare Allen
Daniel Jones

There are three posts that make up this report. The post below describes the excavation and recording methodology and outlines the research question for the dig for 2013. Two further posts describe the finds and also the geophysical survey that was started in Spring 2013 and which continued through the Summer of 2013. 

Part 2 – Finds

– By Jude Jones

In terms of finds this year’s excavations have revealed a variety of material, much of which was discovered in the partial infill of the AAS box trenches and was therefore residual. However once the old spoil had been removed the excavation of the baulks between the 1960’s boxes allowed a more rigorous investigation of their stratified contents which has helped to confirm the conclusions drawn by Combley, Notman and Pike in their 1964 report.

Prehistoric material found below the Roman levels was mainly represented by Iron Age ceramics. The majority of sherds were remarkably homogeneous, being fragments of  small to medium sized domestic and cooking vessels whose fabric was heavily tempered with roughly ground flint inclusions, identified by Bryony Lalor as similar to Late Pre-Roman Iron Age pottery found recently at Silchester. Several sherds retained internal cooking residue and external sooting. A few lithics were recovered, mainly flint flakes and worked cores. These largely derived from the 1960s spoil which has naturally decontextualised them.  However there were also two recognisable flint scrapers, one of which was plainly retouched.

The Roman finds were chiefly from ceramic vessels and the assemblage included the ceramic building materials already discussed. The domestic ware which emerged from the baulks was remarkably wide ranging in period and included fragments of Samian or terra rubra, black-burnished ware, some Alice Holt sherds, some Oxfordware and a number of fineware beaker sherds decorated with rouletting, encompassing a period from the early 2nd – 4th centuries AD. The earlier Samian pieces were heavily abraded, the later coarse and fineware sherds less so, the whole assemblage suggesting a great deal of continuity of occupation over the Roman period, especially if the earlier sherds were contained in an external working layer covering the burnt flint metalled surface laid down over the pre-Roman levels.  A few fragments of glass were also recovered amongst which was a sliver of window glass and two sherds of blue vessel glass. A yellow ring-shaped glass bead was also found but although this emerged from one of the baulk areas it was found in a bucket of spoil and so cannot be securely dated as Roman.

The baulks however yielded four bronze Roman coins. Two were very small (possibly minimi) and were remarkably fragile, the larger of the two, however, bearing the profile of a head facing right wearing a crested helmet. It remains unidentified presently. The other two coins have been identified by Christina Triantafillou of the University of Southampton. The earlier emerged from the flint-filled post-hole mentioned above and was a coin of Probus (AD 276-282) minted at Lugdunum, Gaul. Its obverse shows the emperor’s cuirassed bust facing right wearing a radiate diadem. On the reverse is the figure of Providentia standing to the left, holding a globe and cornucopia. The second is a larger coin of Gratian (AD 367-375) minted at Arles, Gaul with the inscription DN GRATIANUS AVGG AVG and the emperor’s draped and cuirassed bust facing right and wearing a pearl diadem (Roman Imperial Coinage, Arles 15 Type xiib). On the reverse is the figure of the emperor standing facing with his head to the left, holding a labarum (a military standard which incorporates the symbol of the Chi-Ro) in his right hand and resting his left hand on a shield. This is accompanied by the inscription GLORIA NOVI SAECULI. (RIC 46 AE Antoninianus). Both coins are in good condition.

Notably there appear as yet to be no medieval material whatsoever and finds from the early modern period mainly consist of large quantities of fragmentary demolition brick and stone work and some decorated fragments from high status terracotta architectural mouldings, presumably once adhering to the Old House buildings. Owing to the nature of the already excavated site it is not clear exactly how and when this material was originally deposited but it has been found intermixed with a number of fragile metal objects, many of which appear to be artefact or building fittings, such as a set of heavy-duty iron staples possibly serving as door hinges for a service or agricultural building. A barbless iron arrow-head was amongst these finds which may have come from a cross-bow bolt or possibly from a hunting arrow.  From the Civil War period seven musket balls were found. All were of lead except for one fashioned from lighter metal. This and another were of a smaller gauge, possibly made for pistols and all were round and undamaged, having either been dropped intact or fired as missiles which missed their targets.

Later ceramic material found in the spoil and the baulks consisted of sherds of 19th and 20th century glazed wares which included fragments of 19th century creamware, blue and white transfer decorated vessels and sherds from a number of 20th century glazed crockery items. The most recent ceramic material found in the spoil consisted of a fragmented straight-sided sugar or flour kitchen jar of blue and white striped Cornish ware and the modern replica 17th century decorated and inscribed slipware mug already discussed. Both vessels lay amongst picnic and other debris from the immediate past at the top of the infilling spoil. Much was briefly retained, processed and recorded as a teaching aid for the Southampton archaeology students who discovered this material. The temporary curation of such items was a demonstration of how the recent presence of tourists, visitors and re-enactment groups such as the Sealed Knot , all of whom had left this detritus, formed part of the long and continuing archaeology of the site.

The most complete and easily analysed assemblage is the Roman material which suggests considerable and lengthy occupation and the undoubted existence of a developed Roman domestic building in the area. The emergence of so much homogeneous LPRIA flint-tempered pottery also argues for some continuity of occupation by an Iron Age community prior to Roman or Romano-British development of the site. The conclusions to be drawn from the more securely dated baulk finds therefore can be said to back up the 1960s AAS archaeological findings.

Read the previous post of this Interim Report:

– Introduction and Recording Methodology

Read the next post of this Interim Report:

– Geophysical Survey


Filed under: Excavation Plans, Finds, Interim Report 2013, Jude Jones, Recording Methodology, Summer Excavation Tagged: Alice Holt pieces, architectural mouldings, Arles, arrow-head, baulk, beaker sherds, black-burnished ware, blue vessel glass, building fittings, ceramics, Chi-Ro, Christina Triantafillou, civil war, coinage, coins, Cornish ware, creamware, cross-bow bolt, door hinges, English Civil War Society, finds, fineware, flint flakes, flint scrapers, flint-tempered pottery, Gaul, glass, glass bead, glazed wares, Gratian, hunting arrow, iron, Iron Age, Late Pre-Roman, lithics, Lugdunum, medieval, minimi, missiles, musket balls, occupation, Oxfordware, picnic, pistols, Probus, roman, Samian, Sealed Knot, Silchester, slipware mug, spoil, staples, terra rubra, terracotta, vessels, window glass

Civil War Inspired Music

Each day that we’re digging, we’ll be driving to site from the University of Southampton to Basing House. That means that each day we have nearly two hours to fill.  We’ve been putting together a Civil War themed playlist to wile away the time. So far, we only have 8 or so tracks.  That’s alot […]

Each day that we’re digging, we’ll be driving to site from the University of Southampton to Basing House. That means that each day we have nearly two hours to fill.  We’ve been putting together a Civil War themed playlist to wile away the time. So far, we only have 8 or so tracks.  That’s alot of repeats!

Contributions to the list are therefore gratefully accepted!

Spotify Civil War Playlist


Filed under: Summer Excavation Tagged: civil war, Music, Spotify, travelling

Spring Survey – Week 2 Review

Originally posted on Basing House Project:
The undergraduates have finished working at Basing House for this Spring, and we’ll be back on site in a few weeks to collect  more data for some of our postgraduate students who are using…

Kristian Strutt:

Smashing blog from Nicole Beale on the completed survey at Basing House, and a bit of a low-down on the techniques used, represented by abbreviations and three letter acronyms in my blog over the last few weeks. Enjoy!

Originally posted on Basing House Project:

The undergraduates have finished working at Basing House for this Spring, and we’ll be back on site in a few weeks to collect  more data for some of our postgraduate students who are using the site for various projects.

This is the team from Week 2. I can’t believe how much ground these guys covered! Thanks all!

Spring Survey – Week 2 Team

I thought it might be useful to give you a rundown on the different tools that we were using to record the site during the topographic, building and geophysical survey, as we keep saying things like ‘mag’ and ‘GPR’ without explaining what any of them are!

In our next post, we’ll begin to share the results of the surveys, so do check back regularly, or subscribe to the blog for updates, using the link on the navigation to the right.

Geophysical Survey

There are a few pieces…

View original 1,635 more words


Basing House Survey Final Day – A rain check and some reflections

The second week of survey at Basing House finished on Friday in a spray of mud and rain, hailstones and inky cloud. What had promised to be a reasonable day quickly became unworkable, wet and cold. The teams set out … Continue reading

The second week of survey at Basing House finished on Friday in a spray of mud and rain, hailstones and inky cloud. What had promised to be a reasonable day quickly became unworkable, wet and cold. The teams set out for the final day of survey, focusing on completion of the magnetometry and resistivity in the area of the New House and outer bailey, and GPR over the outer bailey also. We abandoned the magnetic susceptibility to ensure that all hands were working on the res and mag. The rain set in and the GPR survey was the first to suffer, with the notebooks turning to mush.

Time for a weatherproof notebook!

Time for a weatherproof notebook!

The magnetometry continued, mopping up grids on the Civil War earthworks, and finishing the survey of the New House and outer bailey. Resistivity was completed in the Old House and the New House, although the team had suspicions that the wet weather would affect the results.

Kelly with the magnetometer

Kelly with the magnetometer

Rain? What rain?

Rain? What rain?

A new use for the resistance meter box

A new use for the resistance meter box

By midday the decision was made to start leaving the field. The resistance survey was completed and kit brought in. After lunch, and a cake-fest organised by Nicole and Gareth, the last grids of magnetometry and GPR profiles were finished, and the team started cleaning up kit and packing the van. The dark brooding skies did not change, and the bothy was locked up and all was finished by 3pm. The team headed back to Southampton for the routine of data download and meshing.

Maintenance on the Sensors and Software GPR

Maintenance on the Sensors and Software GPR

The team at the end of the survey, the Old House ringwork in the background

The team at the end of the survey, the Old House ringwork in the background

Data download revealed that the results from the resistivity were okay. The rain had affected them slightly, but some data processing should be able to deal with this. The line of the defences for the courtyard of the New House stand out spectacularly in thr results, together with features adjacent on the outer bailey. The downside is that the team did not quite complete all of the areas. The high resolution of the resistance survey at 0.5m by 0.5m travers and reading interval, meant that the work was slow. Similarly the magnetometer survey didn’t quite get started across the fence on the common. There is however plenty of scope to follow this survey up with more work in the summer alongside the excavation basinghousecat.wordpress.com.

In summary the two weeks have survey have been a success. Training apart, the team have produced a detailed topographic survey of the site, and combined resistance, magnetometer and GPR survey has been conducted within the scheduled area, providing a clear plan of the structural remains across the Old and New House, and the bailey and outer defences of the site. The students will now be using the results as part of their final assignments, and the results will go forward to help with new interpretations of the nature and extent of the earthworks and archaeological features at the site.


Basing House Survey, Day Four – Spring finally arrives!

We have had some really productive days on the second phase of survey at Basing House, with third year and postgraduate students from the University of Southamotin working hard, and carrying out resistance survey, magnetometry, GPR and magnetic susceptibility of … Continue reading

We have had some really productive days on the second phase of survey at Basing House, with third year and postgraduate students from the University of Southamotin working hard, and carrying out resistance survey, magnetometry, GPR and magnetic susceptibility of the Old and New houses, and Civil War defences and the outer bailey. Spring also finally arrived today after single-figure temperatures and damp weather. Altogether today marked the best day of surveying yet.

Survye in the area of the outer bailey

Survey in the area of the outer bailey

The GPR team and resistance survey teams have spent the last few days working in the Old House, and the outer bailey around the ringwork at the site. The results to date have shown the presence of structures under the modern ground level, particularly in the GPR for the Old House, but some interesting features were located today in the outer bailey, suggesting possible material associated with the pre-Tudor history of the site. The resistance survey of the New House has located an internal gatehouse between the House and the bailey, ad the circuit wall around the house.

Resistance survey of the New House

Resistance survey of the New House

The GPR survey team

The GPR survey team

The magnetometer survey has moved on incredibly well, with the teams surveying all around the ringwork, covering the Civil War defences of the site. A number of batteries and bastions seem to show in the results, together with a large quantity of ferrous disturbance around to the east of the New House, suggesting munitions and spent musket-balls in the area of the hottest action associated with the third siege. Dan has also uncovered and surveyed the remains of two Second World War gun emplacements on the fenceline between Basing House and Basingstoke common, woth the remains of concrete platforms and upright railway sleepers forming a curve.

Magnetometry of the Civil War defences

Magnetometry of the Civil War defences

Remains of WWII gun emplacement

Remains of WWII gun emplacement

In the afternoon the weather improved, and the clumps of primroses on the outer bank of the ringwork stood proud in the sunlight, covering the earthworks with pinpoints of yellow. The third resistance survey team continued work in the Old House, with some miscounting and resurveying of traverses at the 0.5m by 0.5m resolution. Good things seem to be coming out of the results of the resistance survey and GPR from this area.

Primroses on the bank of the ringwork

Primroses on the bank of the ringwork

Rough screen capture of resistance survey of the New House and outer bailey

Rough screen capture of resistance survey of the New House and outer bailey

So the results so far are incredibly promising for the site. The treams have worked very conscientiously and produced some amazing work, and tomorrow is the last day on site, here’s hoping for some more discoveries!


Basing House Spring Survey – Week 2 Day One

After a few weeks out of the field, the staff and students from the University of Southampton arrived back at Basing House to start the geophysical survey component of the fieldwork. A mix of third year students from Archaeology and … Continue reading

After a few weeks out of the field, the staff and students from the University of Southampton arrived back at Basing House to start the geophysical survey component of the fieldwork. A mix of third year students from Archaeology and Oceanography, Erasmus students and postgraduates headed out to the site. Chris Elmer again gave the group a tour of the site, while supervisors commenced gridding out the site using Smartnet GPS. The group were then divided into teams to carry out magnetometry, resistance survey, GPR and magnetic susceptibility.

Team gridding out the site with the GPS

Team gridding out the site with the GPS

Magnetometry commenced in the area to the west and south of the ringwork and Old House, covering parts of the Civil War defences. Two Bartington Instruments gradiometers were used. The resistivity teams started work in the area of the Outer Bailey, surveying at 0.5m by 0.5m resolution.

Magntometer survey across the Civil War defences

Magntometer survey across the Civil War defences

Resistance survey in progress

Resistance survey in progress

One team also got to grips with a survey of the Old House using a 200Mhz GPR . The aim with this is to map the remaining buied walls and rooms of the Old House, some of which run to a depth of 5-6m below the modern ground surface.

GPR survey in the Old House

GPR survey in the Old House

Results from the first day of work indicate possible Iron Age and Romano-British remains in the magnetometry, together with the clear line of the Civil War earthworks, and structures in the resistance and GPR survey. It is early days so far, but in the coming days more news on the project will be posted here and at basinghousecat.wordpress.com!