2016 Fieldwork Plans

This year we will be working on the archives for the previous 100+ years of research at Basing House. We will not be digging, but we will be sharing our research work on the Basing House blog and Facebook page.

The Basing House research team are happy to announce the plans for the 2016 summer fieldwork season.

This year, we are going to be working at the University of Southampton and at Hampshire Cultural Trust on the Basing House site archive. We will therefore not be digging at Basing House this summer. We will be back on site next year, so please do continue to follow the project.

We will be producing the interim report for the work carried out so far, and will be producing some visualisations and audio-visual content from the research findings to date. We will also be planning future excavations at the site, and will share the research questions with you as the 2016 season progresses.
Nicole, Gareth, Jude and Chris will be keeping you up to date on the project blog and Facebook page, so keep an eye out for further posts.
Thanks,
The Basing House project team

Filed under: 2016 Fieldwork, Excavation Plans Tagged: archive, fieldwork, interim report, research, research questions, visualisations

New Facebook Page

The 2015 has a new Facebook page that you can follow to keep up to date with the dig team while we are on site this summer. The old page is still available to browse through if you are feeling nostalgic, but we won’t be updating it this year. To find the new page in Facebook, […]

The 2015 has a new Facebook page that you can follow to keep up to date with the dig team while we are on site this summer. The old page is still available to browse through if you are feeling nostalgic, but we won’t be updating it this year.

To find the new page in Facebook, search for ‘Basing House Project’ or click the link below:

http://www.facebook.com/BasingHouseProject 

We’ll see you on Facebook!


Filed under: Excavation Plans

Portraits of Diggers

As per last year, part way through the season I became fascinated by the physicalness of digging. I’m always struck by the way that excavators manipulate their bodies whilst digging, fitting themselves into tiny gaps, like those internet meme photos of cats in glass bowls. The angles necessary to really get your trowel into the […]

As per last year, part way through the season I became fascinated by the physicalness of digging. I’m always struck by the way that excavators manipulate their bodies whilst digging, fitting themselves into tiny gaps, like those internet meme photos of cats in glass bowls.

The angles necessary to really get your trowel into the corners of a Tudor drain, and the flicking of the wrist needed to excavate the bottom of a 17th century trench, all results in yoga-like positions. I took a few snaps in the second week of the dig that I wanted to share with you.

We also had a visit from Peter Wheeler in the second week of the season. Peter is an excellent photographer, and I couldn’t resist including some of his photos here.

Richard

Will

David (left) and Mike (right)

Kayleigh

Jamie

David

Will and Tilly

Jim

Gareth

Will

David

Jordan

Tilly

Miriam

Richard Pougher

Becca

Lucy

Jamie

Nicole

Ian (left) and Peter (right)

Tilly

Sophie

Becca and Eddie

Neil (left) and Jim (right)

Anne

Gareth

Elliot

Alex

Dom

Steve

Mike

Dom

Barry

Tilly


Filed under: 2014 Excavation, Archaeologist Portraits, BAHS, Excavation Plans, Images Tagged: bodies, digging, movement, photography, portraits, shapes

Magnetometer Survey at Basing Common

Originally posted on Kristian Strutt:
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…

nicoleebeale:

Kris Strutt has written a blog post about the first few days of the survey of Basingstoke Common. We can’t wait to see the results!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the initial findings Kris!

Originally posted on Kristian Strutt:

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…

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Filed under: Excavation Plans

Facebook Page for Basing House

If you enjoy following our blog, you might also like to take a look at our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BasingHouseCAT
Do share with your Facebook friends, we always love getting new followers!Filed under: Excavation Plans

If you enjoy following our blog, you might also like to take a look at our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/BasingHouseCAT

Do share with your Facebook friends, we always love getting new followers!


Filed under: Excavation Plans

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

Integrating Types of Archaeological Data – Dan’s Major Project

Dan Joyce, our trench supervisor for the 2013 summer field season last year, has written a blog post to summarise his major dissertation project. Dan studied the University of Southampton Masters in Archaeological Computing last year, which he completed at the end of 2013 (well done Dan from the Basing House team!!!)! Dan’s project looked […]

Dan Joyce, our trench supervisor for the 2013 summer field season last year, has written a blog post to summarise his major dissertation project.

Dan studied the University of Southampton Masters in Archaeological Computing last year, which he completed at the end of 2013 (well done Dan from the Basing House team!!!)!

Dan’s project looked at how archaeologists can mesh together different types of archaeological data.  Dan is a graduate of the University of Southampton’s Masters in Archaeological Computing run by the Archaeological Computing Research Group.

The course has two major strands to it, one concentrates more on 3D graphics and the theory of archaeological visualisation (Gareth and I are also graduates from this programme), and the other on geographical information systems and survey.

Thanks to Dan for writing this post. 

CLICK ON AN IMAGE IN THIS ARTICLE TO SEE IT UP CLOSE.

Dissertation on the integration of digital archaeological data

Introduction

My dissertation for my masters in Archaeological Computing (Virtual pasts) at the University of Southampton was concerned with integrating different types of digital archaeological data from Basing House. This included a total station and GPS (Global positioning system) topographical survey of the site, a total station building survey of the 16th century manorial barn, lidar data of the site, geophysical survey data, total station and photogrammetry data and section drawings of the 2013 excavations as well as digital context information.

Topographical and building survey integration

As part of the practical aspect of the Advanced Archaeological Survey course undertaken at the University of Southampton a topographical survey was undertaken on the site using a total station and GPS to record points on the ground. These points were then processed in both the GIS (Geographic information system) software ArcMap and AutoCAD Civil to form a coherent surface. In the case of AutoCAD Civil a TIN (Triangulated Irregular Network) was created, this forms a surface by joining the points together to form triangles (figure 2). In ArcMap a raster DEM (Digital Elevation Model) was created, this forms a much smoother surface by interpolating the surface between the known points (figure 3).

A standing building survey was also undertaken on the 16th century manorial barn using a total station (figure 1).

Figure 1 – Total station building survey of manorial barn

The two surveys were combined, with the topographical survey and the building survey appearing together in their correct positions within the British National Grid reference system, as can be seen in figures 2 and 3.

Figure 2 – TIN of topographical survey with the building survey of manorial barn

Figure 3 – Raster of topographical survey with the building survey of manorial barn

Geophysical survey integration

As part of the practical aspect of the Archaeological Geophysics course at the university, a geophysical survey of much of the site was undertaken, this involved resistivity, magnetometry and ground penetrating radar surveys. The results from these surveys were integrated with that from the topographical survey within ArcMap as can be seen in figures 4 and 5.

Figure 4 – Resistivity survey overlain on top of TIN of topographical survey

Figure 5 – Magnetometry survey overlain on top of TIN of topographical survey

Another step was to integrate the lidar data procured of the site with GIS and the geophysical survey data as seen in figure 6.

Figure 6 – Geo-physical survey data overlain on top of lidar data of the old house

Lidar data

As we had procured lidar data of the site from the Environment Agency it was decided to experiment on it. A number of features could be seen in the lidar data of the common using a hillshade in ArcMap (or other software). A hillside creates an artificial light source within the software from a set direction and altitude causing shadows to be formed by any raised areas in the lidar data (figure 7); altering the direction and altitude of the light source can reveal different features. More on this can be seen in my blog on processing lidar data.

Figure 7 – Lidar data of the Common showing a number of interesting features

Some of these features can also be seen in the geophysical survey of the common undertaken by Clare Allen.

Figure 8 – Geo-physical survey of the common overlain on top of the lidar data

3D visualisation of existing archaeological data

As an aid to understanding the 1960s excavations before we began the 2013 excavations I digitised the plans and sections and created a 3D model in AutoCAD, although far from perfectly accurate the model made it much easier to understanding how features related to each other in this earlier dig and what was missing.

Figure 9 – 3D model created from 1960s excavation data

I experimented with a number of methods of tying the context information from these excavations to the sections, including just displaying it next to the section within AutoCAD.

Figure 10 – Digitised section with context information

A later attempt with the data from the 2013 excavations involved the entering of the context information from the excavation into an ARK database (a web accessible database solution created by L-P Archaeology), a hyperlink was created and linked to each context which referenced the relevant webpage associated with the data in the database and this data could then be displayed with one click of the relevant context within AutoCAD.

Figure 11 – Digitised section with ARK database record

Special find information could be displayed in the same manner by clicking on the relevant point in the model.

Photogrammetry

Photogrammetry is a technique where 3D models can be created from multiple overlapping photographs by matching the same point in each photograph. As well as using it to record the 2013 excavation I experimented with it to see if slides from the 1978-83 excavations could be used to create a 3D model of this dig. Although it was quite successful much more work needs to be done on the process including surveying in known points on site to aid with stitching the photographs together.

Figure 12 – Photogrammetry model of the old house gatehouse from the 1978-82 excavations

Photogrammetry was also undertaken on box 9A during the 2013 excavations to see how good a 3D model could be created (figure 13), four nails were driven in at the four corners of the box to act as ground control points.

Figure 13 – Photogrammetry model of Box 8A

Figure 13 shows Box 8A with the four ground control points which were surveyed in allowing the integration of the photogrammetry model with ArcMap as can be seen in figure 14 where the model is displayed in its correct position underneath the TIN created from the topographical survey.

Figure 14 – Integration of photogrammetry data with topographical survey within ArcMap

Experimentation was also conducted on recording the excavations from above using a camera attached to a 3m pole (figure 15).

Figure 15 – Elevated photography on a pole being undertaken

This technique allowed the creation of a 3D photogrammetry model of the whole excavation (figure 16).

Figure 16 – Photogrammetry model of the 2013 excavations

3D contexts

Due to the fact that the 2013 excavation was recorded with a total station by surveying the outline of contexts and taking levels on the top of them it was possible to experiment with the technique of creating 3D contexts within AutoCAD. First the points from the context were turned into TIN surface (figure 17).

Figure 17 – Wireframe surface created from total station survey of a context

Then the surface was extruded downwards (figure 18)., the same was done with the context below and the second 3D object was subtracted from the first to form a 3D context. This was continued until all the contexts had been created in 3D

Figure 18 – Wireframe 3D context

Due to the fact that few contexts were actually removed during the excavation part of one of the sections was chosen for this process resulting in the creation of a series of 3D contexts within AutoCAD which could be removed at will virtually recreating the excavation process (figure 19). The volume of the 3D context could also be calculated adding this information to that recorded during the excavation.

Figure 19 – Section of 3D contexts created from total station data

Integration of total station excavation data

Due to the fact that the excavation was recorded digitally using a total station it could easily be incorporated with the topographical survey and building survey data recorded previously. This can be seen in figure 20 where the surfaces created from the excavation data can be seen under the TIN created from the topographical survey in AutoCAD.

Figure 20 – Integration of excavation data with topographical survey in AutoCAD

While figure 21 shows the point data underneath a TIN surface in ArcMap which is unable to display the surfaces created n AutoCAD.

Figure 21 – Integration of excavation data with topographical survey within ArcMap

Conclusions

Although this work demonstrates the potential for the integration of many different types of digital archaeological data a great deal of work still needs to be done to make it a practical process and to solve a number of problems.

Blog post by Dan Joyce


Filed under: Dan Joyce, Data Processing, Digital Methods, Excavation Plans, Geophysical Survey, Images, Magnetometry Survey, Spring Survey, Summer Excavation Tagged: 3D, 3D context, Archaeological Computing, ArcMap, ARK, AutoCAD, barn, building survey, context, Environment Agency, excavation, gps, Lidar, MSc, photogrammetry, TIN, topographic, total station, wireframe

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

Interim Report 2013 – Introduction

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. 

Investigating Earlier Excavations

In 1962 the Aldermaston Archaeological Society (AAS) responded to a request by the owner of Basing House, the Hon P C Orde-Powlett, to see if there was evidence for the ‘widely held view’ that the site was lived on before Norman times. Their initial trenches were encouraging, but real success came with the use of a ‘proton magnetic gradiometer’ which revealed a complex of ditches to the south of the ringwork.  The ‘customary square grid’ they employed to investigate these anomalies revealed evidence of Belgic and Romano-British occupation and their work was published in the pages of the Proceedings of the Hants Field Club (see below).

Their one omission, at the end of the project, was to backfill the ‘square grid’ and this had left something of a blemish on the flanks of the Civil War ramparts thrown up in 1643 to defend Basing House.  It was, therefore, gratifying to be granted permission (Scheduled Monument Consent) to re-examine the 1960s trenches, backfill them, and reinstate the pre-1960 profile.  In order to achieve this the Museums Service invited the University of Southampton to participate, both by using the site as a training ground for teaching geophysics (Spring, 2013) and by making the excavation one of their summer field schools. The excavation also provided a focus for summer excavation by the Basingstoke and Deane Local History and Archaeology Society who worked alongside the students on site, providing excavation expertise and also supporting the public engagement activity that was designed to help visitors understand the work in progress.

University of Southampton and Hampshire County Council Excavations

Excavation took place between 22 July and 11 August 2013 and an area 18m x 17m was opened, which encompassed all the principal squares of the 1960s dig. After deturfing, the material in the boxes was removed, with the exception of one which had been backfilled to the brim.  Many of the half-full squares had become dumps for burnt material and debris and excitement levels ran high as sherds of slip decorated pottery were found. Spirits were only slightly dampened when it was realised that they were fragments of a Civil War history re-enactment replica, particularly as the potter who made it could be traced by his maker’s mark and reached by email (the pot is about forty years old!).

Total station derived point and polygon data illustrating the extent of the excavation.

Figure 1. Total station derived point and polygon data illustrating the extent of the excavation. Figure by D. Joyce, 2013.

As work continued, the earlier occupation layers identified by the Aldermaston diggers came more clearly into view.  Chief among these was a spread of crushed burnt flint which had all the appearance of a deliberately metalled surface.  Finds placed this in the Roman period, more specifically the 3rd and 4th centuries. A new feature, found just beyond the limits of the AAS dig, was a substantial rectangular posthole, heavily packed with large flints.  This produced a coin of Probus (276-82) minted at Lyons.

The burnt flint layer covered deposits of chalk and yellow clay which filled the upper part of the two hollows noted by the AAS.  They had identified the hollows as ‘Belgic huts’ but the scoops were rather elliptical and had no accompanying structural features.  They are perhaps best considered as ‘working hollows’ which attracted Late Iron Age occupation soil before the more deliberate infilling of the Roman period.

Recording Methodology

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

All contexts and find locations were captured in 3D as part of a comprehensive total station survey of the excavation. The extents of contexts as well as their upper and lower surfaces were captured at a resolution of approximately 10cm2. The resolution of this record was higher where necessary due to the complexity of the surface or context edge.

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

Read the next two posts of this Interim Report:

– Finds

– Geophysical Survey

 


Filed under: Excavation Plans, Interim Report 2013, Recording Methodology, Summer Excavation Tagged: interim report, recording methodology, survey, total station survey, trenches