RESEARCHING THE HUMAN REMAINS AT HAMPSHIRE CULTURAL TRUST

Reblogged from the Day of Archaeology 2015: http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/researching-the-human-remains-at-hampshire-cultural-trust/ 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 […]

Reblogged from the Day of Archaeology 2015: http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/researching-the-human-remains-at-hampshire-cultural-trust/

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

Cynthia is working with Garrard to select samples for dating, to find out more about the human remains from the Danebury environs. Today they are working on the bones from an Iron Age cemetery, Suddern Farm. The work is part of a project with Oxford University, University of Glasgow and University of Leicester, and is ongoing.

Garrard and Cynthia look at the remains from the Danebury environs

Garrard points out that there is a visible healed fracture on the radius of the left wrist of the individual that they are looking at.

Garrard points out the healed fracture

Garrard is working on an individual from Weyhill Fair that was found under the foundations of a building. There had been very little information about the individual because the remains were under a floor and did not have any other means of dating associated with them.

The work area at Chilcomb HQ

Hampshire Field Club funded the radio-carbon dating and Garrard is assessing the materials which will make up part of the report covering this research.

Garrard

Cynthia

Nicole Beale


Filed under: Day of Archaeology 2015 Tagged: 2015Hampshire Cultural TrustAnglo-Saxon, bones, Bronze Age, Curation, Danebury, Early Medieval, excavation, finds, Hampshire, hampshire-cultural-trust, Human Remains, Iron Age, medieval, Museum Archaeology, Neolithic, osteology, Post Medieval, Prehistory, roman, Romano-British, Science, ScienceArchaeology, Skeleton, weyhill farm

WHERE ART MEETS ARCHAEOLOGY: FINDING ARTEFACTS FOR AN ART EXHIBITION OF EXCAVATIONS AT CALLEVA ATREBATUM

Reblogged from the Day of Archaeology 2015: http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/where-art-meets-archaeology-finding-artefacts-for-an-art-exhibition-of-excavations-at-calleva-atrebatum/ 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 […]

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

Sarah is a volunteer at Hampshire Cultural Trust and has been working with Lesley (who is not in today so we couldn’t get a snap of her!) to prepare a display on some of the material from 1970s and 1980s excavations at Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester).

Sarah – A Trust volunteer

The pieces will be on display at the Willis Museum in Basingstoke, another Trust managed museum, from the 15th to the 29th August and will accompany a special exhibition ‘Silchester: Life on the Dig’ which is made up of works by Silchester’s Artist in Residence for 2014, Jenny Halstead.

The exhibition will be on display in numerous other locations in the south, but the Silchester objects that Sarah has been selecting will be exclusive to the Willis Museum.

Sarah and Lesley need to choose a representative sample of objects, but also to identify objects that are appropriate for display, because they have an interesting feature, are not too fragile, and in the case of some of the tiny coins, large enough to see!

They picked out a selection of coins, there is also a glass bead that will be included in the display.

Coins! Lots of coins!

I don’t know what I love more, the coins, or the envelopes that the coins are stored in

Lovely coins

The glass bead

Sarah is holding a whetstone that is a fragment of sandstone, originally used as a roof tile, and then reused as a whetstone to sharpen chisels.

Sarah is holding the whetstone

The whetstone

The Samian bowl is very attractive and caught the eye of both of them when they were selecting items. It has all sorts of animals, including a deer, a goat, a hare, a boar, a bird, a dolphin, around the outside of it, and Sarah and Lesley thought that it would be fun to find out a bit more about the decoration. The bowl was made in Lezoux in the 2nd century AD.

The Samian bowl

A boar and a hunting dog?

A hare

The pair also found some nice details on some of the tiles in the stores, including one that has a clear dog print on it.

Some of the tiles and brickwork from Silchester

Naughty dog

Finally, just before re-packaging the items to be sent over to the Willis Museum, Sarah needs to type and print labels that will go on display alongside the objects. This task can be quite time consuming as it is nice to be able to provide a little contextual information for each object, and so some research must be done for some of the less common artefacts.

The objects will be on display at the Willis Museum in Basingstoke: http://hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/willis-museum

Nicole Beale


Filed under: Day of Archaeology 2015 Tagged: artefacts, Curation, Day of Archaeology 2015, excavation, finds, Hampshire, Hampshire Cultural TrustArchives, hampshire-cultural-trust, Iron Age, museum, Museum Archaeology, pot, roman, Romano-BritishArchive, Samian, Silchester, tiles, University of Southampton

TAKING THE IRON AGE TO THE ROMANS: RESEARCHING IRON AGE FINDS FOR AN OPEN DAY AT ROCKBOURNE ROMAN VILLA

Reblogged from the Day of Archaeology 2015: http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/taking-the-iron-age-to-the-romans-researching-iron-age-finds-for-an-open-day-at-rockbourne-roman-villa/  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 […]

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

Two of the Trust’s volunteers, Peter and Jane, have spent the morning working through a collection of artefacts from a late Iron Age site near to Rockbourne.


Peter and Jane checking objects against the archive inventory

The site was excavated in the mid-1970s as part of a British Gas pipeline being installed, and our intrepid volunteers have been doing some detective work to try to make connections between the objects from the stores here at Chilcomb and the paper archive which was published some time ago.

Objects need to be located and then checked. This is also a great opportunity to re-pack some of the more fragile objects.

Rockbourne Roman Villa is run by the Trust and this weekend will be hosting a family fun day. The event organisers want to celebrate the area’s Iron Age connections, and so the team at Chilcomb have been set to task to find objects to showcase on the day.

In the first few boxes, they had already found some great objects to be taken up to Rockbourne for visitors to see.

Lots to work through!

In one of the boxes, Jane unpacks a huge tankard. It’s much larger than we had all expected and lots of jokes about the serious business of beer-drinking in the Iron Age ensue.

Jane finds an Iron Age tankard

The huge tankard

Unpacking the tankard

Next, they unpack fragments of a kiln lip. On the underside there are clear finger-marks, left from where the clay had been quickly shaped.

The kiln rim

The pair spend some time focussing on the profile of a Late Iron Age large pot that is in several parts, and manage to piece it back together. It will provide a great prop for showing younger visitors how archaeologists can infer pot shapes from diagnostic sherds.

Hang on a minute, I think there’s a good profile here…

Does this go here?

Now we’ve got it!

Tucked into one of the boxes is a nice example of a spindle whorl and also a small box which contains a bronze pin, probably from a brooch.

The brooch pin (you can just see the spindle whorl under Jane’s right hand)

A big pot!

Still plenty left to unpack and check

Peter and Jane

We’ll create labels for all of these objects and then transport them up to Rockbourne in time for the event on Sunday. Do come along if you’re in the area.

More about the event: http://hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/event/festival-british-archaeology-experience-iron-age

Nicole Beale


Filed under: Day of Archaeology 2015 Tagged: archives, Day of Archaeology, Day of Archaeology 2015, education, excavation, family, finds, Hampshire, hampshire-cultural-trust, Iron Age, lyndhurst, museum, Museum Archaeology, Open Day, rockbourne, Rockbourne Roman Villa, roman, Romano-BritishArchive, sorting, stores, villa, workshop

Interim Report 2014 – Finds

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

Finds

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

Introduction

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

Topsoil

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

Ceramics

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

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

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

Metalwork

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

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

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

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

Window Glass    

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

Shell and bones

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

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

Masonry

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

Ceramic Building Material (CBM)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Read more of the 2014 interim report

Read about the excavation for 2014

Read about the recording methodology from 2014

Read about the geophysical survey results from 2014


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

Student Research: Recording Church Graffiti

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

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

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

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

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

Thank-you to Vicky for this excellent blog post!

Recording Church Graffiti

by Vicky Man

Introduction

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

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

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

What is RTI? And graffiti…?

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

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

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

Example Graffiti

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

The Process!

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

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

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

Final words…

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

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

 Vicky Man

 


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

Battlefield Archaeology of Basingstoke Common

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

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

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

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

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

The Battlefield Archaeology of Basingstoke Common

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

Walking the Common, Photo by Richard Leese

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

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

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

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

Colin finds an artefact. Photo by Richard Leese.

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

Flags mark the survey location. Photo by Richard Leese.

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

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

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

Sam Wilson

PhD Candidate, University of Huddersfield
Battlefield Archaeologist, Cotswold Archaeology


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

Basing House Project Joins Pinterest

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Basing House’s board Tudor Objects on Pinterest.

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


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

The 2014 Small Finds go for Conservation

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

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

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

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

The 2014 Small Finds go for Conservation

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

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

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

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

David Allen giving us a tour of the Archaeology Collections.

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

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

 


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

Replicas and Archaeology

Emma has written about an exciting discovery that she made in week two. Thank-you to Emma for telling us all about her find. – Replicas and Archaeology Written by Emma Forber During the second week of the excavations the archaeologists also got to experience the Basing House tunnel. Halfway down the tunnel I spotted a […]

Emma has written about an exciting discovery that she made in week two.

Thank-you to Emma for telling us all about her find.

Replicas and Archaeology

Written by Emma Forber

During the second week of the excavations the archaeologists also got to experience the Basing House tunnel. Halfway down the tunnel I spotted a round object and picked it up. Once I observed it, it was revealed to be representing an Elizabethan coin. However after discussion with Jude Jones and Alan Turton, it was decided to be a replica that must have been dropped down the tunnel.

Photo by Emma showing the front of the coin.

Photo by Emma showing the back of the coin.

In deciding it was a replica, we went to compare the coin with those that are sold in the visitor centre at Basing House (as shown in the photograph [photographed by Chris Elmer] and there are a few differences.

Photo by Chris Elmer of the coin available to buy in the Visitor Centre compared to the coin found on site by Emma.

The modern replicas being sold in the visitor centre are larger than the one discovered in the tunnel and the shape of the queen is slightly different therefore it is concluded that the discovered in the tunnel may be an earlier replica.


Filed under: 2014 Excavation, Finds, Student Reporter Tagged: coin, elizabeth, replica