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

The 2014 Basingstoke Common Survey

Will Heard, who is about to embark on the Archaeological Computing Masters programme at the University of Southampton, has written a blog post summarising his time with us at Basing House this season. Will was working closely with Dom Barker, who headed up the survey of Basingstoke Common. Will is an important member of our […]

Will Heard, who is about to embark on the Archaeological Computing Masters programme at the University of Southampton, has written a blog post summarising his time with us at Basing House this season. Will was working closely with Dom Barker, who headed up the survey of Basingstoke Common.

Will is an important member of our team and we are really appreciative of his volunteering to take part in both the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Thanks for this post, Will!

The 2014 Basingstoke Common Survey

Alongside the excavation at Basing House during the summer of 2014, a geophysical survey was carried out on the large area of land to the south known as the Basingstoke Common. Previous archaeological investigation on the Common has been quite piecemeal, and our survey aimed to compliment the excellent geophysical survey from 2013, carried out by Clare Allen, who was also associated with the Basing House Project.

The common with Basingstoke in the background. Basing House is amongst the trees in the right of the picture.

The Common rises above the Old and New Houses to the south and is locally suspected to be the site of one or two of the four Parliamentarian siege camps that Oliver Cromwell set up during the siege of Basing House in 1644. Thus, the 2014 survey examined a gentle ridge rising above Basing House to the south. The land appears, with only cursory examination, to be well suited to such a camp.

The land slopes gently towards Basing House, which was quite desirable with the weapons of the day, whose projectiles dropped significantly over large distances. The ridge would also have protected a possible siege camp, accommodating hundreds or thousands of men, from retaliation from the Royalists in Basing House. In terms of wider connections, the land is directly next to the modern A30, which existed as the main London to Exeter road during the 17th century. Supplies and reinforcements could easily have travelled to a camp along this road.

Dom using a highly accurate GPS device to set out our grids, so we did not wander astray.

Our survey used a gradiometer to measure minute differences in magnetic readings around the Common. Small variances in magnetic readings, when visualised on a computer, can reveal the presence of sub-surface features, like ditches, mounds or areas of debris. The survey systematically examined a large area of around eighty thousand square metres. The results are promising, revealing angular and round features, areas of intense activity and much more.

After a desk-based assessment of documents, maps and other sources, the interpretation of the results can begin properly. After that, we will truly be able to say whether or not we believe we have detected a Civil War camp, or if not, what we believe we have instead.

Elliot using the magnetometer.

The survey was a success, with only a few mishaps thanks to metallic phones and belts affecting the magnetic readings. Thanks go to everybody that helped with the survey come rain or shine, whether using the magnetometer, moving guide lines, giving encouragement or providing makeshift non-metallic headgear in the driving British rain.

Special thanks to Dom who led the survey and Elliot, Peter, Tilly, Lucy, Roy and all the other conscripts. Depending on the interpretation of the results, more geophysics may be carried out on the Common next year, so keep an eye on the blog as time goes on!


Filed under: 2014 Excavation, Geophysical Survey, Magnetometry Survey, Student Reporter, Student Research Post, Will Heard Tagged: 1644, A30, basingstoke, basingstoke common, camp, common, ditches, dom barker, Geophysical, geophysical survey, guide lines, magnetometry, Parlimentarians, postgraduate, Royalists, siege, siege camp, siege of Basing House, sub-surface features, supplies, survey

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

Guest Post: Geophysics on Basingstoke Common – Clare Allen

Clare Allen has written a post updating us on her ongoing research for her Masters in Archaeological Surveying and Landscape major project. — The three weeks spent doing geophysics on the common were very eventful; from running away from cows to stomping down nettles. However, some very interesting results have been achieved, with a lot […]

Clare Allen has written a post updating us on her ongoing research for her Masters in Archaeological Surveying and Landscape major project.

The three weeks spent doing geophysics on the common were very eventful; from running away from cows to stomping down nettles. However, some very interesting results have been achieved, with a lot of archaeology being revealed on the common. Based on the nature of potential archaeology, the technique I decided to use was magnetometry. Using the OS data and GPS points the map (see the picture below) shows the full coverage of the survey.

Magnetometry is an efficient geophysical method used to measure the variation of magnetic properties of the soil. It is mostly suited to identifying highly oxidised material such as kilns, ovens, hearths, ditches and pits. This technique is heavily reliant on the presence of weakly magnetised iron oxides, usually through heating.

Chalk is one of the most responsive sub-soil types for magnetometry, influencing the quality of the results. Being located on chalk downland, this method was an ideal option for the Basingstoke area.

Results can also be heavily affected by the presence of magnetic items in the area such as pylons, overhead cables, fences and also on the surveyor. Thus the surveyor must always be completely metal free and the equipment must be kept at a distance to metal in the area.

This map shows the GPS points marking area covered by the magnetometry. The image uses EDINA Digimap Ordnance Survey Service, 2013.

Shows the GPS points marking area covered by the magnetometry on Basingstoke Common. EDINA Digimap Ordnance Survey Service, 2013. Image produced by Clare Allen

Overall, the survey went really well, producing some great results. Both the undergraduate students and volunteers got the chance to learn the main principles of magnetometry as well as the practical aspect of how to use the equipment. Those who wanted the chance to use the magnetometer were given the opportunity to do so and picked it up really well.

Images of the magnetometer in use:

Dan and Vicky taking the mag across one of the grids on the Common.

Clare using the mag on the Common. In this photo you get a good view of the ‘strings’. These are plastic line, marked at one metre intervals by tape.

Below is an image of the results that were collected over the three weeks. The results have not been fully processed as of yet and remains a bit patchy and fuzzy in some areas. However, the results have generally shown up some interesting features including the World War two anti-tank ditch. Using the results I will create digitised maps highlighting the archaeology and examine the defensive features within this data and the data collected over the spring survey.

Magnetometry data of Basingstoke Common; not yet fully processed. Image produced by Clare Allen

Clare Allen


Filed under: Clare Allen, Magnetometry Survey, Student Research Post, Summer Excavation, Survey Equipment Tagged: basingstoke, clare-allen, common, magnetometry, survey, world war two

Using Software to Synthesise Data

Dan has put together a few screenshots of some of the awesome things that he has been doing as part of his dissertation work for the Masters in Archaeological Computing. Dan’s dissertation topic is: How can modern computer software be used to create a comprehensive synthesis of information gained from archaeological sites, and what can […]

Dan has put together a few screenshots of some of the awesome things that he has been doing as part of his dissertation work for the Masters in Archaeological Computing.

Dan’s dissertation topic is:

How can modern computer software be used to create a comprehensive synthesis of information gained from archaeological sites, and what can be gained from this approach?

In Dan’s own words:

“I am seeing how possible it is to integrate data from Topographical, Geophysical and Building Survey, Old Excavation Data (in the form of paper and permatrace records as well as photographs), Digital Excavation Data (in the form of Total Station context recording, digitised section drawings, and context records in a database), photogrammetry data, Lidar data and Ordnance Survey data within a different software solutions. i.e Esri ArcGIS, AutoCAD Civil 3D and Map 3D.”

This photo shows Peter and Gareth using the makeshift ‘pole-camera’ to take a series of photographs of the trench that Dan has stitched together using PhotoScan.

Nicole, Peter and Gareth using the 'pole-camera'

Chris, Peter and Gareth using the ‘pole-camera’

Photogrammetry results after processing the photos using PhotoScan.

Photogrammetry results

Photogrammetry results

This is a close-up of Box 8A, showing how useful photogrammetry can be in helping us to see more than we might be able to see with conventional photographs. There is some 3D geometry to this, which is hard to see in a static screenshot.

A photogrammetry model of Box 8A

A photogrammetry model of Box 8A

Dan has also been digitising the section drawings that our students and volunteers made in the final week on site.
This screenshot shows the partially digitised drawings of sections 01 and 02, using a piece of software called AutoCAD.
Section 1-2 in progress

Section 1-2 in progress

We can’t wait to see the rest of the results, Dan!


Filed under: Dan Joyce, Dan Joyce, Digital Methods, Recording Methodology, Student Research Post, Summer Excavation Tagged: AutoCAD, building survey, Civil3D, context records, digitisation, Esri, Geophysical, Lidar, Map3D, Ordnance Survey, photogrammetry, photos, section drawings, sections, Topographical

Using Software to Synthesise Data

Dan has put together a few screenshots of some of the awesome things that he has been doing as part of his dissertation work for the Masters in Archaeological Computing. Dan’s dissertation topic is: How can modern computer software be used to create a comprehensive synthesis of information gained from archaeological sites, and what can […]

Dan has put together a few screenshots of some of the awesome things that he has been doing as part of his dissertation work for the Masters in Archaeological Computing.

Dan’s dissertation topic is:

How can modern computer software be used to create a comprehensive synthesis of information gained from archaeological sites, and what can be gained from this approach?

In Dan’s own words:

“I am seeing how possible it is to integrate data from Topographical, Geophysical and Building Survey, Old Excavation Data (in the form of paper and permatrace records as well as photographs), Digital Excavation Data (in the form of Total Station context recording, digitised section drawings, and context records in a database), photogrammetry data, Lidar data and Ordnance Survey data within a different software solutions. i.e Esri ArcGIS, AutoCAD Civil 3D and Map 3D.”

This photo shows Peter and Gareth using the makeshift ‘pole-camera’ to take a series of photographs of the trench that Dan has stitched together using PhotoScan.

Nicole, Peter and Gareth using the 'pole-camera'

Chris, Peter and Gareth using the ‘pole-camera’

Photogrammetry results after processing the photos using PhotoScan.

Photogrammetry results

Photogrammetry results

This is a close-up of Box 8A, showing how useful photogrammetry can be in helping us to see more than we might be able to see with conventional photographs. There is some 3D geometry to this, which is hard to see in a static screenshot.

A photogrammetry model of Box 8A

A photogrammetry model of Box 8A

Dan has also been digitising the section drawings that our students and volunteers made in the final week on site.
This screenshot shows the partially digitised drawings of sections 01 and 02, using a piece of software called AutoCAD.
Section 1-2 in progress

Section 1-2 in progress

We can’t wait to see the rest of the results, Dan!


Filed under: Dan Joyce, Dan Joyce, Digital Methods, Recording Methodology, Student Research Post, Summer Excavation Tagged: AutoCAD, building survey, Civil3D, context records, digitisation, Esri, Geophysical, Lidar, Map3D, Ordnance Survey, photogrammetry, photos, section drawings, sections, Topographical

Guest Blog: Clare Allen – The Defensive Role of Basing House and its Environs

Student Basingstoke Common Survey Project We’re very happy to share the details of another fantastic project that will be happening at the same time as our dig. Postgraduate student, Clare Allen, will be working at Basing House for the duration of the excavation, to investigate the surrounding landscape of the Civil War period of the […]

Clare Allen

Clare Allen

Student Basingstoke Common Survey Project

We’re very happy to share the details of another fantastic project that will be happening at the same time as our dig.

Postgraduate student, Clare Allen, will be working at Basing House for the duration of the excavation, to investigate the surrounding landscape of the Civil War period of the site. Clare has written a guest blog post below about her plans.

Look out for Clare on Basingstoke Common when you come to visit us at the excavation!

Introducing Clare

My name is Clare and I’m a Masters student from the University of Southampton. I am carrying out my MSc in Archaeological Survey and Landscape. Consequently, this has led me to become interested in the application of geophysical survey techniques and how they can aid our archaeological and historical understanding of complex sites  such as Basing House.

Project Description

The purpose of my thesis is to understand the defensive role of Basing House through the application of Geophysics on Basingstoke Common. The main aims are to gain a greater understanding of the site within the broader landscape by examining the defensive features in the immediate area surrounding the grounds (Basingstoke Common).

It has been suggested that Basing House was ‘the scene of one of the most stirring acts of defiance that the country of Hampshire has ever known’ (Allen et al, 1999: vi).

Due to its defensive structures and location it was able to withstand defeat for three years, undergoing countless attacks.

Methodology

Through the use of magnetometry and potentially resistivity, I hope to discover some magnetic anomalies that will aid our understanding of Basing House and the defensive role it has played throughout its existence. The site will be divided into 30m by 30m grids expanding southwards down the common.

Once the gridding is complete the following geophysical techniques and methods implemented:

  1. Magnetometry survey using two Bartington Instrument, Grad 601 dual sensor fluxgate gradiometers. The magnetometry survey will be carried out at 0.25m intervals along traverses spaced 0.5m apart.
  2. Resistance survey will hopefully be undertaken using a Geoscan Research RM15 resistance meter, to 0.1 Ohm. Readings will be taken at 0.5m intervals along traverses spaced 0.5m apart in order to gain a higher resolution of results. If time allows it will be useful to get some grids covered with the resistance meter. On the areas that are showing magnetic anomalies, it would be useful to use the two techniques in conjunction with each other to build a greater comprehension of the site.
Figure 1: Shows the fluxgate gradiometer being used during the spring survey season by the University of Southampton.

Figure 1: Shows the fluxgate gradiometer being used during the spring survey season by the University of Southampton.

Once the data has been collected and processed I will be able to generate a series of digitised overlays in order to interpret the features that are appearing. In conjunction with the excavation season taking place from 22nd July – 11th August, more interesting information about the history Basing House should emerge.

Figure 2: Planned survey area [Area A indicating the first area to be surveyed, which will extend westwards into survey area B].

Figure 2: Planned survey area [Area A indicating the first area to be surveyed, which will extend westwards into survey area B].

 


Filed under: Clare Allen, Student Research Post, Summer Excavation Tagged: basingstoke common, clare-allen, common, defensive role, fluxgate gradiometer, geophysics, geoscan, magnetometry, postgraduate, research, resistivity, survey, surveying

Guest Blog: Will Heard – Spring 2013 Survey Results Part 2

Last week we published a guest post from Will Heard, as a summary of the Spring Survey that the University of Southampton students carried out this April-May. Here is Will’s second and final blog post about the survey results. Thanks again to Will! — Basing House Spring Survey Part 2 by Will Heard, 2013 Will […]

Last week we published a guest post from Will Heard, as a summary of the Spring Survey that the University of Southampton students carried out this April-May. Here is Will’s second and final blog post about the survey results.

Will Heard

Will Heard

Thanks again to Will!

Basing House Spring Survey Part 2

by Will Heard, 2013
Will is a third year undergraduate student, with interests in survey, geophysics and the use of computers for archaeological purposes. He is interested in any period of history, having worked at Basing House and on a Bronze Age site amongst others.  He is currently working on his undergraduate dissertation, which aims to use GIS systems to reveal the theoretical effectiveness against invasion of a small section of the World War II G.H.Q Line in Essex.

The Motte Resistivity Survey

Figure 2 shows the resistivity plot of part of the Motte interior with notable features enclosed in coloured lines. The bottom left high resistivity feature is most probably related to the still accessible cellar, which can be seen as a large depression on the contours.

The  high resistivity feature at the far bottom of the image has no associated topographic evidence, but it is situated in a position that may suggest it is a continuation of the feature running parallel to the cellar. If this is so, then the high resistivity feature next to the cellar may not be directly related to  it after all. The other most interesting feature is the slight low resistance feature highlighted in green, which represents a dip on the topographic model. The ground raises up to a point which is a well (circled white in Figure 3). The presence of the well leads to the assumption that this area was some sort of courtyard or open air space. This is supported by Peer’s plan of his excavations (Figure 1).

Figure 1 - Plan of the Old House as excavated by Peers. After (Royal Archaeological Institute 1924: 362).

Figure 1 – Plan of the Old House as excavated by Peers. After (Royal Archaeological Institute 1924: 362).

Figure 2 - Resistivity Survey of part of the motte interior. Notable features are enclosed by coloured lines. Negative ohm values caused by the high pass filter. Contours from a raster. ArcGIS 10.1.

Figure 2 – Resistivity Survey of part of the motte interior. Notable features are enclosed by coloured lines. Negative ohm values caused by the high pass filter. Contours from a raster. ArcGIS 10.1.

Figure 3  - Motte interior resistivity draped over the 3D TIN surface. From the north. Light from the east at 45 degrees. Vertical exaggeration at 1.5.

Figure 3 – Motte interior resistivity draped over the 3D TIN surface. From the north. Light from the east at 45 degrees. Vertical exaggeration at 1.5.

The New House Resistivity Survey

The New House site was the largest of the three areas surveyed with Resistivity and has a lot of strong features. The most obvious features are the straight lines along the entire left side of Figure 13. These are undoubtedly buried foundations of the raised New House.

The circular anomalies are towers of the sort seen in Hollar’s drawing (see Figure 15). The strength of these anomalies suggests excellent preservation and indeed, an excavation uncovered some of these remains and did not fully fill in the trenches. The resulting depression in the topography can be seen in the foreground of Figure 14.

The very low (white) anomalies in the same area are possibly caused by a slow build-up of moist, humic soils in the unfilled excavation trenches. Given the aforementioned evidence, it appears unlikely the anomalies are of historical origin. However, further south in Figure 13, some of the unexcavated strong circular anomalies enclose areas of extremely low resistance. These may be the result of filled sunken floors, or quarrying straight after the final Civil War siege.

Another area of interest is on the right of Figure 13, which is circled by a green line. This area is highly variable, with pixels of very high and low resistance and it is unclear what these readings represent. More areas of interest include the horizontal line feature and various other patches of high resistance in Figure 13.

Figure 4 - Resistivity Survey of the New House area. Notable features are enclosed by coloured lines. Negative ohm values caused by the high pass filter. Contours from a raster. ArcGIS 10.1.

Figure 4 – Resistivity Survey of the New House area. Notable features are enclosed by coloured lines. Negative ohm values caused by the high pass filter. Contours from a raster. ArcGIS 10.1.

Figure 5 - New House resistivity plot draped over the 3D TIN. Red lines show features with associated topographic variations. From the north. Light from the east at 45 degrees. Vertical exaggeration at 1.5. ArcGIS 10.1.

Figure 5 – New House resistivity plot draped over the 3D TIN. Red lines show features with associated topographic variations. From the north. Light from the east at 45 degrees. Vertical exaggeration at 1.5. ArcGIS 10.1.

Figure 6 - Wenceslaus Hollar's 'The Siege of Basing House'. The text reads 'A THE OLD HOUSE. B. THE NEW. C. THE TOWER THAT IS HALFE BATTERED DOWN. D. KINGS BREASTWORKS. E. PARLAMENTS BREASTWORKS' [sic]. After (Wikipedia 2013)

Figure 6 – Wenceslaus Hollar’s ‘The Siege of Basing House’. The text reads ‘A THE OLD HOUSE. B. THE NEW. C. THE TOWER THAT IS HALFE BATTERED DOWN. D. KINGS BREASTWORKS. E. PARLAMENTS BREASTWORKS’ [sic]. After (Wikipedia 2013)

Everyone was very pleased with how the survey went, despite some bitterly cold days and an afternoon of menacing weather in the first week. I hope that these highlights from the data illustrate just what can be done with all the data we gathered although someone more savvy with the computer software could do things much more impressive than this. Various sub-surface features were linked to surface features observable on the topographic model.  Some of these were easily dated thanks to their close proximity to known quantities, like the New House, while others were less easily identifiable. The lack of confident dates on numerous features is a reason for more work, especially excavation, on site in the future. Lastly, I would personally encourage anybody who has not been before, to go and see this great site.

References

(1924). Proceedings at Meetings of the Royal Archaeological Institute. The Archaeological Journal 81. Royal Archaeological Institute. 315-380. (Basing House pp. 359-364).

English Heritage (last updated 2004). National Monuments Record, Basing House. at: http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archsearch/record.jsf?titleId=1033242; 27 Feb. 2013.

English Heritage. (2007a). Pastscape, Basing House at: http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=240444; 01 May 2013.

Wikipedia. (2013). Wenesclaus Hollar – The Siege of Basing House at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wenceslaus_Hollar_-_The_Siege_of_Basing_House.jpg; 6 Mar 2013.

Wikipedia. (2013). Launceston Castle at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Launceston_Castle_-_geograph.org.uk_-_22242.jpg; 12 Jul 13


Filed under: Spring Survey, Student Research Post, Will Heard Tagged: building survey, gpr, gps, ground penetrating radar, leica, magnetic susceptibility, magnetometry, new house, old house, resistance survey, resistivity, survey, surveying, topographic, total station, undergraduate

Guest Blog: Will Heard – Spring 2013 Survey Results Part 1

As part of the Spring Survey that the University of Southampton students carried out this April-May, undergraduate Archaeology students who attended the fieldwork were asked to write a report summarising the survey data. One of the students that attended the Spring Survey, Will Heard, has written a summary of his report, and has kindly allowed […]

As part of the Spring Survey that the University of Southampton students carried out this April-May, undergraduate Archaeology students who attended the fieldwork were asked to write a report summarising the survey data.

One of the students that attended the Spring Survey, Will Heard, has written a summary of his report, and has kindly allowed us to share it with our readers. Will has written so much, that we’re sharing part 1 this week, and part 2 next week!

Thanks Will!

Basing House Spring Survey Part 1

Will Heard

Will Heard

by Will Heard, 2013
Will is a third year undergraduate student, with interests in survey, geophysics and the use of computers for archaeological purposes. He is interested in any period of history, having worked at Basing House and on a Bronze Age site amongst others.  He is currently working on his undergraduate dissertation, which aims to use GIS systems to reveal the theoretical effectiveness against invasion of a small section of the World War II G.H.Q Line in Essex.

Survey Summary

During March and April 2013 a topographic and geophysical survey was undertaken at Basing House by University of Southampton staff and students. Most of the topographic survey was carried out in week one between the 18th and 22nd March, while all of the geophysical survey was carried out in week two, between the 8th and 12th April. The work aimed to further the understanding of the sites layout and history by providing a computer model which will allow more detailed analysis of the landscape, and possibly help us see things our naked eyes cannot. The model will consolidate much of the smaller scale on site investigation (excavations, geophysics) which have been carried out and documented in the past. Similarly, future work of all types will be able to use the model to add onto a coherent body of knowledge. The geophysical and building survey, which was carried out alongside the topographic work, will add to this body of knowledge on Basing House.

Introducing the Site

The area has a long history with the earliest known finds dating from the Mesolithic era, although this occupation is not currently seen as continuing, since Neolithic remains are rare to nonexistent on the site (English Heritage 2004). Bronze Age flint, as well as Iron Age and Roman ceramics have also been recovered (English Heritage 2004). The most discussed period of the sites history starts in the Medieval period, with the construction of the Motte and Bailey castle (see central round and plateau like feature in figure 1) and later the Old and New Houses (inside and to the east of the motte in figure 1). The Motte and Bailey were erected sometime in the twelfth century AD and the Old and New Houses erected one after the other in the sixteenth century AD. The New House merited its own earthworks to the east of the Motte and Bailey and later, semi-circular Civil War gun platforms were added onto the earlier Medieval outer bank to the south. After the Civil War the houses were demolished, with much of the stonework taken and used in the nearby village. Other features include a dry and filled in part of the eighteenth century Basingstoke Canal (north edge of figure 1).

Figure 1 - OS Map data with a polygon overlaid (red line). The polygon represents the extent of the area surveyed topographically. ArcGIS 10.1. © Crown Copyright/database right 2013. An Ordnance Survey/EDINA supplied service.

Figure 1 – OS Map data with a polygon overlaid (red line). The polygon represents the extent of the area surveyed topographically. ArcGIS 10.1.
© Crown Copyright/database right 2013. An Ordnance Survey/EDINA supplied service.

Below, figure 2 shows the areas that were surveyed with resistivity equipment. The contours in this figure are derived from a raster.

Figure 2 - The area surveyed with resistivity equipment (contours derived from a raster). ArcGIS 10.1. © Crown Copyright/database right 2013. An Ordnance Survey/EDINA supplied service.

Figure 2 – The area surveyed with resistivity equipment (contours derived from a raster). ArcGIS 10.1.
© Crown Copyright/database right 2013. An Ordnance Survey/EDINA supplied service.

Since the survey produced one continuous area of data (see figure 3 and figure 4 below), the following pictures have some degree of overlap. The area has been split into four areas: A, B, C and D. The topographic areas B and C are the highlights included in this week’s blog post. In terms of the resistivity survey, the highlights were the Motte interior survey and the New House site survey.

Figure 3 - Basing House complete TIN with features overlain. ArcGIS 10.1

Figure 3 – Basing House complete TIN with features overlain. ArcGIS 10.1

Figure 4 - Basing House complete Raster with features overlain. ArcGIS 10.1

Figure 4 – Basing House complete Raster with features overlain. ArcGIS 10.1

Area B

Area B is the southernmost area surveyed and has the highest general elevation of any of this report’s areas. It comprises what is thought to be a long semi-circular bank that was possibly constructed at a similar time to the Motte and Bailey, as well as three Civil War raised gun platforms (English Heritage 2007a). These are clearly visible on the ground and are highlighted in figure 5. It is possible that the fact the three gun platforms are attached to the bank means that the bank was constructed earlier, since a connecting bank between Civil War gun platforms would not always be necessary. In the Civil War, the bank would have provided good cover against bombardment or assault from the south and so adding gun platforms to an already good fortification was the logical course of action. At points the ditch protecting the bank is deeper, for example at the westernmost end. Towards the southern end the ditch becomes very shallow. This variation is probably due to the natural topography, which gets higher as one goes further south on our model, this variation is highlighted in figure 6 below.

Figure 5 -  Area B TIN and Raster. ArcGIS 10.1.

Figure 5 – Area B TIN and Raster. ArcGIS 10.1.

Figure 6 - Area B 3D TIN with features added. From the east. Light from the east at 45 degrees. Vertical exaggeration at 1.5. ArcGIS 10.1.

Figure 6 – Area B 3D TIN with features added. From the east. Light from the east at 45 degrees. Vertical exaggeration at 1.5. ArcGIS 10.1.

Area C

Area C is the centre of the topographic survey area and comprises the Motte, Bailey and their respective ditches. The elevation of this area is generally quite high, while being lower than Area B (see figures 7 and 8 below).

Figure 7 - Area C TIN and Raster. ArcGIS 10.1.

Figure 7 – Area C TIN and Raster. ArcGIS 10.1.

Figure 8 - Area C 3D TIN with features added. From the west. Light coming from the east at 45 degrees. Vertical exaggeration at 1.5.

Figure 8 – Area C 3D TIN with features added. From the west. Light coming from the east at 45 degrees. Vertical exaggeration at 1.5.

The Motte and Bailey ditches are very deep, survive very well and show very nicely on the topographic models. All of the surviving cellars inside the motte lend support to Peer’s plan (figure 9 below).

Figure 9 - Plan of the Old House as excavated by Peers. After (Royal Archaeological Institute 1924: 362).

Figure 9 – Plan of the Old House as excavated by Peers.
After (Royal Archaeological Institute 1924: 362).

The variations on the east side of the bailey are caused by a previous excavation that was carried out before a bridge over the ditch was constructed. The yellow line (north side of figure 8 above) represents a raised piece of ground and is the location of a large tree.

The topographic model shows the Motte being higher than the Bailey. This is to be expected, both because the land naturally goes down northwards, but also because the Motte was where the Lord would have resided.

The form of the Motte and Bailey is very similar to other examples like Launceston Castle (figure 10 below).

Figure 10 - Launceston Castle. In size, it is smaller than Basing House. However, its Motte and Bailey design is similar. After (Wikipedia 2013)

Figure 10 – Launceston Castle. In size, it is smaller than Basing House. However, its Motte and Bailey design is similar.
After (Wikipedia 2013)

References

Anon. (1924). Proceedings at Meetings of the Royal Archaeological Institute. The Archaeological Journal 81. Royal Archaeological Institute. 315-380. (Basing House pp. 359-364).

English Heritage (last updated 2004). National Monuments Record, Basing House. at: http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archsearch/record.jsf?titleId=1033242; 27 Feb. 2013.

English Heritage. (2007a). Pastscape, Basing House at: http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=240444; 01 May 2013.

Wikipedia. (2013). Wenesclaus Hollar – The Siege of Basing House at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wenceslaus_Hollar_-_The_Siege_of_Basing_House.jpg; 6 Mar 2013.

Wikipedia. (2013). Launceston Castle at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Launceston_Castle_-_geograph.org.uk_-_22242.jpg; 12 Jul 13

Next Week: Part 2

In the next post, we’ll look at the results from the Motte resistivity survey and the New House resistivity survey.


Filed under: Spring Survey, Student Research Post, Will Heard Tagged: building survey, gpr, gps, ground penetrating radar, magnetic susceptibility, magnetometry, new house, old house, resistance survey, resistivity, survey, topographic, total station, undergraduate, will-heard