Integrating Types of Archaeological Data – Dan’s Major Project

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Dan for writing this post. 

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

Dissertation on the integration of digital archaeological data

Introduction

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

Topographical and building survey integration

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

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

Figure 1 – Total station building survey of manorial barn

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

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

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

Geophysical survey integration

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

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

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

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

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

Lidar data

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

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

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

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

3D visualisation of existing archaeological data

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

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

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

Figure 10 – Digitised section with context information

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

Figure 11 – Digitised section with ARK database record

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

Photogrammetry

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

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

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

Figure 13 – Photogrammetry model of Box 8A

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

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

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

Figure 15 – Elevated photography on a pole being undertaken

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

Figure 16 – Photogrammetry model of the 2013 excavations

3D contexts

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

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

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

Figure 18 – Wireframe 3D context

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

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

Integration of total station excavation data

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

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

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

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

Conclusions

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

Blog post by Dan Joyce


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

LiDAR Data Processing for Basing House

Dan Joyce used Basing House for his major case study last year when studying for a Masters in Archaeological Computing. Dan has written some posts for us that summarise his research. This is the first in a series of posts about his work.  Thanks to Dan for taking time out to write these posts for […]

Dan Joyce used Basing House for his major case study last year when studying for a Masters in Archaeological Computing. Dan has written some posts for us that summarise his research. This is the first in a series of posts about his work. 

Thanks to Dan for taking time out to write these posts for us!

Basing House LiDAR data processing

– Dan Joyce

Airborne LiDAR (Light detection and ranging) involves the firing of a pulsed laser beam from an aircraft towards the ground, the lidar instrument being located spatially with a Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Internal Measurement Unit (IMU) in the aircraft. By recording the time it takes for each pulse to return to travel to the ground and back the location of a point on the ground can be accurately recorded to within a few centimetres. The laser records points at 2m intervals or less.

LiDAR allows the mapping of whole landscapes by providing accurate three-dimensional measurements of the ground surface. It has been used in archaeology to identify features not known before including those under tree cover, thanks to some of the beams passing through gaps in the canopy.

Some LiDAR data of Basing House and its surrounding area was procured from the Environment Department https://www.geomatics-group.co.uk/geocms/ prior to the 2013 excavations of the site in order to experiment with this useful resource.

I will be concentrating on the common ground to the south and east of the main site for this exercise. As can be seen in figure 1 the LiDAR data before processing doesn’t show very much.

N.B. The figures below all link to larger, high resolution versions of the images. 

Raw LiDAR Data

Figure 1 – Raw LiDAR Data

Much like one of the techniques associated with the identification of archaeological elements from aerial photography, the use of oblique lighting is important in the analysis of lidar data, with changes in ground level caused by the archaeology being identified by the shadows that they cast.

The oblique lighting used in analysing lidar data however is artificially created by a computer program producing the same results as in aerial photography. This process is called hill-shading and the azimuth and elevation angle can be set within the relevant computer program, whether GIS (Geographic Information System) or other software. The elevation can also be exaggerated increasing the visibility of archaeological features.

LiDAR Data with Hillshade

Figure 2 shows LiDAR data with a hill-shade applied, as can be seen a number of interesting features can be seen in the data of the common.

Figure 2 – LiDAR Data with Hillshade.

Although very useful the problem with this process is that if a feature is facing into the direction of illumination it casts no shadow and so doesn’t appear in the visualisation. This can be solved by creating multiple hill-shaded images from different directions, these can be combined to provide a visualisation with the data from all of the different hill-shades visible. This is done by altering the transparency of the different layers so that the data shows through. The different hill-shaded images can be colourised to show up the different elements more clearly.

LiDAR Data with Multiple Hillshades

As can be seen in figure 3, hill-shaded images from multiple angles bring out features that are not visible with a single illumination direction.

Figure 3 – LiDAR Data with Multiple Hillshades.

LiDAR Data with Multiple Hillshades plus Principal Component Analysis

A final process that was run is principal component analysis (PCA), this is where a single composite image composed of a number of hill-shaded images is created. As can be seen in figure 4 all of the features visible on the common are made much clearer by this process suggesting that some very interesting archaeology is present.

Figure 4 – LiDAR Data with Multiple Hillshades and with Principal Component Analysis (PCA).

As can be seen from the results a great deal of information can be gleaned from this process adding to what is already known about the site, in combination with the geophysical survey undertaken in the same area. A number of other processes can be run on lidar data to enhance what its visible but none of them worked any better than those I used here.

The software used for this blog was the ‘Relief Visualization Toolbox’ available from the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRCSAZU) website: http://iaps.zrc-sazu.si/index.php?q=en/svf#v

Further information about the use of LiDAR in Archaeology can be gained from the English Heritage publication “The Light Fantastic – Using airborne LiDAR in archaeological survey” available in .pdf format from their website – http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/professional/research/landscapes-and-areas/aerial-survey/archaeology/lidar/.


Filed under: Dan Joyce, Data Processing, Digital Methods, Summer Excavation Tagged: basingstoke common, data processing, digital methods, hillshades, Lidar

Interim Report 2013 – Geophysical Survey

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

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

The authors are:

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

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

Part 3 – Geophysical Survey

– By Kristian Strutt and Clare Allen

The summer season of survey work was undertaken on Basingstoke Common, using GPS and Magnetometry. This survey work was part of an MSc dissertation and aimed to develop on the spring season of survey work. The main aim of the research was to examine the potential archaeology on the common and to assess the nature of these features through the use of geophysical survey. Using interpretation from previous survey results, an examination of aerial photographs and an analysis of the historical background of Basing House; the methodological approach to the survey was to use magnetometry. It was apparent that this technique would be suited to the potential nature of archaeology existing on the common. The site complex demonstrates a palimpsest of archaeology from prehistory to the English Civil War and 20th century wartime defences. With this in mind, it was possible to examine the defensive role of Basing House and its environs.

Magnetometer survey was carried out using a Bartington Instruments Grad 601 dual sensor fluxgate gradiometer. Readings were taken at 0.25m intervals along the traverses, with traverses spaced at 0.5m intervals. This technique was used to survey the site grounds and Basingstoke Common. This technique seemed most suited to both the environmental conditions and the potential nature of the archaeology at Basing House.

The results of the survey (see figures 2 and 3 below) indicated a number of archaeological features associated with the prehistoric, Civil War and 20th century defensive archaeology of the site. A ditch feature associated with the prehistoric or medieval settlement of the ridge is visible enclosing part of the common, running into the curtilage of Basing House and being cut by the Civil War defences. The half-moon earthworks of the Royalist defences show clearly in the magnetometry, including the ditch and possible remains of the palisades. The possible location of Parliamentarian siegeworks close to the site are, however, more difficult to trace. It is possible that the siegeworks are located along the line of the present hedgerow and fenceline, less than 30m from the defences of Basing House. The results of the survey did reveal the line of a substantial World War II anti-tank ditch, running from north-east to south-west across the common. This evidence is supported by air photographic evidence from the 1940s, indicating the defensive role of Basing House in the landscape surrounding the River Loddon. There remains scope for future geophysical survey at the site across the common and in areas surrounding Basing village, to help the team understand the buried archaeological deposits associated with Basing House.

You can click on the figures below to go to the Flickr page for the image, where larger versions are available.

This map shows the magnetometry survey areas from Basing House. Figure by K. Strutt and C. Allen, 2013.

Figure 2 – This map shows the magnetometry survey areas from Basing House. Figure by K. Strutt and C. Allen, 2013.

This map shows the magnetometry results from Basingstoke Common. Figure by K. Strutt and C. Allen, 2013.

Figure 3 – This map shows the magnetometry results from Basingstoke Common. Figure by K. Strutt and C. Allen, 2013.

References

Allen, D., S. Anderson, 1999. Basing House, Hampshire. Excavations 1978-1991, Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society Monograph Series

Combley, R.C., J. W. Notman, H. H. M. Pike, 1964. Further Excavations at Basing House, 1964-66.  Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club. 23: 96-105

Peers, C., Sir. 1909. On the Excavation of the Site of Basing House, Hampshire. Archaeologia, Miscellaneous Tracts relating to Antiquity. London: Society of Antiquaries 61: 553-564

Read the previous posts of this Interim Report:

– Introduction and Recording Methodology

– Finds


Filed under: Clare Allen, Geophysical Survey, Interim Report 2013, Kris Strutt, Magnetometry Survey, Spring Survey, Summer Excavation Tagged: 1940s, aerial photographs, anti-tank ditch, Bartington Instruments, basingstoke common, defenses, earthworks, gps, gradiometer, half-moon, interim report, magnetometry, Old Basing, palisades, river Loddon, survey, total station survey, World War II

Interim Report 2013 – Finds

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

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

The authors are:

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

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

Part 2 – Finds

– By Jude Jones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the previous post of this Interim Report:

– Introduction and Recording Methodology

Read the next post of this Interim Report:

– Geophysical Survey


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

Interim Report 2013 – Introduction

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

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

The authors are:

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

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

Investigating Earlier Excavations

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

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

University of Southampton and Hampshire County Council Excavations

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

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

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

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

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

Recording Methodology

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

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

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

Read the next two posts of this Interim Report:

– Finds

– Geophysical Survey

 


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

Last Year’s Finds and their Finders – Jude Jones

Jude Jones, our Finds Specialist, has written this fantastic post about the finds of 2013 and their finders.  Thanks Jude! Last Year’s Finds and their Finders On first viewing the Bothy,  I said to Gareth and Nicole Beale, our University of Southampton site directors, that one of the things a finds co-ordinator gets really excited […]

Jude Jones, our Finds Specialist, has written this fantastic post about the finds of 2013 and their finders. 

Thanks Jude!

Last Year’s Finds and their Finders

On first viewing the Bothy,  I said to Gareth and Nicole Beale, our University of Southampton site directors, that one of the things a finds co-ordinator gets really excited about is a good finds hut. We’re supremely blessed at Basing House with the Bothy which is, in effect, a small cottage with its own back garden. Inside it’s equipped with electricity, running water, kettles and not one but two fridges! This is fantastic compared with the usual leaky finds tent set in the middle of a field with no water sources to be found for miles. Here at Basing we can wash, clean and dry finds prior to their analysis and the Bothy allows us to set up spot-lighting, cameras, microscopes, laptops and all the other paraphernalia of a proper lab so that we can even do a little post-excavation work on them before the season ends – luxury!

Dave Allen showing a freshly dug Roman tesserae, shortly on its way to Jude and her team at the Finds Hut.

Finds drying in the sunshine after gentle washing by Jude and her team.

Last year was the Southampton contingent’s first encounter with the site and our archaeology students worked side by side, not only with members of staff from our department, Dr Yvonne Marshall, Christina Triantafillou and  Penny Copeland but also with several members of the Basing House Archaeological and Historical Society whose previous experience both at Basing House and elsewhere proved invaluable. For many of the first year students who had not excavated before, the first week was rather back-breaking as they were digging through the infilled spoil of a series of 1963-4 box trenches in order to review the archaeology and get a better idea of the Roman and Iron Age occupation the 1960s seasons had found.

Jude looking at a Roman coin with Lizzie.

Finds from the spoil were accordingly either residual or evidence of much more recent activity. We started to get quite excited when a few sherds of what seemed to be a 17th century slip-ware mug appeared amongst the Carling Black Label cans and Fanta bottles but the freshness of the sherds, their lack of abrasion and a sober assessment by Dave Allen, our third director and the Hampshire Museum Services Keeper of Archaeology, that the mug was not what it seemed soon dispelled any illusions. The Sealed Knot – the well-known Civil War re-enactment society – had been frequent visitors to Basing House in the past and their passion for recreating all things 17th century was likely to be the cause of this mug’s appearance amidst the rest of the 20th century litter.

Upon cleaning it was apparent that this ‘slipware mug’ was not what we have originally hoped!

A latter day Royalist or Parliamentarian had broken their mug and thrown it into the insufficiently filled-in hole left after the 1960s diggers had packed up and gone home. This was confirmed soon after when the rest of the mug surfaced and a potter’s mark was discovered on its base.  Alan Turton, Dave’s colleague, Civil War expert and the retired director of Basing House was visiting at the time.  ‘Ah,’ he said to Dave, on being shown it, ‘Spike made that!’ Their friend Spike, a member of the Sealed Knot and a professional potter, specialised in selling replicas of 17th century slipware vessels and this was undoubtedly one of them.

Spike’s stamp can be seen in the very centre of this image.

Nearly all of the finds drying in this tray are modern replicas of artefacts. In this context, there was a modern blue and white china teapot mixed up with a ‘Victorian’ pipe and some ‘Roman’ tile.

Carling Black Label can from the 1980s. Even very modern finds can tell us about the history of a site!

Oddly enough, this story helped to bring home to us the reality of the past. Just as many archaeologists get a thrill when they dig up something which no one has handled for centuries, so it evoked the continuing archaeology of the site. Three centuries and more after the Civil War sieges which had laid waste John Paulet’s magnificent great house the battles were still being remembered and restaged and those involved were likewise leaving behind the unwanted rubbish which signalled their presence and their passing. Memory is continually being reiterated and kept alive in this way through these small discarded fragments.

In spite of their great diagnostic, classificatory and historical use, initially finds can sometimes appear to be of somewhat subsidiary importance when a dig is in progress. Not unnaturally, excavators get caught up in the constant streams of analysis which trenches produce when exciting features appear. At this point, finds, especially things like pottery and coins, are used primarily as dating indicators. This changes as soon as they get back to the finds hut. Here even the simple act of cleaning a find can suddenly awaken an intense interest in deciphering the puzzle of what it is and how it fits into the site’s archaeology.

Ed and Alina clean finds under Jude’s supervision.

Miriam, cleaning and marking a tile sherd.

In 2013 we were fortunate to have contingents of students and volunteers, all of whom were happy to be inducted into the mysteries of finds processing and recording and were later introduced to some of the post-excavation techniques which we were able to apply as a result of the Bothy’s facilities.

Gareth working with students to laser scan the corbels in the Bothy (Finds Hut).

Nicole and Gareth set up the equipment necessary to carry out Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) – a photographic process which allows a near microscopic and all-round directional analysis of the surfaces of finds. At this point an object’s minutest details, its use-wear, construction, tools marks etc instantly become visible from all sides. We used it to study the surfaces of the five Roman coins we found towards the end of the dig and as a result several students were enthralled by its possibilities. One of them, Vicky Man, may even use it as a central research tool for her undergraduate dissertation. Phoebe has written about the RTI of one of the coins here: http://basinghouseproject.org/2013/08/05/day-10-coin-phoebe/

Jude carefully cleaning one of the Roman coins, ready for RTI recording.

RTI of one of the Roman coins. Can you read it?

We were also lucky enough to be given a post-excavation conservation workshop by Claire Woodhead of Hampshire Museum Services Conservation Laboratory. This continued the story of what happens to finds once they are subjected to the more complex scientific analyses which reveal their significance. Claire’s accounts of the various proceedings which are applied to the many different categories of finds were crucially instrumental in completing our overview and experience of the finds process from A-Z.

Lastly, a small boast and a profound vote of thanks to Alice Millard: we very nearly managed to put the entire collection of finds on to a database by the end of the dig!

Vicky and Alice RTIing a coin.

Alice, a dab hand with laptop and finds bag, soldiered womanfully on in our last week and entered practically all the objects, washed, dried, studied, labelled, bagged, described and categorised – no mean feat and a task which is usually left to the weeks after a season has finished. My heartfelt thanks also go to all the students and volunteers who assisted me in undertaking all of the above activities and helped to make the Bothy such a cheerful place – even when invaded by swarms of thirsty diggers requiring tea and coffee and demanding to know who had eaten all the biscuits!

– Jude Jones

For more detailed info on the finds themselves see the Interim Report 2013, which will be online here very soon.


Filed under: Archaeology of Archaeology, Finds, Interim Report 2013, Jude Jones, Summer Excavation Tagged: 1960s, Alan Turton, biscuits, Bothy, box trenches, coin, conservation, English Civil War Society, finds, Iron Age, mug, parliamentarian, paulet, roman, royalist, rti, rubbish, Sealed Knot, sieges, slip-ware, spoil, tool marks, use-wear

Last Year’s Finds and their Finders – Jude Jones

Jude Jones, our Finds Specialist, has written this fantastic post about the finds of 2013 and their finders.  Thanks Jude! Last Year’s Finds and their Finders On first viewing the Bothy,  I said to Gareth and Nicole Beale, our University of Southampton site directors, that one of the things a finds co-ordinator gets really excited […]

Jude Jones, our Finds Specialist, has written this fantastic post about the finds of 2013 and their finders. 

Thanks Jude!

Last Year’s Finds and their Finders

On first viewing the Bothy,  I said to Gareth and Nicole Beale, our University of Southampton site directors, that one of the things a finds co-ordinator gets really excited about is a good finds hut. We’re supremely blessed at Basing House with the Bothy which is, in effect, a small cottage with its own back garden. Inside it’s equipped with electricity, running water, kettles and not one but two fridges! This is fantastic compared with the usual leaky finds tent set in the middle of a field with no water sources to be found for miles. Here at Basing we can wash, clean and dry finds prior to their analysis and the Bothy allows us to set up spot-lighting, cameras, microscopes, laptops and all the other paraphernalia of a proper lab so that we can even do a little post-excavation work on them before the season ends – luxury!

Dave Allen showing a freshly dug Roman tesserae, shortly on its way to Jude and her team at the Finds Hut.

Finds drying in the sunshine after gentle washing by Jude and her team.

Last year was the Southampton contingent’s first encounter with the site and our archaeology students worked side by side, not only with members of staff from our department, Dr Yvonne Marshall, Christina Triantafillou and  Penny Copeland but also with several members of the Basing House Archaeological and Historical Society whose previous experience both at Basing House and elsewhere proved invaluable. For many of the first year students who had not excavated before, the first week was rather back-breaking as they were digging through the infilled spoil of a series of 1963-4 box trenches in order to review the archaeology and get a better idea of the Roman and Iron Age occupation the 1960s seasons had found.

Jude looking at a Roman coin with Lizzie.

Finds from the spoil were accordingly either residual or evidence of much more recent activity. We started to get quite excited when a few sherds of what seemed to be a 17th century slip-ware mug appeared amongst the Carling Black Label cans and Fanta bottles but the freshness of the sherds, their lack of abrasion and a sober assessment by Dave Allen, our third director and the Hampshire Museum Services Keeper of Archaeology, that the mug was not what it seemed soon dispelled any illusions. The Sealed Knot – the well-known Civil War re-enactment society – had been frequent visitors to Basing House in the past and their passion for recreating all things 17th century was likely to be the cause of this mug’s appearance amidst the rest of the 20th century litter.

Upon cleaning it was apparent that this ‘slipware mug’ was not what we have originally hoped!

A latter day Royalist or Parliamentarian had broken their mug and thrown it into the insufficiently filled-in hole left after the 1960s diggers had packed up and gone home. This was confirmed soon after when the rest of the mug surfaced and a potter’s mark was discovered on its base.  Alan Turton, Dave’s colleague, Civil War expert and the retired director of Basing House was visiting at the time.  ‘Ah,’ he said to Dave, on being shown it, ‘Spike made that!’ Their friend Spike, a member of the Sealed Knot and a professional potter, specialised in selling replicas of 17th century slipware vessels and this was undoubtedly one of them.

Spike’s stamp can be seen in the very centre of this image.

Nearly all of the finds drying in this tray are modern replicas of artefacts. In this context, there was a modern blue and white china teapot mixed up with a ‘Victorian’ pipe and some ‘Roman’ tile.

Carling Black Label can from the 1980s. Even very modern finds can tell us about the history of a site!

Oddly enough, this story helped to bring home to us the reality of the past. Just as many archaeologists get a thrill when they dig up something which no one has handled for centuries, so it evoked the continuing archaeology of the site. Three centuries and more after the Civil War sieges which had laid waste John Paulet’s magnificent great house the battles were still being remembered and restaged and those involved were likewise leaving behind the unwanted rubbish which signalled their presence and their passing. Memory is continually being reiterated and kept alive in this way through these small discarded fragments.

In spite of their great diagnostic, classificatory and historical use, initially finds can sometimes appear to be of somewhat subsidiary importance when a dig is in progress. Not unnaturally, excavators get caught up in the constant streams of analysis which trenches produce when exciting features appear. At this point, finds, especially things like pottery and coins, are used primarily as dating indicators. This changes as soon as they get back to the finds hut. Here even the simple act of cleaning a find can suddenly awaken an intense interest in deciphering the puzzle of what it is and how it fits into the site’s archaeology.

Ed and Alina clean finds under Jude’s supervision.

Miriam, cleaning and marking a tile sherd.

In 2013 we were fortunate to have contingents of students and volunteers, all of whom were happy to be inducted into the mysteries of finds processing and recording and were later introduced to some of the post-excavation techniques which we were able to apply as a result of the Bothy’s facilities.

Gareth working with students to laser scan the corbels in the Bothy (Finds Hut).

Nicole and Gareth set up the equipment necessary to carry out Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) – a photographic process which allows a near microscopic and all-round directional analysis of the surfaces of finds. At this point an object’s minutest details, its use-wear, construction, tools marks etc instantly become visible from all sides. We used it to study the surfaces of the five Roman coins we found towards the end of the dig and as a result several students were enthralled by its possibilities. One of them, Vicky Man, may even use it as a central research tool for her undergraduate dissertation. Phoebe has written about the RTI of one of the coins here: http://basinghouseproject.org/2013/08/05/day-10-coin-phoebe/

Jude carefully cleaning one of the Roman coins, ready for RTI recording.

RTI of one of the Roman coins. Can you read it?

We were also lucky enough to be given a post-excavation conservation workshop by Claire Woodhead of Hampshire Museum Services Conservation Laboratory. This continued the story of what happens to finds once they are subjected to the more complex scientific analyses which reveal their significance. Claire’s accounts of the various proceedings which are applied to the many different categories of finds were crucially instrumental in completing our overview and experience of the finds process from A-Z.

Lastly, a small boast and a profound vote of thanks to Alice Millard: we very nearly managed to put the entire collection of finds on to a database by the end of the dig!

Vicky and Alice RTIing a coin.

Alice, a dab hand with laptop and finds bag, soldiered womanfully on in our last week and entered practically all the objects, washed, dried, studied, labelled, bagged, described and categorised – no mean feat and a task which is usually left to the weeks after a season has finished. My heartfelt thanks also go to all the students and volunteers who assisted me in undertaking all of the above activities and helped to make the Bothy such a cheerful place – even when invaded by swarms of thirsty diggers requiring tea and coffee and demanding to know who had eaten all the biscuits!

– Jude Jones

For more detailed info on the finds themselves see the Interim Report 2013, which will be online here very soon.


Filed under: Archaeology of Archaeology, Finds, Interim Report 2013, Jude Jones, Summer Excavation Tagged: 1960s, Alan Turton, biscuits, Bothy, box trenches, coin, conservation, English Civil War Society, finds, Iron Age, mug, parliamentarian, paulet, roman, royalist, rti, rubbish, Sealed Knot, sieges, slip-ware, spoil, tool marks, use-wear

Basing House Video: Three Weeks in Two Minutes!

Peter has made this super awesome timelapse video of the summer excavation. Peter is a Masters student studying the Virtual Pasts MSc. He is looking at the use of online technologies for archaeology. Peter has been working on developing online experiences for the Portus Project, another University of Southampton fieldwork project.  The Portus Project will soon […]

Peter has made this super awesome timelapse video of the summer excavation.

Peter is a Masters student studying the Virtual Pasts MSc. He is looking at the use of online technologies for archaeology. Peter has been working on developing online experiences for the Portus Project, another University of Southampton fieldwork project.  The Portus Project will soon have its own MOOC; an online virtual learning environment that will introduce the archaeology of Portus.

This timelapse video is made up of images taken with a GoPro camera, which triggered automatically every 30 seconds. Peter set the camera up at a number of locations around and in the trench to create this great composition.

The soundtrack is performed by a good friend of ours, Gregorio Merchán. You can find more of his excellent music on his SoundCloud site.

For the ultimate viewing experience, use the buttons at the bottom of the video to change to HD (high definition) and to play in full-screen. Enjoy!

A big thanks to Peter Wheeler for making this brilliant video!

We owe him some beers!


Filed under: Archaeologist Portraits, Images, Recording Methodology, Summer Excavation Tagged: peter-wheeler, timelapse, trench, video

Guest Post: An Artist’s Perspective

– Peter Driver, our Artist-in-Residence, has written a piece reflecting on his experience of the excavation season. Thanks Peter! — I relished the opportunity to be artist-in-residence at the Basing House dig.  I  felt rather unqualified for the role, having no previous experience of archaeology, outside of TV documentaries. I didn’t even study History at […]

Peter Driver, our Artist-in-Residence, has written a piece reflecting on his experience of the excavation season.

Thanks Peter!

I relished the opportunity to be artist-in-residence at the Basing House dig.  I  felt rather unqualified for the role, having no previous experience of archaeology, outside of TV documentaries. I didn’t even study History at school beyond year 9 (or third year as it was called back then) but I was excited by the prospect of being part of a multi-disciplinary team carrying out an intensive three-week project.

Image by Peter Driver. Click on image for a higher resolution version.

I planned to make a series of ‘zines’ (small hand-made magazines) to capture some of my thoughts and reflections and to provide a memento/souvenir of the experience for the members of the dig team.  I had never made a zine before arriving at Basing House. Their production consumed a great deal of my time and I was grateful for some assistance on folding duties from a few of the students, and for the patient support from the visitor centre staff when the photocopier jammed (which it did frequently) or needed logging-in, again. I decided to make limited editions of 52 signed copies of each zine. I suppose I did that to make them somehow more ‘special’, personal, and ‘valuable’ to the recipients.

Image by Peter Driver – Click on image for a higher resolution version.

Some students wanted to try mono-printing techniques so I did a number of mini workshops with two students at a time coming to my makeshift studio and producing their first ever mono-prints. Some even made work with archaeology themes!  A few of their prints were featured in the zines, with one commanding the front cover of zine Vol. 5.

Image by Peter Driver – click on image for a higher resolution version.

My pen drawings tend to be observational/representative and on the dig I made several drawings of the team working. The human effort and orchestrated activity was exciting to behold: Archaeologists, students, researchers and local volunteers; all working to gather as much information as possible from this little area of ground. From time to time my working-class guilt got the better of me and I had to put down my pen in order to shovel some loose spoil, or trundle a wheel barrow to the spoil heap.

Image by Peter Driver – click on image for a higher resolution version.

A day-trip to Hampton Court Palace helped us all to visualise what Basing House would have looked like before it was destroyed in the Civil War. It had been one of the finest Tudor houses in England and similar in design to the Tudor gatehouse and base court at Hampton Court.

Image by Peter Driver – click on the image for a higher resolution version.

The material excavated and dumped on the spoil heap included beautifully formed flints, crumbling soft chalk, clay, stone, earth, roots, bits of old tyre…all had their own charm.

Image by Peter Driver – click on image for higher resolution version.

The working methods with spade and shovel, mattock and trowel allowed layers to be cleared efficiently and sensitively down to a fine shaving of soil to find the edges of each feature  and context.

Image by Peter Driver – click on image for a higher resolution version.

Making work in response to all this excitement was a challenge. So many visualising technologies were in use by the team, with meticulous section drawing, formal photography and image capture to enable computer modelling – that I found myself withdrawing to the comfort zone  of old technology, pen and paper, glue and scissors and printmaking.

Image by Peter Driver – click on image for a higher resolution version.

Perhaps next time I will be braver and engage with some new media expressions.

It was a privilege to work with such talented and committed people. I really hope we can do it again next year!

Peter Driver


Filed under: Archaeologist Portraits, Archaeology of Archaeology, Artist in Residence, Peter Driver, Summer Excavation, Winchester School of Art Tagged: art, artist in residence, drawing, monoprints, paper, pen, screenprints, sketching, zines