SETTING UP FOR THE THIRD BASING HOUSE FIELD SEASON

Reblogged from Day of Archaeology 2015: http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/third-basing-house-season/ Today I’m working at Hampshire Cultural Trust with Dave Allen. I’m lucky because my visit times with the regular weekly volunteer day at the Archaeology Stores, managed by the Curator of Archaeology, David Allen. To find out more about the work of David and the team, visit their excellent […]

Reblogged from Day of Archaeology 2015: http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/third-basing-house-season/

Today I’m working at Hampshire Cultural Trust with Dave Allen. I’m lucky because my visit times with the regular weekly volunteer day at the Archaeology Stores, managed by the Curator of Archaeology, David Allen.

To find out more about the work of David and the team, visit their excellent blog, which has a new post every Monday.

Hampshire Archaeology blog: https://hampshirearchaeology.wordpress.com/

Nicole Beale


I’ve driven down to the University of Southampton to help pack the van full of equipment. This is because we’re off to run the Basing House excavation field season on Monday. Very excited! Its chucking in down with rain so we’ve been trying to get all of the kit packed up quickly so that we can dry off.  The dig is run by the University of Southampton, the University of York and Hampshire Cultural Trust.

You can read more about this year’s field season on our blog: http://basinghouseproject.org/

Dom, Chris and the Green Shed

NICOLE BEALE


Filed under: Day of Archaeology 2015 Tagged: Basing House, community archaeology, Day of Archaeology 2015, digging, Early Medieval, equipment, excavation, Hampshire Cultural TrustBronze Age, hampshire-cultural-trust, Iron Age, medieval, Old Basing, Post Medieval, Public Archaeology, rain, roman, Romano-British, season, shed, Southampton, survey, SurveyArchaeology, University of Southampton

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

Aerial Photogrammetry at Portus

In the previous post by Stephen Kay on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles at Portus he discussed the work that has been completed on site in terms of capturing aerial photography. Aerial photography plays a significant part within the understanding of any archaeological site and this is especially true at Portus. As Stephen says it provides the ability for the archaeologist to …

In the previous post by Stephen Kay on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles at Portus he discussed the work that has been completed on site in terms of capturing aerial photography. Aerial photography plays a significant part within the understanding of any archaeological site and this is especially true at Portus. As Stephen says it provides the ability for the archaeologist to have a bird’s-eye view of an excavation and it gives them the opportunity to see the plan of structures, their relationships with each other and alignments which are not visible at ground level. These images are however still a static representations of the area of interest, represented through 2D views. Part of the work that I have completed for the Portus Project incorporates these static images to produce 3D reconstruction through photogrammetry.

For the first time in 2013, Portus utilised UAVs in the documentation of these aerial photographs having previously used balloons, elevation cranes and a local police helicopter. The introduction of these UAVs has allowed the team at Portus to control the documentation of the site in more ways than was previously possible. The UAVs that were used at the end of field school allowed for a full control over how the images were taken. We could focus on specific areas for longer, using the high resolution cameras that are used on site, as we were able to control the flight path of the UAVs. It allowed us to not only gather information from great heights but we could capture images from varying angles and height variations. This change in angle and distance is essential within the production of a photogrammetry model as the images need to contain enough pixel resolution and overlapping data to allow for the production of a 3D model. Previously having used balloons and cranes, the field of view gathered has been limited because there has not been enough room to manoeuvre the crane around the area of interest and the balloon system is affected too much by the change in wind. At Portus we were able to work closely with our Italian colleagues in producing the suitable images needed for the photogrammetry modelling and the results that will be shown highlight the potential that this methodology has within the understanding of the site.

Photogrammetry model of the 2013 excavation of the Palazzo Imperiale
Photogrammetry model of the 2013 excavation of the Palazzo Imperiale

 

Photogrammetry model of the 2013 excavation of the Navalia
Photogrammetry model of the 2013 excavation of the Navalia

The datasets provided show unique views that archaeologists from the ground are unable to see. The Navalia excavation highlights the potential of recording the subtle details of the surface that are often missed when recorded with traditional methods. The datasets are not as good as the laser scan models produced because the models were produced explicitly from the aerial photographs. As this was a case study we wanted to examine how well photogrammetry could be utilised on site and in future the models that will be produced will combine these aerial photographs with photographs taken within a normal data capture. Laser scanning will always provide better results of large areas than photogrammetry does. This is due to the way in which both recording methods processes the data. In order to gain more comparable results there is a need to gather more photos at lower height variations, as there will be a great number of higher resolution images of the same area (instead of one image we could have twenty) allowing for a greater resolution model. Again our aim is to do this in the future.

Having processed the photogrammetry models from 2013 there was a second recording session in early 2014. The same UAV was unable to be used and instead data was captured using a GoPro Hero black 3. This offers a lower resolution than the 36mpx camera used previously but the results that were produced are again very comparable. This was due to the way in which the data was captured. GoPros offer a greater lens distortion than normal cameras because of the fisheye lens that it uses and will affect the production of the photogrammetry model because of the changing pixel representation. As a result the camera was set on its medium resolution with the captured images providing a 7mpx resolution. A more focussed flight path was chosen to allow for a series of close up images that incorporated the necessary overlap needed. In total several thousand images were collected. Each of these were processed to remove the lens distortion and cropped to remove any erroneous data that were inherent within the images (due to the removal of the lens distortion). The best images were then chosen and a number of models were produced.

Photogrammetry model of the NS mole
Photogrammetry model of the NS mole
Photogrammetry model of the mole
Photogrammetry model of the mole

Having processed this data my attention then turned to the archive that the Portus project has. There are over 30,000 images that have been taken around the site documenting its changing pattern. The images were never intended to be used within the production of 3D models but rather as a way to simply record the site year by year. I have personally posted a review of AGIsoft Photoscan here and the great thing about the software that we use to process our models, is that it will try and produce a virtual model regardless of the images that are inputted. As a trial method I used the images that Professor Simon Keay captured in 2009 from the police helicopter and I successfully managed to produce a high resolution model of the entire site. I have since produced a number of other models based on our archive and I will slowly make my way through to see what else I can produce. Although the results are missing some data because of gaps of information, the main thing that this offers is that not only are we using our archived images but we are now able to virtually document the changing pattern of the site since the excavation at Portus began. This offers further research avenues that can be incorporated into the future digital recording that will take place over the next few years.

Photogrammetry model of Portus from 2009
Photogrammetry model of Portus from 2009

 

Photogrammetry model of Building 1 and Period 6A defensive wall from 2008
Photogrammetry model of Building 1 and Period 6A defensive wall from 2008
Photogrammetry model of the excavation of Building 1 with the footings of Building 4 and Period 6A defensive wall from 2009
Photogrammetry model of the excavation of Building 1 with the footings of Building 4 and Period 6A defensive wall from 2009

A video from the on board GoPro camera used on the dji Inovations drone highlighting the field of view, stability and flight path of the UAV.

A video of the dji Inovations S800 spreading wings drone taking off and landing. Notice the stability provided by the multiple propellers

Theban Waterscapes and Harbours Survey THaWS 2014 – Measure for Measure

The current season of THaWS fieldwork has given the team some time for reflection on the survey results from 2012 and 2013, and has provided an opportunity for addressing some of the outstanding issues related to the mapping of Thebes … Continue reading

The current season of THaWS fieldwork has given the team some time for reflection on the survey results from 2012 and 2013, and has provided an opportunity for addressing some of the outstanding issues related to the mapping of Thebes on the west and east banks. Survey work throughout the 2012-2014 has been carried out by the team members, including the project director Angus Graham, who oversees the work with the Egypt Exploration Society (EES; http://www.ees.ac.uk/),  Sarah Jones from the Museum of London (MOLA) and Dominic Barker and the author from the Department of Archaeology at the University of Southampton. In 2012, due to some problems with equipment, much of the surveying in of the geophysical survey areas and profiles was conducted using a total station. In 2013 an RTK GPS was used for surveying topographic points and giving elevation data for the topographic correction of GPR and ERT profiles. While these surveys gave sufficient data for processing and interpreting the results of the geophysics, it still left some largely unanswered questions in the minds of the team. How does the current GPS survey relate to the existing local surveys on the west and east banks at Thebes? What remaining survey markers or stations exist in the landscape, allowing THaWS to tie material in to the current survey? Most importantly perhaps, we returned to the issue of what elevation above sea level to use for the project. THaWS is interested in looking at the increasing levels of Nile sediment over thousands of years, and how the natural and man-made changes to the floodplain relate to the archaeology of the area. Having a standard benchmark or datum for this is crucial.

Assessing the different surveys and coordinate systems utilised around Thebes, using sketches and charts, the Survey of Egypt and Reimer maps and field notes

Assessing the different surveys and coordinate systems utilised around Thebes, using sketches and charts, the Survey of Egypt and Reimer maps and field notes

The first step in relating the different local surveys in the study area was to list and assess the nature of the different coordinate systems and datums utilised by different surveys.

It is good to give a bit of historical background to the mapping in the area. The data that we have relate ostensibly to national mapping programmes, or individual projects utilising local or arbitrary coordinate systems. We also have mapping dating from the 19th century, in the form of sketch maps and plans. Of these the map data that has provided the most relevant data is the map produced by John Gardner Wilkinson (1797-1875). Wilkinson published The Topography of Thebes and General View of Egypt in 1835, describing the monuments and landscape around Thebes. No graticule is present on the map, and no information regarding datum or coordinate system are presented. The map does, however, relate standing archaeological remains with features on the Nile floodplain, and therefore provides a crucial document in building up a picture of the study area.

A detail of Wilkinson’s map

A detail of Wilkinson’s map

The maps that are perhaps most pertinent to the THaWS work are those produced by the Survey Department between 1892 and 1907 for the cadastral mapping of Egypt. Lyon’s 1908 description of the cadastral survey includes some notes on technical aspects of the survey, including the use of metal chains and some of the practicalities of surveying this vast country. The maps based on the Survey of Egypt for Thebes all utilise the Egyptian Red Belt datum and the Survey of Egypt coordinate system. These systems were also adopted by the map produced by Schweinfurth, published by Reimer in Berlin in 1909, and drawing on Wilkinson’s map, the Survey of Egypt cadastral survey.

One of the principal aims of the 2014 survey was to try and locate trig points and bench marks created by the Survey Department for the cadastral mapping of Egypt. Locating the remaining markers is, however, another matter. The reconnaissance in 2013 and this season has found only two markers; one a trig point above El Gorn on the heights above the Valley of the Kings, and a benchmark on the corner of the wall of one of the alabaster shops to the south of Hatshepsut. The lesson from this experience is clear: the survival of even official survey markers in the landscape at Thebes is unlikely.

Survey marker on the heights of Biban el Muluk, one of the only markers in the area of El Gorn where the marker survives

Survey marker on the heights of Biban el Muluk, one of the only markers in the area of El Gorn where the marker survives

Survey benchmark at the alabaster shops to the south of Hatshepsut

Survey benchmark at the alabaster shops to the south of Hatshepsut

 

In addition to the national and regional mapping projects being assessed, many of the local surveys on the east and west banks are of relevance to the project. In particular survey of markers from the Theban Mapping Project (http://www.thebanmappingproject.com/) and markers from the ongoing project work at the temple of Amenhotep III provide useful ancilliary data for the THaWS work. These surveys use their own local coordinate systems, however, the use of reduced heights above sea level for the projects makes the survey of points vital to allow current survey data to be related to existing publications showing the relationship between monuments and the ancient Nile flood levels.

Survey this season with the GPS allowed a transformation to be performed between the UTM 36N coordinate system with WGS84 datum being used by the GPS, and the Theban Mapping Project survey markers. The result of this shows some large error caused by the probably moving of survey markers within the landscape over the last 20-30 years. The systems of these projects give useful elevation information that is germain to the aims of the current THaWS work.

 

Dominic Barker and Kamal Helmy Shared positioning the GPS rover on a survey marker at the temple of Merenptah

Dominic Barker and Kamal Helmy Shared positioning the GPS rover on a survey marker at the temple of Merenptah

One final set of survey data has been essential for resolving the issues surrounding elevation: the survey datum and account of Hölscher for the excavations at Medinet Habu. A datum point, set at 0m, was established by Hölscher on the threshold of the first pylon at Medinet Habu. He wrote:
‘For the leveling of Medinet Habu the threshold of the first pylon was chosen as the zero-point. This point lies 77.09 meters above sea-level. A bench mark of the Survey Department on top of the granite threshold between the two guardhouses of the Eastern Fortified Gate stands at +76.82 meters, that is, 27 centimeters lower than our zero-point of leveling.’

(Hölscher 1934, 3)

Although the Survey Department benchmark is no longer visible, the stones on either side of the central axis at the threshold remain in situ, and provided a useful datum to record with the GPS. In fact when this point is considered together with the other points of elevation on the West Bank there is a discrepancy of 0.12m over points spread some 5km across the landscape, a considerable achievement in terms of the accuracy of the original Survey Department benchmarks and the traversing of these elevations to the different projects concerned. For the THaWS survey we are now in a much better position to use a suitable benchmark for elevation above sea level that relates to the work and published material of the different projects at Thebes.

Kamal Helmy Shared and Dominic Barker surveying on top of the mounds at Birket Habu

Kamal Helmy Shared and Dominic Barker surveying on top of the mounds at Birket Habu

There is still work to do in relating our survey data with work on the West Bank and at Karnak to ensure that THaWS data is compatible with other datasets, in terms of spatial location and elevation. However, the relationship between our geophysical survey and borehole data, our current survey, and its relationship to other survey data at Thebes, is perhaps more transparent and congruent to existing material.

 

References
Hölscher, U. 1934, The Excavation at Medinet Habu. Volume 1 General Plans and Views. The University of Chicago Oriental Institute Publications Volume XXI. Chicago; University of Chicago Press.
Lyons, H.G. 1908, The Cadastral Survey of Egypt 1892-1907. Cairo; National Printing Department.
Wilkinson, J.G. 1835, Topography of Thebes and General View of Egypt, being a Short Account of the Principal Objects Worthy of Notice in the Valley of the Nile. London; John Murray.

 


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 – 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

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

Paperwork and un-Commonly Hot

This week we’ve been working hard to get everything ready for our dig starting next week. We travelled up to Basing House on Tuesday to meet with all of the staff that work at the site to talk about last minute details. While we were there we walked over to Basingstoke Common to look at […]

This week we’ve been working hard to get everything ready for our dig starting next week.

We travelled up to Basing House on Tuesday to meet with all of the staff that work at the site to talk about last minute details.

While we were there we walked over to Basingstoke Common to look at the areas that Clare Allen and her team will be surveying over the three weeks.

Surveying the Common

It was so hot that the grass was like straw!

Basingstoke Common, looking uncommonly Mediterranean!

If you’re planning on coming up to see the survey on the Common, and the weather is similar to this week, please bring a hat and bottled water with you. The Common is pretty exposed, and as you can see here, is a huge expanse of fields with no shelter from the sun. Having said that, it will be worth braving, to learn all about magnetometry and resistivity.

Standing at the top of Basingstoke Common, looking across back to Basing House. All of what you can see needs to be survey (and there was more behind me also!).

If you’d like to join in with the work that Clare is going to be doing, she has asked me to let you know that the machinery that they use is based on magnetisation of the soil, and so any metal worn on your person will effect the results. So if you’d like to have a go, no metal belt buckles, metal fastenings in shoes, or metal jewellery allowed.

Recording Archaeology

We’ve also be getting all of the paperwork that we need ready for the excavation. There are always lots of record sheets and registers that are needed on an archaeological excavation. Its often quite hard to plan if you are not sure exactly what you are going to find. For example, we’re not anticipating coming across any skeletons, but we have to make sure that we are prepared for it in case it does happen. The same for environmental samples, masonry recording, metal storage, etc. Its a huge job, getting all the paper records together, and all agreeing what formal vocabularies and referencing conventions we’re going to be using.

Folders, and folders, and folders

The students that are coming on the excavation are going to have an opportunity to have a go at most things, but one thing that everyone will be doing is filling in a context record sheet.

Because its a training excavation, we’ve also been laminating useful reference sheets, and putting together help sheets for some of the equipment that we’ll be using.  You’ll see that our excavators have clipboards with them, which hold all of the various recording sheet options, so ask if you’d like to find out about the recording methodology that we’re using on site.

Basing Lime Pits

Just before we left Basing House, we walked over to see the Lime Pits, these are left over from the quarrying for aggregates that took place here. Its a gorgeous spot in the hot weather as much of it is under tree canopy, so if you’re visiting us, you could plan to pop over to the play park there.

Basing Lime Pits


Filed under: Clare Allen, Excavation Plans, Recording Methodology, Summer Excavation Tagged: clare-allen, common, lime pits, preparation, record sheets, recording methodology, survey

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