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Time Team 2007 post excavation reports

The technical post-excavation reports for the 2007 Time Team series (series 14) are now online. Reports can be viewed directly on our website, or downloaded for offline viewing and printing.

Visit our Time Team reports section to see reports from other years (currently 2007 and 2008).

Jewry Street, Winchester, Update Four

The flint and cob foundations of the late medieval/early post-medieval building have been removed. Now we can see two separate plots on the site, each running from the old Jewry Street, Scowertenestret.
 
On the southern plot are the remains of a building, some 5m wide and running the full length of the site and beyond. No walls survive, but there are successive layers of chalk floors, which suggests that the building was in use for many years. It doesn’t look as if any industrial activity took place in the building, and the finds are domestic rubbish, some of which are of worked bone.

Recording the chalk floors
Recording the chalk floors

The plot to the north is quite different. Here there is a building roughly 8m by 5m, its longer length parallel with the old street. It had two principal rooms, similar in size. In one of them, parts of the chalk and flint floors have survived, together with holes for posts which must once have supported some timber structure.
 
In the other room there was a quantity of slag – waste from iron working. Outside, at the rear of the building, several pits contained more iron-working debris.
 
A small metal-working crucible was discovered in one pit. It is made of fine clay and dates to the early medieval period. Without analysing the residue inside it, we can’t say whether the crucible was used for copper-alloy or silver. Pits at the back of the building contained more iron-smithing waste. This workshop, which was re-floored on several occasions, appears to date from the tenth to twelfth centuries.

A fine crucible was found in one of the pits. It would have been used in the manufacture of copper or silver objects.
A fine crucible was found in one of the pits. It would have been used in the manufacture of copper or silver objects.

Medieval ‘Scowertenestret’, or Shoemakers street, was not confined to one industry, it would seem, and documentary records back this up. An early twelfth century survey of Winchester records a goldsmith in the street. Fourteenth century records show a wide range of artisans and trades including smiths, cutlers, butchers, skinners, tanners, fullers, weavers and tailors, all occupying properties owned by either the King, the Bishop, or Hyde Abbey; this was a prosperous and industrious part of the town.

Find of Iron Age Treasure Wins Award

Excavating the Chiseldon cauldrons

The team that joined together to recover the remains of unique find, a hoard of 2,000 year old cauldrons found at Chiseldon, near Swindon, Wiltshire, has been awarded a top archaeological prize.
 
The ‘Rescue Dig of the Year' award went to the team that recovered the Iron Age cauldrons at the "Archaeology Festival '09." The festival was organised by the leading archaeology magazine ‘Current Archaeology' and held at the National Museum and Galleries of Wales and the University of Cardiff, February 6-8th, 2009. The awards were decided by on-line voting by the magazine's readers.
 
Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick of Wessex Archaeology who led the excavation team said ‘this award recognises not just the importance of the find but also the way so many people with an interest in our past have worked together.'
 
When metal detector user Peter Hyams discovered a metal bowl at Chiseldon, he did not dig it up. He left it the ground and reported the find to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). But this left Peter and everyone else with a puzzle. How old was the buried find?
 
Peter was convinced that further work was needed and local archaeologist John Winterburn and the Local History Society came forward to do a small excavation. This showed that the bowl was actually a cauldron, apparently of iron, and that there might be a second one. But the objects were too big to get out of the ground and their date remained a puzzle. There was not enough information for experts to be able to identify and date the cauldrons. Then scientific analysis of some of the metal at Oxford University suggested that the cauldrons were prehistoric, much earlier than had been thought. This would make them Treasure under the Treasure Act.

 

Excavating the Chiseldon cauldrons and wrapping them in plaster of paris for protection

Realising the significance of this, Katie Hinds the local PAS Finds Liaison Officer then asked Wessex Archaeology, the largest archaeological organisation in the region, and who had already helped the PAS with a number of other discoveries, if they could help. The PAS had limited funds available but it was clear that this would not be enough so Wessex took on the excavation and donated their time. The British Museum sent a conservator, Alex Baldwin, to help with the difficult task of removing the cauldrons intact. With the help of Peter Hyams, the farmer - who lent a JCB digger, members of the Chiseldon Local History Society, the Wiltshire Archaeological Society, archaeologists from Cambridge University and the PAS, the cauldrons were excavated.

 

To everyone's astonishment there was not just one or even two cauldrons, but a dozen, all made from wafer thin metal. It was the largest hoard of Iron Age cauldrons found, not just in Britain, but in Europe. The Chiseldon cauldrons are a unique find, the remains of a great feast.
 
Wrapped in bandages stiffened with plaster of paris, and still full of soil, the cauldrons were carefully removed from the pit in which they had been buried and then taken to the British Museum. At a Coroner's Inquest the cauldrons were declared Treasure and an independent valuation committee determined the reward payable to Peter Hyams for reporting the find. This allowed the British Museum to acquire the hoard and in the autumn of 2008 Alex Baldwin started the next stage of work, micro-excavating one cauldron in the Research Laboratory as part of an exhibition ‘Conservation in Focus' while visitors asked questions. This work was also aimed at establishing how well-preserved the cauldrons were. It would also allow an accurate estimate for how long it would take to excavate and conserve all of the cauldrons. The scale of the work needed is beyond the Museums' normal resources.

British Museum conservator Alex Baldwin micro-excavating the cauldrons

Soon it was possible to see for the first time what one of the cauldrons looked like and it proved to be much better preserved than anyone had hoped. The date of the great feast can now be narrowed down to the second or first century BC. Reacting to the news of the prize, Alex said ‘it's great to see the collaborative work acknowledged by an award, especially when it was decided by the readers of the magazine.'
 
Dr Roger Bland, Head of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, added ‘the Chiseldon cauldrons show both the strength and weakness of the current arrangements for reporting archaeological finds. The find, which is of international significance, was properly reported through the PAS. This shows how effective the scheme is but it has no funds available for follow up excavations. The significance of the find only became clear because Wessex Archaeology stepped into the breach and everyone donated their time. We are very grateful for this. And this still leaves the British Museum with the challenge of raising significant funds to be able to do the essential conservation that will unlock further secrets and allow the full story of this unique find to be told.'

New Time Team section

Wessex Archaeology has had an involvement with Time Team from the very beginning, through one of the programme's best known characters, Phil Harding. In recent years, however, we have taken over much of the archaeological ‘technical support' for the team. 

To coincide with the recent broadcast of the episode "Buried bishops and belfries" filmed in Salisbury in 2008, we are launching a new Time Team section on our website where you can find out about our involvement with Time Team, read post-excavation reports, and see regular updates from our staff that work on the programme.

Time Team at Binchester

 

Two Coastal and Marine Placements in 2009-10

IFA logo resizeWessex Archaeology's coastal and marine section is hosting two one-year work placements in 2009-10, administered by IfA and funded by English Heritage. One placement is for an archaeologist, who will be involved in a wide range of desk- and field-based investigations; the second placement is for a geophysicist, focusing on marine geophysical survey and interpretation. Details of the two placements can be found on the IfA website. Applications for the placements should be made to the IfA. The closing date for applications is 27 February 2009.

Jewry Street, Winchester, Update Three

The medieval building runs for 11m across the excavation site, from its frontage on the old line of Scowerenestret. The back of the building is beyond the site, under the present day Jewry Street. It was a long, narrow building (4.5m wide) with flint and cob foundations, timber walls and probably a slate roof.

Its dimensions are fairly typical of urban buildings of this date, with a number of rooms, some of them semi-basement, stretching back from the old Scowertenestret. The original large rooms were later subdivided, reusing some stone from an earlier building.

Chalk block reused from an earlier building with a possible mason’s mark or protective symbol.
Chalk block reused from an earlier building with a possible mason’s mark or protective symbol.

Little has been found at the front of the building, because it was demolished when Jewry Street was levelled in the early nineteenth century. But a brick hearth found here seems to date from the first phase of the building, giving it an impressive entrance hall.

Cleaning the medieval brick hearth.
Cleaning the brick hearth

Deeds of 1285 refer to the site as a curtilage held by William of Buckingham. By 1417 the plot is described as a cottage belonging to John Shaldene.
Evidence from the building corroborates this. It appears to be standing on its own, with garden or open ground on each side.

A side door in the north wall of the building once opened onto a cobbled yard and an outbuilding with a chalk floor. The outside area to the south is scattered with rubbish pits.

Jewry Street was a prosperous part of medieval Winchester and boasted a number of stone houses, particularly on the east side of the street. The name Jewry Street, ‘Vicus Judeorum’ or ‘Gywerystrete’ was used from the early 13th century, but although the north-west quarter of the town was popular with members of the Jewish community they lived alongside the other inhabitants of Winchester.

Jewry Street, Winchester, Update Two

Excavation is now well underway and it is clear that the medieval building running across the site was altered several times during the period when it was in use. Internal walls were put up to make smaller rooms and new floors were laid.
 
Below the sixteenth century building is an earlier one on the same alignment. Beyond the external wall to the south are numerous pits, presumably dug for rubbish. They are of different dates, and some were in use at the same time as the earlier building. Many finds have been retrieved from the pits, including a piece of decorated medieval floor tile, a silver penny, pieces of pottery, and bits of animal bone.
 
The line of the old street, running in front of the building, has been excavated down to the 1825 level, the time when this route was replaced by the present line of Jewry Street. Now we can dig further down and look for earlier layers that will help us trace the history of the street.

Part of a Late Medieval floor tile decorated with a ‘fleur-de-lis’ (lily flower) design.

Part of a Late Medieval floor tile decorated with a ‘fleur-de-lis’ (lily flower) design. Similar tiles can be seen in situ in Winchester Cathedral. It seems likely that the building this one came from probably belonged to a well-to-do citizen.

Jewry Street, Winchester

Commercial development at 28 Jewry Street is giving us the opportunity to investigate a corner of the city which still holds unanswered questions for archaeologists and historians. Wessex Archaeology Ltd was appointed by Clanfield Properties Ltd to carry out initial test pitting last year. Based on this work an excavation strategy was designed and agreed by Winchester City Council's Heritage Environment Officer. The unusual strategy involved sinking the piled foundations of the new building into the ground before rather than after the excavation. As a result archaeologists can dig right up to the edges of the site and work safely at some depth below the adjacent road and buildings.
 
Preliminary work started just before Christmas and the excavation began in earnest last Monday, 5th January 2009. The excavation team of ten will be on site until the end of February.  By then we expect to have investigated around 300 cubic metres of archaeological deposits ranging in date from the Iron Age right up to the 19th century.
 
Perhaps the greatest archaeological potential of the site is to give us more evidence about the development of the Late Saxon (AD 9th-10th century) town, in particular its north-western corner. The site lies over the line of a street and buildings that were part of the Late Saxon town plan.  Among the questions we would like to answer are when the street was first laid out and how built-up it was.
 
Below the Late Saxon street and buildings we also expect to find traces of the earlier Roman town. It is likely that a Roman street runs through the site and we may find evidence for its development and that of any buildings that flanked it.

Archaeological excavations at Jewry Street, Winchester, January 2009

It is possible that evidence of earlier structures or occupation may also survive. The site is inside the Iron Age enclosure of Oram's Arbour, which preceded the Roman town.
 
As well as the remains of streets and buildings, we expect to recover large quantities of finds and environmental remains.  These will tell us more about the activities carried out on the site at the various stages of its history.
 
Pottery, animal bone, plant and seed remains and industrial residues, such as those produced from metalworking, can give us a picture of people's everyday activities in the past.
 
The north-western corner of the historic city has been the subject of a number of excavations in recent years and we now have a much better idea of its development through time. The current excavation will add to the results of excavations carried out nearby on Jewry Street and in Staple Gardens.
 
During the excavation we will be providing information on boards at the site and in the Winchester Discovery Centre opposite.

Key Discovery Scoops Top Award

The discovery of the Stone Age Hand axes from the North Sea was awarded the Best Discovery Award in the prestigious British Archaeological Awards held at the British Museum on Monday.
 
The hand axes, described by Phil Harding as ‘massively important’, date back tens of thousands of years. They were used by Stone Age hunters at a time in the Ice Age when water was locked up in the ice caps and the North Sea was dry land. The axes were found in gravel that was dredged from the seabed near Yarmouth but landed in Holland.
 
Their discovery gives decisive proof for a submerged landscape that experts thought had been destroyed. It was thought that rising sea levels had swept away all traces of this Ice Age world. The discovery of the hand axes, announced earlier this year, surprised the experts and caught the public imagination around the world.
 
The international collaboration that ensured the axes were reported was acknowledged by the judges who awarded the prize jointly to Jan Meeulmeister, the amateur archaeologist and fossil hunter who identified the finds; the British Marine Aggregates Producers Association who run the scheme for reporting archaeological remains found in dredging for sand and gravel at sea; and Hanson Marine Aggregates Ltd who promptly stopped dredging in the area the finds came from. The judges also praised the collaboration between the Dutch and English government archaeology services.
 
Awarding the prize Alison Taylor said ‘The find was reported across the world on TV, radio and in newspapers, while the thousands of online hits demonstrate that this find really engaged with the public’s fascination with archaeology. Overall this was, and continues to be, an excellent archaeological project.’
 
Dr Antony Firth of Wessex Archaeology who run the reporting scheme for the British Marine Aggregates Association and who nominated the find commented ‘This award is thoroughly deserved. It recognises the vision of the industry in introducing and supporting this voluntary scheme. Having the scheme in place meant that the significance of the hand axes was recognised and action was taken internationally and promptly. As a result a find of crucial importance was saved.’
 

CPD Course on Marine Development-led Archaeology

LeafletThe University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education is offering a one-day course on Marine Development-Led Archaeology on Thursday 23 October 2008. The course is presented in association with the Archaeological Training Forum and is supported by English Heritage.
 
The aim of this course is to provide participants with an overview of marine development-led archaeology and the range of solutions that can be applied to investigating possible impacts.
 
Staff from WA Coastal and Marine are contributing many of the course components, and discussion will be led by English Heritage and ALGAO.
 
Follow link to find details of the course, or download the course leaflet: marine-development-led-leaflet-new-jl-v
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