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Day 1 at Buckler's Hard and we're opening up the trenches with a mechanical digger in preparation for the excavation to get underway on Saturday.
Follow us from the live web cam if you don't fancy getting wet:
This is a Festival of British Archaeology Event funded by the New Forest Park Authority as part of their World War II Remembers Project. To find out how you can visit the dig, read our event webpages http://www.wessexarch.co.uk/beaulieu-estate/new-forest-national-park.
Keep checking this events blog to find out what we discover over the Festival of British Archaeology (July 14th to July 22nd).
July is the Council of British Archaeology’s Festival of British Archaeology. Over the next few weeks, Wessex Archaeology will be involved in a programme of informative and fun activities, through our own events and working with other organisations such as the New Forest Park Authority, Churches Conservation Trust and Salisbury Museum.
This year marks the 22nd CBA Festival of British Archaeology, the annual celebration of our heritage co-ordinated by the Council of British Archaeology.
The Festival showcases the very best of British archaeology, by presenting over 750 special events organised and hosted by museums, heritage organisations, national and countryside parks, universities, local societies, and community archaeologists across the UK. You don’t have to be an archaeologist to join in - the Festival gives everyone the opportunity to learn about their local heritage, see archaeology in action, and get hands on with history. Clickhere for the Festival's full event's listing.
For the festival Wessex Archaeology is running a Family Fun Day on the 21st of July as part of Project Florence, a Heritage Lottery Funded project highlighting archaeology in South Wiltshire. This event will involve visiting an ongoing excavation of an Anglo-Saxon burial site on Salisbury Plain Training Area, which is being run as part of Operation Nightingale, a rehabilitation programme for soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.
In addition, Wessex Archaeology is working with the Churches Conservation Trust, New Forest Park Authority and Salisbury Museum on their events.
All these events are FREE (some venue entry costs may apply) but for many booking is essential. Check out our Festival of British Archaeology webpages, by clicking here. Alternatively, click on the links below to get more details about individual events and find out how to book.
- Project Florence/Operation Nightingale excavation family fun day on Saturday 21st July (Heritage Lottery Fund)
- Archaeological survey and geophysicsat St, Andrews Church, Holcombe, Somerset from Monday 16th July to Saturday 21st July (Churches Conservation Trust and partners),
- Excavations at Buckler's Hard on Beaulieu Estate from Saturday 14th July to Sunday 22nd July (New Forest Park National Park)
- Discover Day at Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum on Tuesday 24th July
See you there.
WA Coastal & Marine, through our Edinburgh office, presented a poster (displayed below) at the Marine Alliance for Science and Technology Scotland (MASTS) first annual science meeting held in Edinburgh, August 22-24.
Although MASTS originated with an emphasis on fisheries and marine biological sciences, it includes physical oceanography, coastal geomorphology and marine archaeology.
WA Coastal & Marine staff were in attendance to highlight the potential for interdisciplinary research and management in Scotland’s seas, and the use of marine data for archaeological purposes as well as WA's role in helping sustainable development in the marine environment. In addition to presenting a poster, WA also took part in the Marine Protected Areas workshop where discussions were held between curators from Historic Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, as well as scientists and developers alike.
Wessex Archaeology is very pleased to be involved in the Festival of British Archaeology again this year. The festival is an annual two week event organised by the Council for British Archaeology and this year it runs from Sat 16th - Sun 31st July.
We will be setting up the Time Travelling by Water workshop with a hands on display of artefacts from the sea floor at the Hampshire Water Festival at Staunton Country Park in Havant on the 16th and 17th July and at the Family Discovery Day at Salisbury Museum on Tuesday 26th July.
Wessex staff involved in the Heritage Lottery funded Celts and Romans in North Wiltshire project will be hosting Celtic Feasts and Roman Rituals - a day of family fun at Barbury Castle Country Park in Wroughton, Swindon on the 23rd of July. This will celebrate the success of the project and the fascinating archaeology from Truckle Hill Roman Bath-House and the Chiseldon Iron Age Cauldrons site.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
This season has been full of surprises, and the greatest surprise of all came on the penultimate day. There is another Roman building underlying the bath-house at Truckle Hill. This was a completely unexpected and very exciting discovery.
It had been difficult to explain the painted plaster wall outside the caldarium (hot room) but a new wall immediately outside the wall of the tepidarium (warm room) is clearly part of the same, earlier building. The excavated section includes a window opening, and the masonry work is of very high quality. This wall had also been decorated with painted plaster.
This first building was clearly luxuriously appointed with a mosaic floor (a small section of floor was found in situ at the base of the painted wall).
Work has continued all week in the first frigidarium (cold bath) and the remains of the steps down into the bath have been uncovered. At more than 1.5 m it was much deeper than expected and would have been more of a plunge pool than a bath. Large pieces of roof tile from the collapsed roof lay at the bottom of the frigidarium, together with blocks of tufa which had formed the ceiling.
Groups from the South Wiltshire Young Archaeologists’ Club and from Hardenhuish School have been out to help excavate the area at the end of the valley. It now seems almost certain that this was the building site where large quantities of mortar and plaster were produced for the bath-house, its predecessor and the villa. This is exciting – it is unusual to find evidence of a Roman building site.
We end the season with lots of new questions. What was the connection between the first Roman building, the bath-house and the villa on the top of the hill? How large was the first building, when was it built and what was it used for? These are the questions which we hope to investigate next year.
We have many people to thank at the end of our 2008 season. First of all Mr Antony Little who has so generously allowed us to investigate the site. We would also like to thank Wiltshire County Council Archaeology Service and North Wiltshire District Council Community Awards for helping to fund this project and last but not least, the many volunteers who have helped in the excavation.
Tufa: soft limestone rock which forms beside water saturated with carbonates. Tufa is still produced in streams nearby.
The second week of excavation at Truckle Hill is, if anything, even more rewarding than the first. Some 3m away from the rear wall of the caldarium and running more or less parallel to it, is another wall, in remarkable condition. Interest turned to real excitement when careful trowelling revealed decorated plaster on the wall. This suggests an internal wall beyond what we had thought was the extent of the bath-house. The plaster is painted with a design of red and yellow, imitating exotic foreign marble, with a buff panel framed with black. Only a small section has been uncovered but it is likely that there is more, hidden beneath the soil.
Down the slope from the bath-house we are finding quantities of wall plaster, small fragments, many of them coloured. Pieces of stone roof tile, flue tile and the odd tessera all suggest that this is where building material was dumped when the bath-house was altered or demolished.
Some 100m from the bath-house, work continues on the mysterious mound further up the valley. There is a spring near here and last week it looked as if this might have been the site of a cistern, providing water for the bath-house. Now this seems less likely. Layers of mortar have been uncovered where the ground dips in the centre of the mound. Could this be where the mortar for building the bath-house was produced?
As so often happens, this excavation is not only answering old questions, but raising new, exciting ones as well.