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Excavation in historic Winchester

Update! We now have a project homepage for this site with more detailed information.

An excavation is being carried out in Jewry Street, Winchester, ahead of development on the site by Mr M Bakhaty. The site is in the north-west corner of the historic core of Winchester. This area of the town is known to contain archaeological evidence of Winchester’s medieval, Saxon, Roman and Iron Age past.

A large cellar was built in the middle of the site in the medieval period. It was finely built and some evidence of its thick mortared chalk footings remain. The cellar presumably belonged to a substantial property fronting what is now Jewry Street. This was a prosperous area of the town between the late 11th and 14th century, known as ‘Scowrtenestret’ (Shoemakers’ Street), and later ‘Gywerystrete’. Documents from the fifteenth century list the occupants of the three medieval properties on the site. Amongst them were weavers, labourers, poor men, carpenters, a book binder, a tinker and a widow’.

In the northern part of the site we are uncovering very slight traces of late Saxon floors, but these have for the most part been destroyed by deep pits of later date.

Several pits which date from the Roman period (AD43-410) are being investigated and contain pottery and animal bone. The soil from these pits will be analysed for information about the contemporary environment. On the western side of the site we may find traces of a Roman street, linking the south and north gates of the Roman town (Venta Belgarum).

No remains of Iron Age date have yet been found.

Archaeocast 2: Excavation and experimental archaeology (podcast)

In this week’s podcast, we hear about the progress of Jake Keen’s iron smelting experiments in his bloomery furnace, complete with the clattering of bellows and the roaring of flames. Course participants explain what they have been excavating as the site begins to unfold, from postholes to fox’s teeth!
This week’s podcast was recorded by David Parry, on location at our annual Practical Archaeology Course on Cranborne Chase in Dorset, and has a duration of about 20 minutes.
Find out more about podcasts in our podcasting guide.

20:23 minutes (18.67 MB)

Excavation Podcast!

Wessex Archaeology are pleased to announce the launch of our first podcast. A podcast is just like a mini radio programme, which you download as an audio file to your computer or mp3 player (such as an iPod) to listen to.

The podcast was recorded live from our practical archaeology course on Cranborne Chase in Dorset. You can hear interviews with expert archaeologists, and course participants describing their experiences on the dig.

Visit our Events Blog to find out more and to download the podcast.

Archaeocast 1: Excavation Podcast

Wessex Archaeology has launched its first podcast. A podcast is just like a radio programme which you can listen to here, in your web browser, or download to listen to whenever you like on your computer or mp3 player (such as an iPod). Find out more about podcasting in our podcasting guide.
It visits the excavations on Cranborne Chase in Dorset, where we are running our annual practical archaeology course. In the podcast we hear from Martin Green, the local farmer and famous archaeologist, who explains about the prehistoric landscape in which his farm and the dig are set.
Chris Ellis, project officer for the excavation, explains about the skills being taught on the course, and what has been uncovered during the first week of digging.
Lastly, we hear from two course participants to find out how they are finding their first taste of life as archaeologists, and their experiences on the dig.

13:50 minutes (12.67 MB)

Dig Blog! Training excavation online

The blog on this years annual training excavation run by Wessex Archaeology is now online at

As 15 beginners experience excavation for the first time, the blog will chart their story.

The excavation runs for two weeks, until Friday 16th September.

Recent discoveries at Avebury

The South (West Kennet) Avenue at Avebury is part of one of the greatest surviving concentrations of monuments from the Neolithic (4000-2000 BC) and Bronze Age (2400-700 BC) in Western Europe.

British Telecom cables, running alongside the road parallel to the Avenue, need updating. So Bob Davis of Wessex Archaeology was asked to work with the BT engineer to record any significant finds uncovered during the maintenance work.

While digging under the cable trench to the north end of the Avenue, Bob uncovered a small pit containing cattle bones and fragments of pottery. Similar pits had been discovered in the 1930s when Alexander Keiller carried out investigations between the stones of the Avenue and within the great henge itself.

The exact date and function of these pits has remained a mystery. The deposits follow a similar pattern, with cattle bones and pottery sherds placed deliberately within the pits, suggesting that a ritual has taken place.

The pottery in this pit, as in many others in the area, is of a type known as Mortlake pottery, dating between 3400-2500 BC.

The cattle bones are being sent for radiocarbon dating which will give useful information not only about this newly discovered pit, but also about the ones dug some 70 years ago when such precise dating tests were not available.

School children from three local primary schools were at Avebury taking part in an education project with Wessex Archaeology and World Heritage Sites. They had an unexpected treat when they were invited to handle objects fresh from the ground where they had been buried for more than 4,000 years.

See the full story at

National Archaeology Day

Saturday’s National Archaeology Day was a resounding success. Six hundred people enjoyed the many free activities on offer at Salisbury Museum organised by staff from Wessex Archaeology, the Wiltshire Conservation Centre, the Cathedral Stonemasons and the Museum. Phil Harding’s demonstration of flint knapping drew the crowds throughout the day and the Stonehenge lecture by Dr Julie Gardiner was well attended. Mike O’Leary’s ‘tall stories, short, fat and thin stories’ were very popular with the younger visitors who also proudly carried home more than 100 clay gargoyles, pebble monsters and decorated goblets at the end of their busy day.

Archaeology Rocks!

Once again Salisbury Museum is playing host to this year’s free National Archaeology Day on July 16th. Staff from Wessex Archaeology, the Wiltshire Conservation Centre and the Museum are joining forces to make this the biggest and best opportunity for everyone to enjoy archaeology at first hand. This year the theme is ’stone and glass’, so as well as the ever popular mini-digs and the chance to find out more about marine archaeology, there will be other activities with stone and glass in mind, from making a gargoyle to decorating a medieval goblet. The fun will begin at 10.00am when Phil Harding of Time Team and Wessex Archaeology opens the event. Phil will be demonstrating flint knapping throughout the day, and there will also be a chance to see the Cathedral stonemasons at work. There really will be something for everyone - from the gripping tales of storyteller Mike O’Leary to the Stonehenge lecture given by Dr Julie Gardiner.

Eight hundred people came to last year’s event, and this National Archaeology Day promises to be more popular than ever.

Excavations in Winchester

Excavations have been taking place in Jewry Street, Winchester, prior to the building of new flats, offices and a restaurant.

The site lies inside the Iron Age enclosure of Oram’s Arbour and within the Roman town of Venta Belgarum and the Saxon town of King Alfred. In the medieval period houses lined Jewry Street, the homes of tradesmen and craftsmen - amongst them weavers, bookbinders and carpenters. Archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology have uncovered a deep pit or cellar, evidently connected with the medieval buildings.

Work continues until 29th June.

Recent discoveries at Boscombe Down

The most recent excavations at Boscombe Down have thrown new light on a baffling question: why were the Amesbury Archer and the Boscombe Bowmen, men with apparently strong links to Stonehenge , buried here, some 4 miles away?

The discovery of Neolithic and Bronze Age features at Boscombe Down offer an explanation. A remarkable Neolithic pit circle and a Bronze Age barrow, ring ditch and enclosure clearly made this area the focus of ritual activity, a site that belongs in the Stonehenge landscape.

Read the article "A ritual landscape at Boscombe Down"…

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