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Roman finds in Winchester

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

The latest discovery at Jewry Street has been a row of up to 8 Roman cess pits, running in a line north to south through the middle of the site. They lie half way between two Roman streets and either served a public building or, more likely, lay to the rear of the houses which fronted the two streets. The pits are cut 5-6 metres deep into the underlying chalk and only one other like them has been found in Winchester.

The pits are an exciting source of evidence: as well as degraded human waste, they contain fragments of pottery, building materials and many animal bones.

Small items have been found: bronze finger rings, a fine bone pin, tweezers and coins accidentally dropped into the pits nearly 2,000 years ago.

The most valuable information may well come from the smallest finds of all - the remains of mineralised seeds, fruit stones and insects, which will give us more evidence of the diet and way of life in Roman Winchester.

Lifting of Historic Building postponed

The proposed lifting of a Victorian granary in the Dorset village of Sutton Waldron has had to be temporarily postponed due to technical difficulties. A new lifting date has yet to be confirmed, but once the new date is set it will be posted here on Wessex Archaeology’s website.

Excavation continues in Winchester

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

Archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology continue to uncover evidence of Winchester’s past at 19-20 Jewry Street before the start of building work later this month.

Apart from the medieval cellar which extends the full width of the property, numerous pits and wells dug in the 16th-18th centuries have largely destroyed evidence of earlier periods.

Historic Building to be lifted by crane and to new site

This entry was authored in 2005, and while it will no longer be updated, is left here for general interest.

On: Thursday 20th October 2005, 10:30-15:00

At: Vale Farm, Sutton Waldron near Shaftesbury, Dorset

A 150 year old building will be picked by a crane and carried to a new location this Thursday.

The building is a type of granary which was once common across Wessex, but which is now rare. The granary is to be moved to a new site and converted into a holiday cottage.

This challenging piece of engineering needs a mobile crane to move the delicate 2.5 tonne granary from its current location to its new home.

Instead of having normal foundations the granary, which was built in 1856, sits on top of large carved stones that resemble mushrooms, known as staddles. These support the building above ground level and were shaped to prevent rats getting into the building where they could eat the stored grain. They were once a common sight around farms, but this is no longer so with only the staddles remaining as garden ornaments.

Owners, John and Sarah Drake said ‘we are commercial dairy farm and also have holiday cottages, but these are so popular that we need more space. This is an excellent way to preserve our heritage by finding new uses for a building that is otherwise redundant and starting to fall down. All it takes to move it is a big crane!’

Bob Hill, a Senior Project Manager with the Conservation Management Team at Wessex Archaeology who has managed the whole process added ‘moving the building in one piece may sound odd, but it really makes life a lot easier and helps to ensure it is brought back into use as soon as possible.’


Filming Opportunities

The granary will be;

� airborne for approximately 30 minutes in the late morning

in transit for approximately 60 minutes around midday

airborne for approximately 30 minutes in the early afternoon as it is lowered into its new position.

High resolution images (300 dpi)

Images of the granary in its current location, including one showing the timber beam with the date 1856 and the initials of the builder carved into it, are posted here, for free download.

Briefing Notes

Farmers Sarah and John Drake run Vale Farm at Sutton Waldron, a small village on the edge of the Blackmore Vale south of Shaftesbury in Dorset. Their main farm activity is a 150 head dairy herd that they run over 250 acres of the rolling countryside.

Along with many other farmers, Mr & Mrs Drake have added new enterprises to their business to provide extra income. Over recent years they have converted several late 19th century redundant cattle buildings into three holiday cottages. These cottages attract visitors to the area from all over the UK and Europe and this in turn helps bring additional income into the local community. Details can be found on

Because of the popularity of their cottages, they need to provide additional accommodation to meet demand and to achieve this they have recently obtained planning permission to convert two further buildings to holiday cottages. Both are former granaries where one is late 19th century and brick built whilst the other is timber framed, sits on staddles and was built in 1856. It is this building that is going to be moved to a new position on Thursday 20 October.

This staddle granary is a traditional timber framed building, but instead of having normal foundations it is sat on top of large carved stones that resemble mushrooms and are known as staddles. These supported the building above the ground level and were shaped to prevent rats getting into the building where they could eat the stored grain. They were once a common sight around the farms of Wessex, but this is no longer so with only the staddles remaining as garden ornaments.

In its original position the staddle granary is not re-usable because of the need to separate adequately the farm’s guests from everyday farming activities. It will also allow a more efficient use of space within the main farmyard. In the new location the staddle granary will compliment an historic timber framed barn, which it is hoped will be repaired and possibly re-used in the near future.

Once in its new position the building will be converted into a small two-bedroom holiday cottage with all modern facilities such as central heating, shower room and fully fitted kitchen. The work will be carried out carefully to make it compliant with modern regulations such as safety, energy conservation and also to extend its life. At the same time many of the original finishes and features of the granary will be carefully restored and retained to preserve its overall character.

In this scheme Sarah and John Drake have received assistance from Conservation Management, a specialist division of Salisbury based Wessex Archaeology that is probably Europe’s largest independent commercial archaeological contracting and consultancy organisation. Conservation Management provides a wide range of professional practical and technical assistance to those managing and involved with historic man made structures and landscapes. The project manager for this scheme is Bob Hill who is both a chartered building surveyor and a building archaeologist.

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

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