On Saturday 2nd March 2013, Wessex Archaeology hosted the 15th meeting of the Professional Zooarchaeology Group. The group was set up in 2005 to facilitate the exchange of ideas between animal bone specialists and to establish a mutually-beneficial support network providing continued professional development to its members. Meetings are held twice yearly at venues throughout the UK, the theme of the most recent meeting was mammalian carnivores in the archaeological record: methodological and interpretive aspects. The morning seminar session included talks on everything from cave bears to wolves, and polecats to ferrets, while the afternoon session was taken up with the practicalities of trying to differentiate between closely relate species.
More about the Professional Zooarchaeology Group.
Recent excavations at Harris Manchester College, Oxford, produced a number of cylindrical marmalade jars, recovered with other debris from a feature interpreted as a store-room. Three jars were kept as a sample. All bear the mark of the Keiller marmalade company of Dundee.
The origins of Keiller’s marmalade are supposed to lie, possibly apocryphally, in a shipment of over-ripe Seville oranges bought by James Keiller and used by his wife, Janet, to make marmalade. The brand was founded in 1797, as the first commercial marmalade brand, and its defining characteristic from the beginning was the characteristic scraps of rind in the preserve. By the late 19th century it was being exported around the world.
Each of the three jars from the College store-room carries a different transfer-printed label, which date the jars to different points in the company’s history. The earliest bears the legend ‘James Keillers [sic] Marmalade, Dundee’. The company became James Keiller & Son in 1828, so this jar must date between 1797 and 1828. The second jar has a more ornate label, which boasts the ‘Only Prize Medal for Marmalade, London, International Exhibition, 1862’, while the third carries a similar label, but also including the ‘Grand Medal of Merit Vienna 1873’. The design of the latter continued in use until the end of the 19th century, but the addition of a date letter ‘H’ below the wreath on the label dates this jar to 1880.
Staff from the Sheffield office have recently undertaken a community archaeology project at Wortley Tin Mill, Barnsley in collaboration with Hunshelf Parish Council, the East Peak Innovation Partnership and the South Yorkshire Industrial History Society. The project involved the production of a desk-based assessment, landscape survey and on-site and off-site training.
The site formed the southernmost works of a group in the Penistone and Tankersley parish area known as Wortley Forges, which were significant in their early adoption and pioneering of iron working techniques. It is commonly held that in 1743 a tin mill was constructed on the site, one of the earliest such operations outside of Wales. Its subsequent reuse as a rolling mill in the 19th century appears to have not significantly altered the works despite its subsequent demolition.
An important contemporary description of the tin mill is provided by R. R. Angerstein in his Illustrated Travel Diary 1753–55: Industry in England and Wales from a Swedish perspective (Berg 2001, 219). He describes the tin mill as comprising a rolling mill with reheating furnaces, a workshop for annealing and the removal of scale, a workshop for pickling and scouring and another one with three pots for tinning, polishing and the removal of the thick tin on the lower edge. Around the turn of the 19th century the mill ceased tin plating, concentrating on the production of rolled bars and plate. Correspondence from the last quarter of 1887 relates how the Earl of Wharncliffe was looking to sell off the machinery at the tin mill, with a suggestion that the machinery had been ‘blown up’ in December of that year destroying the rolls. Historic map evidence shows that the site was in decline by the end of the 19th century; this decline appears complete by the beginning of the 20th century.
Archaeological surveys were conducted at the Site during the 1980s and 2000s. The recent survey, involving members of the local community, largely confirmed previous work, indicating little had changed at the site. The positions of possibly three water wheels were identified. The first had an associated curving head race located within a terrace created from two stone walls. A southern building separated into two cells by an internal division was also identified next to the wheel.
The second wheel related to the main building complex shown on the 1855 OS map and almost certainly post-dated the third wheel. The third wheel was located well away from the buildings identified on the 1855 map and may relate to an earlier structure. Other features identified at the site included a tail race for two of the wheels and workers cottages.
The desk based research and site survey has helped establish the significance of the site, the current condition of the extant structures and has outlined a number of further research questions for the site.
Last week we saw the directors of Salisbury Museum and Wiltshire Heritage Museum warning their local authority that planning conditions which include archaeological intervention are no longer sustainable. All because of the lack of suitable archive storage. In recent days the problem of archive deposition has been discussed in British Archaeology and on the Today Programme on BBC Radio 4 (ref 2hrs 53 min).
Wessex Archaeology has been looking at how we can help solve these problems for several years. We know that there is no single answer but we are determined to play our part. Our own frustrations with closed repositories have prompted us to warn our clients that they may face on-going problems due to unfulfilled planning conditions. To help our clients and the wider audience understand the situation we have collated a set of questions and answers which, we hope, set out our position clearly.
In March we will be attending the meeting of the The Archaeological Archives Forum where we will be sharing our experiences of successful solutions. We have been working with the Archaeology Data Service to develop a protocol for the archive storage of digital photographs and have supported museums in their work to enhance and implement retention policies for archaeological material.
We will continue to support our clients in their efforts to meet planning conditions and wish to work with local authorities and museums curators to achieve those ends. We will also join our colleagues in the effort to lobby at local and national levels for a considered and coherent long term plan.
The Sheffield Office has recently undertaken excavation and recording of the site of the former Moorgate Mill in Blackburn, adjacent to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Excavation and documentary research revealed numerous phases of rebuilding, renovation and extension in the development of the mill from its construction in the 1830s, through fires in 1869, 1886 and 1925, to its recent demolition. Artefacts recovered from the investigations, predominantly pottery, ceramics, glass and CBM, appear to relate to the use of the site as a spinning and weaving mill from the 1840s through to the late 1920s.
The original six storey construction of the Mill was begun in 1836 by John Parkinson. In 1841 the mill passed to Joseph Eccles, a local entrepreneur, who gradually improved and expanded the mill until his death in 1861.
The excavation focused on three areas to the west, east and south-east of the site. Structural evidence relating to the early phases of development of the site from the 1830s to the 1870s included the western wall of the weaving sheds, walls enclosing the steam engine and boiler room on the eastern side of the mill and partially surviving flagstone floors and base plinths to support roof struts. Historic mapping from 1841 shows a gas holder on the Moorgate Street frontage in the early phases of development and firebrick from a gas retort arch was found in this area indicating that gas was probably produced on the site, most likely for lighting in the mill and associated buildings. Also identified was a long flue tunnel taking exhaust fumes from the steam boilers to a chimney at the southern side of the site.
Fires in 1869 and 1886 would have resulted in extensive rebuilding to the mill buildings, although it was difficult to precisely correlate what we know historically with the recorded structures. By the 1890s the size of the mill had grown to occupy almost the whole plot of land. Some of the developments noted during this phase were probably alterations and additions carried out by Edwin Hamer between 1911 and 1914, the most visible aspect of which was the surviving sign left by the canal bank. External structures were added to the weaving sheds and modifications were made with the drainage and flue tunnel.
Despite all the renovations the mill did not survive and the machinery was sold off in 1933 and the mill closed. For 67 years the mill buildings were used as a warehouse for processing artificial yarn. Developments in this phase relate to internal concrete partitions, re-flooring and internal and external drainage.
In 2008 demolition of the extant buildings was carried out in preparation for the plot to be developed into housing. Evidence of the demolition and landscaping of the site was seen in all excavated areas.
Services to English Heritage in respect of marine designation 2013-15
Wessex Archaeology are very pleased to announce they have been awarded a contract for the provision of services in relation to marine designation for 2013-15 on behalf of English Heritage. Wessex Archaeology has worked with English Heritage on designated and undesignated wreck sites since 2003, pioneering an innovative approach to the recording and interpretation of cultural heritage and archaeology underwater. We look forward to developing new ideas with English Heritage and its partners over the contract period and continuing to deliver high quality evidence based recommendations to assist with the protection of our shared maritime heritage. We have been delighted to undertake this work for the last 10 years and we look forward to continuing for the next two years.
In May and June 2012 the Sheffield Office undertook excavation and recording of an 18th century garden feature, a former water cascade within the grounds of Bramham Park, Wetherby, West Yorkshire. The Grade 1 listed grounds and park at Bramham were laid out during the period 1700–1713 for the Benson family, and include early water garden features which have not often survived in contemporary gardens. Repair and restoration of the features is underway and the recent excavation work focused on a former cascade feeding water from a reservoir pond to a parterre garden, cut into a terrace to the immediate rear of Bramham House.
A plan of Bramham Park by John Wood the Elder in 1728 indicates that water in this cascade "falls 21 feet on thirty steps". However the cascade appears to have only operated as a temporary feature and fell out of use at a fairly early date due to an inadequate water supply. Attempts were made to try and improve the water flow, including the removal of almost all the steps and their replacement with a stone-capped culvert. However, this too seems to have failed and the culvert and cascade were covered over by the end of the 18th century. The results of the excavation, including laser scanning of the excavated cascade and extant fountain, are now being used by the project team at Bramham to inform restoration proposals. A watching brief on the restoration of the Rocky Cascade is on-going.
In June 2012 the Sheffield team recorded the Bishop’s Mill and the former 1940s Ice Rink at Durham. Although the original Bishop’s Mill was first mentioned in 1183, one of eight medieval mills on the River Wear, the surviving ‘Bishop’s Mill’ is first recorded on a 1754 plan. Level 3 survey employed laser scanning to produce metrically accurate plans and sections.
At least 6 phases were identified ranging from the late 18th to early 20th centuries. The mill buildings had been adapted in the 1940s to accommodate refrigeration and electrical generating plant serving the adjacent former Durham Ice Rink, and elements of this plant remained within the building at the time of survey, although no original mill machinery, gearing or waterwheel had been retained.
Between April and June 2012 a team from Wessex Archaeology’s Sheffield office carried out the excavation of two sites on the Severn Trent Pipeline between Mythe and Mitcheldean, Gloucester. The work revealed late Iron Age field systems and enclosures and the stone foundations of a Romano-British villa, probably dating from the 2nd century AD. An associated waterhole, field systems and enclosures were also revealed.
A watching brief along the entire pipeline route was completed in December 2012. The team have valiantly worked through some atrocious weather conditions.
Announcing Wessex Archaeology’s stock image site, an online archaeological image bank aimed at publishers and museums.
Over the years we have amassed many photographs of artefacts, people engaged in archaeological activities and artists impressions. We already offer many of them free for educational purposes on our Flickr site but thought it was time to make it easier to purchase the copyright for publication or display purposes via an online service.
We are trying to keep the pricing as competitive as possible and are happy to discuss discounts for bulk purchases. Your feedback is important on this so please let us know your thoughts.
Currently we have artefact images readily available but keep an eye on the site as we will be adding more and more content over the following weeks and months. We hope you like the site and find it useful.