Rob Goller's blog

Tilda’s work experience − ‘much more than digging up bones and pottery’

 
During my week at Wessex Archaeology (17−21 July 2017) I was given the opportunity to spend time in each of the departments and in doing so I discovered that archaeology is much more than digging up bones and pottery. It was great to learn how each of the departments linked together in order to piece together a part of time history.
 
Monday 
 
On Monday I was greeted by Linda who gave me a tour of Wessex Archaeology and a brief introduction to the different departments found there. It was surprising to see the variety and standard of equipment they had, and I was intrigued to find out how all of the different departments operated during my week.
I spent the morning with Erica and the team in the Finds department. I was shown the final part of the finds process by Rob and Sophie where they are packaged up and referenced before they are put into museums or storage. 
Later, I was taken to Roberta and Vi in the Geomatics department where I got an insight on processes including photogrammetry, surveying and using software such as CAD. Roberta showed me the work she had done using photogrammetry on a grave − it was amazing to see how the program pieced together hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of photos to create an accurate, detailed image. After this, Vi took me to the carpark where I had a go at GPS mapping and marking a stake-out.
 
Tuesday
 

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On Tuesday, I started off the day working in the Environmental department with Sam where I was shown how soil samples were sieved and sorted once they had been washed. I got to work with a sample taken from a burial site where I used a graded sieve to separate the sample into different grain sizes, then, working with the coarsest bits I picked out anything that was of archaeological interest. For example, I found bits of pottery, struck flint and human bone.
I was then introduced to Inés and I had a go at looking at the flot (anything that floated during the washing stage) under a microscope. The charred seeds and snail shells that were present would help to deduce the type of environment the soil came from.
In the afternoon, I was back in the Finds department, but this time I was helping with the first part of the process: cleaning. With just a toothbrush and a bowl of water I began cleaning bits of pottery, piece by piece.  
 
Wednesday
 
Wednesday was the day of my site visit; I was taken to a dig at Chisenbury midden by Phil. The site focused on the excavation of postholes, one of which I was able to dig myself. I discovered a lot of horse bones and a few pieces of pottery. Visiting Chisenbury gave me an insight of the range of skills needed in order for a dig to run smoothly.
When I got back to the office, I was taken to the Environmental department to see Sam again. This time I was shown how the soil samples are washed when they first arrive. After the sample had been washed, the clean sediment was placed into a kiln to remove any water before it was then sieved. 
 
Thursday
 
On Thursday morning I was given a tour and quick introduction to the Coastal & Marine department by Lowri, where she showed me some artefacts which had been discovered by dredgers and how important it is that they are reported if found. The finds included a mammoth tooth, a cannonball and machine gun parts.I was then given a tour of Unit 2 by Joaquín, where many of the finds and their diving equipment are kept. Many of the finds are kept in water to preserve them and to slowly decrease their salinity. It was overwhelming to see the vast amount of equipment needed for diving and how well organised it needed to be.
After lunch, I was introduced to Kirsten, the senior Osteoarchaeologist. First, she showed me a couple of skulls and told me how you can identify the gender from looking at the shape of facial features such as the chin and eye sockets. We then pieced together a full skeleton and explained how you can identify if they had any diseases and wounds. The person we looked at had gum disease and also, because the bone had an odd porous texture in places, syphilis. 
 
Friday
 
I spent Friday morning with Holly in the Geoarchaeology department. I was really looking forward to this as I study geology at school and am hoping to continue studying it at university; so I was interested to see how much crossover there would be. First, Holly showed me how she would analyse and interpret a borehole sample by looking at the colour, consistency and anything else of interest such as snail shells. 
We then went to her computer where I wrote up my description and interpretation of the borehole. Holly then introduced me to a software called Rock Works, where I input the lithology and stratigraphy of the borehole, which can then be used to produce a stratigraphy diagram.
 
I have thoroughly enjoyed my week with everyone at Wessex Archaeology, it has opened my eyes to the variety of expertise involved in archaeology and it was great to be able to spend time in each department.
 
I would like to thank Rachel Brown for organising my week of work experience and everyone I got to work with for making my time at Wessex Archaeology so fascinating.
 
 
Tilda Julien

Festival of Archaeology open day at Hollis Croft and former Titanic Works: It was a great success!

 
 
‘It belongs in a museum!’  − these words, said by Indiana Jones often ring out from members of the public when we get a chance to talk about what we have found in our careers as commercial archaeologists. But rather than merely hear tales of treasure, Wessex Archaeology was able to welcome 40 members of the public onto our hotly anticipated site tours of Hollis Croft, and 24 members of the public at the former Titanic Works, Sheffield as part of the Festival of Archaeology on Friday 20 July 2017. 
 
 

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Sheffield wears its identity as the ‘Steel City’ with pride, and the opportunity to explore the industrial past that gives our seven hills its namesake was taken up with avid enthusiasm by the media and public alike. At Hollis Croft, we started off with in-house filming from Wessex Archaeology's film crew of one, Rob Goller, (pic. 1) who began our visual archive of the cementation furnaces and interviews with our very own women of steel, Mili Rajic, Project Manager and Emma Carter, Site Supervisor. The complex industrial landscape at Hollis Croft was artfully unpicked and explained into Rob’s camera which gave both Mili and Emma a chance to warm up before ITV, BBC Look North, BBC Radio Sheffield and The Sheffield Star came to do interviews later that day! (pic. 2). 
 
 
Further down the hill, Lucy Dawson, Built Heritage Project Manager, and Chris Breeden, Spatial Data and Digital Innovation Manager, were carrying out the important gas safety checks donning full breathing apparatus and setting up temporary lighting within the preserved and Grade II listed crucible furnace cellars at the former Titanic Works  in preparation of the media heading to them after being wowed at Hollis Croft (pic. 3). The confined spaces of the cellars meant that only a small number of people were allowed within them at any one time (pic. 4). 
 
 
The level of preservation at Hollis Croft and the former Titanic Works makes both sites very special, expressed at Titanic Works by its listing and preservation in situ, and to have the passion and interest shared by the media was a wonderful experience. What we didn't anticipate, however, was the sheer number of members of the public who also shared our enthusiasm for the archaeology (pic. 5). After Mili’s two radio interviews on Friday morning (BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Sheffield) the Hollis Croft site began to receive a steady stream of visitors keen to explore their curiosity for the site. Our places on the organised four tours across both sites had already been filled and yet more and more people with interests and even family connections to the sites wished and queued to have a place on the tours. Thanks to thinking on our feet and the extra supply of PPE we were able to offer additional places on our tours at Hollis Croft throughout the day (pic. 6). Unfortunately, this was not possible at Titanic Works due to the confined spaces. Rob headed to the Titanic Works site on the Friday morning to continue the in-house filming of the site and one of the tours. 
 
 
We often look at archaeology from the removed position of the present, but Hollis Croft and the former Titanic Works brought out some very real, poignant memories from our visitors, not least the two ladies who had worked in Sheffield’s cutlery factory and also a member of the public whose family owned business Foot Print Tools which stood on the site at Hollis Croft prior to its demolition and development. It is these first-hand accounts and connections that bring the past alive and we are very grateful for the vast interest and kind words from the public for our sites and our work. 
 
 
Some things indeed ‘belong in a museum’, but we are very fortunate to be given the chance to store those relics through memory and experience of the people of Sheffield.
 
We have been inundated with further requests for tours and we were able to offer a second opportunity to see the Hollis Croft site with two guided tours on Friday 28 July. 
 
In addition, please keep an eye out for further information about future open days at the former Titanic Works. Watch this space!
 
 
A very big thank you goes to everyone at Wessex Archaeology Sheffield office and especially to people who over the last four months worked hard at Hollis Croft: Emma, Amy, Gwen, Justina, Otis, Owen, Ifi, Max, Ciaran, James, Chris, Andrea, Caroline, Alvaro, Ash, Dan, Phil, Nick, Heather, Jonathan, Jamal, Sam, Matt, Mike, Adam and Stu.
 
A big thank you also to SYAS Principal Archaeologist Dinah Saich, to Katy Taylor from TT Communications and to our clients Jonson Associates and Watkins Jones. 
 
 
Emma Carter (Archaeologist), Lucy Dawson (Project Manager, Built Heritage) and Mili Rajic (Senior Archaeologist)

Palaeolithic Flints From Submerged Landscapes

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The Marine Aggregate Industry Archaeological Protocol encourages the reporting and recording of maritime archaeological finds discovered by the aggregate industry during dredging works. The discoveries that come to light form a database of maritime archaeological finds that otherwise may have been discarded. The scheme boasts the reporting of 1600 finds since its launch in 2005 ranging from metal artefacts to timber and flints.
 
Arguably the most important collection of flint finds reported through the Protocol were recorded on 13 February 2008 as Hanson_0133. The finds were reported by Hanson Aggregates Marine Ltd, (the licensee) and described as ‘28 x hand axes, mammoth molars, tusk fragments and antlers’, and they were recovered from Area 240, a dredging area situated approximately 11 km east of the Norfolk coast. On further analysis, it was established that 88 flint artefacts were present in the assemblage, classified as 33 hand axes, eight cores, and 47 complete and fragmentary flakes. 
In 2014, this important discovery was published in the Journal of Quaternary Science and in 2015 Seabed Prehistory Investigating the Palaeogeography and Early Middle Palaeolithic Archaeology in the Southern North Sea, which discusses the finds in detail, was published. The analysis of the assemblage found that the Area 240 lithic material could be considered typologically heterogeneous. The finds were characterized by the occurrence of cordiform or sub-cordiform hand axes, and included a substantial proportion of well-made Levallois products. Around 20% of the identified finds were of Levallois technique and just over 25% of the flakes were diagnostically Levallois manufacture. Both cordiform and sub-cordiform hand axe types could represent Late Middle Palaeolithic, Mousterian or Acheulean Tradition (MTA) products. Alternatively, the hand axes may be older, of Lower Palaeolithic or Early Middle Palaeolithic (EMP) origin and be broadly contemporary with the Levallois material. It was found that on 13 of the flakes, retouch was evident. 

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The majority of the artefacts indicated that rolled raw flint nodules were likely to have been sourced from river deposits. Area 240 is situated in the lower reaches of the Palaeo-Yare river system. For most of the last one million years the area has been part of a coastal or inland environment because of lowered sea levels. The assessment of the palaeolandscape (using geophysical and geotechnical data), palaeoenviromental material and sediment dating indicate an EMP age for the assemblage.
The identification of the initial ‘chance’ finds of flint led to a regional study being conducted on Area 240. The results of the wider regional study demonstrated that submerged landscapes can preserve in situ artefacts. The investigations confirmed that the artefacts found after the initial encounter were not ‘chance’ finds, but indicated clear relationships to submerged and buried geomorphological features. Palaeolandscapes, although complex, can be examined in detail using a variety of existing field and analytical methods. Through close collaboration between archaeologists, regulators and industry it has been possible to go beyond an assessment of potential submerged prehistory and identification of buried geomorphological features, and investigate the archaeology and its wider palaeogeographical context.
 
By Andrea Hamel Senior Archaeologist
 
 
 

Week Two of Euan O’Neill's Work Experience

 

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The timetable for my second week was Monday to Thursday digging at Rossington and Friday back at the Wessex Archaeology Sheffield office. At the office, I needed to return my PPE, do some environmental sample processing and write this blog.
 
On the Monday, I had to finish filling out my context forms and registering a few pieces of information about a ditch I dug the previous week (at this point we had moved to a different site sub division). I had forgotten most of this information but because we had to cross reference everything, all of it was recorded in different ways making it easy for me to finish what I had already started. Once I had finished that I was asked to dig a ditch slot similar to the previous one, however, it was part of a different ditch. I was getting a good idea of a professional working environment while learning new things.
 
I had to finish digging the section and cleaning it for photographs. When this was complete, I moved onto preparing my slot for photographs. I had to clear out the crumbling material with a trowel so that the difference between the natural and archaeological material could be seen. I also had to clear out loose material within one metre of the feature for the same reason. Once that was finished I then set up the camera to take some photos. I noticed that I was remembering everything I had to do and that hopefully I was improving. The pictures were taken and a register kept of the photos. After all the necessary tasks had been completed, I started digging another slot for another ditch that I would finish the next day.
 
It had rained for most of Tuesday night and it had begun raining again before I had set off to work. I met the other fieldworkers at the usual point around seven but we were waiting in the pouring rain desperate to get going, however despite starting on our journey to site the rain was too bad and we came back to the office. Back at the office we found other jobs to do such as the processing and quantifying of finds.
 
On Thursday I headed out to the Rossington site for the last time. I had enjoyed going out on site for many reasons. I had learned new skills and terms as well as a good idea of how I would do this in the future. We arrived on site only to find that pretty much all of the features had been filled with muddy water and that the material was very delicate now. This made it difficult to excavate but not impossible. I began finishing my ditch slot after first break. It had just started to rain during our break meaning some tasks such as the clearing of loose material had to be repeated. I was done with the feature just before our lunch break leaving me the remaining afternoon to finish my written tasks. During our break, we had a good long chat about my time on site and whether I had enjoyed it. In the afternoon all I had to do was draw my feature, fill out my context forms and record any remaining information. The others helped me where I had made mistakes, but there were much fewer than when I had first started and I was very pleased to hear positive comments from other staff. I had completed my work and proceeded to help the others in simple ways. The day then ended and I shook the hands of everyone there back in Sheffield saying goodbye before going home.
 
Friday was my last day of work experience and so I was a bit sad because I had really loved my time at Wessex Archaeology. I did like having a different timetable, two weeks without school specifically. I got to the office at around 9:15 and returned my PPE which included the hard hat, high visibility jacket, gloves and steel toe cap boots. I then spoke to Lucy who took me to the compound where the samples were stored and where they were processed. I had been there on Wednesday when we were rained off site. I was shown the floatation tanks and how they separate and analyse material from the samples. I learned how the light material such as seeds and charcoal floats, and how the heavy material such as stones, bone fragments and even debitage sinks. It was really interesting that they could tell about the environment years ago from the samples. I stopped for lunch thinking about how I would write this blog and what exactly I would put in. When Lucy sat me down at a computer, I was typing it out almost immediately. Work experience gave me a lot of things to think about. How important is archaeology? Might I think about a potential future career in the subject? What does it mean to be a professional archaeologist? Two weeks allowed me to think about these things and I learnt a new skill set that I might call upon in the future. I learnt not just about archaeology, but the importance of being able to communicate with others and present myself in a positive way to my colleagues, as well as getting along with them. I really enjoyed my time at Wessex Archaeology and I think that it has had an impact on how I think about myself. In the future when I chose my occupation, I will be confident in my own work.
 
I would like to thank Lucy, Ivan, Tom, John, Jess, Lizzie, Ciaran, Nick, Chris, Liz, Mike, Phil, Jamal, Alvaro, Richard and Sam for helping me when I was at Wessex Archaeology and for a great work experience.
 
By Euan O’Neill.
 

Thomas Passam’s Work Experience Diary

 

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Monday 19 June
I was met at Reception by Rachel Brown, the Senior Community and Education Officer. From there I was given a talk about Health and Safety and was shown the Fire Assembly Point outside. After that I went on a tour of the building. I was really surprised by how many different departments there were in the company.
 
Next I was taken to meet Roberta Marziani from the Geomatics Department. She spoke to me about 3D imaging and showed me examples of parts of buildings where 3D mapping had been done. I then took photographs of a Saxon pot from every angle using special software and then created it on the computer as a 3D object.
 
After that we went out outside to plot an area using GPS. This accurate method of measuring is used a great deal to map out the archaeological sites on a dig.
 
In the afternoon, I was in the Finds Department and I was cleaning the skeleton of a Saxon male. What was interesting was that he had broken his leg badly at some point during his life. The bones had never reset properly and stuck out at an odd angle; he must have carried on with his life in great discomfort. 
 
Tuesday 20 June
I was doing sample processing in the Environmental Department with Tony Scothern. When I first arrived, I was given an overall and gloves as I was going to be filtering through the soil samples that had been brought in. The soil was in large plastic tubs that were labelled with dates of collection, sample number and site number.
 
A small amount of peroxide plus water had been added to each of the buckets and these were left overnight to help the break-down of the soil so it could be analysed. I washed the soil through a large filter first then it flowed on through to be caught by another filter. Here any solid materials that had previously been missed, were caught in with the solution. Then what was left was put back into a sieve and put into a low-temperature kiln. After that we took out two sieves containing dried-out materials and recorded what was in the sieves and separated the different materials into different bags. There were several pieces of pottery and some burnt flint, as well as some charcoal.
 
After lunch I was working with Jacqueline McKinley, Principal Osteoarchaeologist, where I was taken through the entire skeletal structure of a Saxon male that I had been cleaning the previous day. She taught me about the bone structure, how the male and female skeleton differs and how to calculate the age of a person by looking at how the bones of their skeleton have fused.
 
Wednesday 21 June
On Wednesday I went out with Rachel and Andy Crockett to a site at Bulford. The site has lots of archaeology from different periods and previous excavations revealed many Saxon graves. The remains of about 150 people have been discovered, as well as different artefacts. I met Phil Harding and he gave me a tour of the site which was really interesting. Mechanical diggers and other modern machinery and equipment are used at the site to help to clear the area and remove soil and rubble more quickly.
 
This area was also used to test out anti-tank weapons during World War II to help the Allied Forces to defend themselves against the German tanks.  
 
In the afternoon, I went back to the Finds Department and washed some pieces of Roman pottery with some of the volunteers. 
 
Thursday 22 June
Morning: Marine & Coastal Department
I spoke to the Marine and Coastal Staff working in the offices upstairs and they showed me how the finds are tagged and identified as well as how they analyse their location. Afterwards, I was shown around the large warehouse where many of the large finds are stored. I was shown by diver Joaquin Callejo Gomez the different equipment that was used on a dive. This ranged from oxygen tanks all the way up to different photograph devices. I was shown how the large finds are recovered: a balloon is used to lift the weight of the object up to the surface of the sea. From there it can be lifted by a pulley or crane onto a boat and transported back to be analysed.
 
Afternoon: Heritage
The Heritage Department uses various techniques to see if any famous historic events took place and to identify landmarks and places of importance.I was working with Naomi Brennan using software that had been pre-programmed to allow me to see what historical activity had occurred in my home area over the last few centuries. I found out that several battles had taken place within a mile or two of my house, which was very exciting. I then did some work updating old maps to make sure that the data was correct.
 
Friday 23 June
Photogrammetry
This Department manages to create a clever image by using roughly 70 photos with different flash to enable you to see very fine detail. I collected all the necessary equipment from Bob Davis and then set up the tripod. I was photographing an ancient axe-head and I was also doing the same for a very good quality copy of the axe-head which had been made in recent years. I worked in a systematic manner photographing the pieces in an umbrella-shape. I took over 70 photos of each piece which took a long time. I had to make sure that every photo was precise.  
 
In the afternoon, I used software to make the final image. I was very impressed with the image and the way that the light could be altered in various ways to enable me to see different details. 
 
I really enjoyed my week with Wessex Archaeology and learnt a lot about archaeology and the history in this area, as well as about office life and working in a team. I would like to thank Rachel very much for organising and coordinating my work placement and to everyone at Wessex Archaeology for their help in making my week so interesting.  
 
By Thomas Passam 
 
 
 

Work Experience

 

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My name is Euan O’Neill and I decided to do my work experience at Wessex Archaeology in Sheffield. I am 15 and I have had an interest in the study of Archaeology for some time now because both my parents were involved in the subject and my dad and brother work in archaeology.
 
I didn’t know quite what I would expect in a working environment for the first time so I was eager to try it out. I contacted the company and was put in touch with Lucy Dawson, a project manager. She told me what I would be doing and all the requirements. We went through all the Health and Safety measures and I was given a basic two-week calendar with my working times on it. I was going to be out on site at Rossington for much of my period of work. I was interested to see what I would find waiting for me.
 
On my first day, I was taught how to clean, process and sort finds in the basement floor of the building. These finds consisted mainly of different types of bone and pottery. It was a slow process at first but I soon got better at it over the course of the day. At lunch time, I was fitted with my PPE gear so that I would be ready to go out on site the next day.
 
My first day on site. I woke up and had to get to the office for 7 am to get on a bus taking us to the site. The drive took about an hour but when I got there I got a general introduction, I learnt about what a cut, fill, and feature is, what I would be doing and how to do it. The other people on site were very helpful, giving me tips and highlighting confusing information but I got the gist of it after a short amount of time. Rossington is a Romano-British site but we were unsure on what date it was from and when it was active/used. I was asked to dig a marked posthole before moving onto a terminal. The posthole was easy enough because it was filled with soft clay, but the area where the terminal was located had been hardened because it was baked by the sun and was very difficult to mattock considering I had just started. I was taught how to fill out context forms as well as sketch my feature and record drawings and photographs. On my second day out on site, I got to watch a drone survey the area for a small amount of time but it was still really cool. I enjoyed this work however, I found it interesting and fun in some ways. I went out onto site for a third day and I also dug a ditch filled with some bones and the most pottery I had seen yet! I had to spend Friday in the office because one of my school teachers was sent to see how I was doing (every school student doing work experience is visited by a teacher).
 
We talked about the past week’s work and how later that afternoon I would be doing some environmental processing. At this point, I was happy with everything I had done so far and I couldn’t wait for my second week. I think that the best part of my first week was just being out on site; it was different than a usual day.
 
 By Euan O’Neill
 
 

Hollis Croft, Sheffield – the Cock Public House and the Mystery of a Medieval Coin

 
On 20 April 2017, an Edward I long cross silver penny was found during the excavation of the former site of the Cock, a 19th-century public house, just off Hollis Croft, Sheffield. The penny is remarkable, not just with regards to its age and relative scarcity but also to the context in which it was found. 
 
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Wessex Archaeology Sheffield has been carrying out excavations at the Hollis Croft site ahead of a major urban residential development. This work has targeted several potentially interesting areas; these include examples of back-to-back housing typical of 18th-century urban development in Sheffield and two public houses, the Cock and the Orange Branch, which can both be seen clearly on several 19th-century Ordnance Survey maps. Sheffield has been inhabited since at least the mid-11th century, and is recorded in Domesday in 1086. The Hollis Croft area was, for much of the medieval period, left open and known as Town Field and by the early modern period had been enclosed and subsequently comprised several closes and crofts. It is from these enclosures that many of the current streets, first laid out in the early 18th century, take their names. Over the course of the following two centuries ‘The Crofts’, as the area would come to be known, was to become a centre for manufacture and trade, particularly that of the metal trades such as cutlery. The scale of this industry would continue to increase until the widespread decline of manufacturing in Sheffield during the late 20th century. The Hollis Croft area came to be largely the property of one company, Footprint Works, which was established in 1944.
 
During the 1960s the site was developed, with the construction of a Footprint Tools building. It was considered likely that this development would have destroyed any archaeological remains, however the excavations carried out by Wessex have demonstrated that this was not the case. The site has so far produced a variety of finds, although the lack of any obvious residential occupation of Town Field during the medieval period means that medieval artefacts have proved few and far between; the majority of the archaeological material identified dates from the site’s industrial occupation. Amongst this material there were a large number of leather shoes and a substantial deposit of decorated but unfinished bone handles, reflecting the high density of craftsmen and manufacturers listed as having been resident in Hollis Croft in the late 19th-century Trade Directories.
 
The first reference to the Cock Public House, where the coin was discovered, is in the Henry & Thomas Rodgers Sheffield & Rotherham Directory from 1841. The pub is also shown on an 1853 Ordnance Survey map and its name – the Cock – probably comes from the stop-cock used on contemporary beer casks. 
The aim of the archaeological investigation was to enhance the understanding of the early phases of the construction of this part of the city to compliment the extensive late 18th- and 19th-century archival evidence. An awareness of earlier phases is central to Wessex’s methodology so the coin clearly holds significance. But why was a medieval coin found in such a late context? The rarity of the find and the location raised immediate questions of authenticity and some of us thought the coin was a fake. Visualisations of cheeky Yorkshire pub locals with tricks up their sleeves and fakes in their pockets are enticing for a born and bred Sheffielder such as myself. However, when inspected by experts, the authenticity of the coin was confirmed. To further determine the coin was the real thing, its composition was tested. It was found to be 93% percent silver with small traces of iron, gold and magnesium. It has therefore been identified as a silver penny from the reign of Edward I, with a bold long cross embossed on its reverse and the face of the king on the obverse.
 
The obverse face of the penny showed a more realistic portrait of the monarch than had be previously been usual and also depicted him facing forward as opposed to in profile. The reverse showed a long cross, equal armed and stretching from one edge to the other. We know that any silver penny with these attributes must have been minted within the 39-year reign of Edward I, more than five centuries prior to the establishment of the Cock Public House. 
 
Edwardian coins are important when studying the economic history of later medieval England. Monetary denominations had changed very little in the five hundred years prior to the coronation of Edward I in 1272AD but he would soon make some sizable reforms. The long cross was originally introduced as a device to make more difficult the clipping and splitting which had previously been used to divide the penny into the literal half penny or farthing.  Edward I also introduced other new coins, the groat, halfpenny and farthing, further reducing the need to physically divide larger denomination coinage. The new coins strengthened England’s foreign trade power and the penny proved especially successful because of its high silver content and uniform weight.
 
The coin found at Hollis croft has a chip on the lower side slightly to the left when examining the obverse. The face of Edward I is badly worn, however the reverse long cross and accompanying pattern is clear. The only link the site has with the medieval period is that this area of Sheffield followed the old field boundaries laid out following the enclosure of Town Field. Hollis Croft’s layout is the only clue to the continuity of the inhabited area from the reign of Edward I and the minting of the penny, to the establishment of the Cock public house in the 19th-century.
 
It remains unlikely that the coin’s context will be further illuminated by the planned excavation. The coin could have been dropped by an absent mind in the medieval period, churned up by ploughing, finding its way into material which was reused when the pub was erected. However, firmer conclusions remain out of reach. Although the coin confirms to a degree that the site was being used in some form during the medieval period, the nature of this link is unknown and any more definitive historiography would be speculation.
 
By Oisin Mercer Archaeological Technician
 
 
 
 

Aurochsen

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Aurochs (pr. or-ocks; pl. aurochsen)

An aurochs is a type of wild cattle that lived throughout Europe, North Africa and Asia and became extinct in Britain by the Late Bronze Age. They roamed and grazed in small herds across plains and in open woodland (T O’Connor and N Sykes 2010 Extinctions and Invasions; A social history of British fauna, Oxford).
 

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Aurochs were much larger than modern domesticated cattle, and one of the largest herbivores in Europe post-Ice Age. They had huge curved horns, each horn almost 1 m long, and when standing, bulls could reach 1.8 m shoulder height; taller than many people. The appearance of aurochs has been determined through the study of their bones found on archaeological sites, historical descriptions, and even images of aurochs seen in cave paintings.
 
Aurochs began to be domesticated in South West Asia, and through selective breeding, eventually became the domesticated cattle we know today. Domesticated cattle appear in Britain by the Neolithic period (4000—2400 BC). 
 
Wessex Archaeology has recovered a number of aurochs bones, including their enormous horns, from several archaeological sites across Britain, in particular on Salisbury Plain, as well as in other locations further afield such as Horton (Berkshire). The bones are found on prehistoric sites, frequently in Neolithic contexts such as pits. These pits are often filled with many finds such as flint tools and arrowheads, pottery and animal bone. Some objects within these pits are domestic refuse, whilst other more unusual items appear to have been carefully placed. 
 
By Natalia Hunt

New Staff in Coastal & Marine

My name is Joaquin and I started work with Wessex Archaeology, in the Salisbury office, at the beginning of May. 

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I am a Marine Archaeologist with experience of commercial diving. I graduated in History from the University of Cantabria and have a Masters in Prehistory and Archaeology from the same university. Since then, I have been working freelance on different underwater and terrestrial projects in Spain and Sweden. I got my first commercial diving certificate in 2002 and I have continued to improve my diving skills by working as a marine archaeologist and as a commercial diver. I am ROV Pilot Technician Grade II by IMCA as well. Being an ROV pilot allows me to explore underwater sites in new ways.

These first weeks at Wessex Archaeology I have been trained in terms of work methodology and safety in order to offer better services to our clients. I have also participated in a training day at Vobster Quay where I met the rest of the Coastal & Marine diving team and tested the diving equipment. It was a great day to get familiar with equipment and get to know my new colleagues. 
 
Wessex Archaeology is one of the biggest archaeology companies in UK and in Europe, with a great impact on social media. WA believes in the importance of making our heritage accessible to the public. I am very enthusiastic about this, so now I look forward to being involved with this as well. 
 
To sum up, the position with Wessex Archaeology’s Coastal & Marine team is a great opportunity to be involved in some of the most important marine archaeology projects in the UK. I am sure it will be fascinating, and I am ready to do my best!
 
 

A Tale of St Christopher

 
Back in 2011 Wessex Archaeology undertook work on the site of the proposed Outwood Academy in Adwick-le-Street, Doncaster. This involved evaluation trenching and open area mitigation excavation which uncovered the well-preserved archaeological remains of an Iron Age/Romano-British ditched field system. Between the 1920s and 1960s the land was used as allotments, which left behind evidence such as the foundations of greenhouses and pet burials.
 

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Wessex was contacted by local historian Gerald Sables, whose father had lost a St Christopher pendant on the site back in 1957. The medal had been given to Gerald’s father by his grandmother as a good luck talisman for his car, which he parked in a garage on the site alongside his allotment. St Christopher is said to have carried the infant Christ across a river and for this reason. St Christopher is widely identified as a protector of travellers and drivers. The placement of such a medal in a car is moderately common for this reason.

 
Despite the passage of over 50 years, an excavator was successful in recovering the pendant. Now that work on the archive is completed we have been in contact with Gerald about returning his father’s medal. Unfortunately, Gerald is unwell at present so we’d like to wish him a speedy recovery; hopefully this St Christopher medal may be some inspiration for his journey back to health.
 
Jess Tibber, Finds and Archives Officer (Sheffield Office)
 
 
 
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