Time Team

Time Team Series 17: The Massacre In The Cellar (Hopton Castle, Shropshire)

Broadcast 16 May 2010 | Report available

In 1644, during the Civil War, the Parliamentary garrison of Hopton Castle in Shropshire was besieged and outnumbered by Royalist forces. After weeks of bombardment the garrison surrendered, and the commander was taken prisoner. He was marched out of the castle and lived to fight another day, but his men were not so lucky - all of them were executed and thrown into a pit on the site. Hopton Castle was later slighted by the Royalists, and was never used as a military base again.

The commander of the Hopton garrison, Samuel More, left an eyewitness account of the siege, and this provided an opportunity for Time Team to compare a contemporary account of the Civil War with the archaeological remains, as well as investigating the medieval origins of the castle, of which only the Keep, or tower house, survives today.

Part of the medieval moat and curtain wall were located, as well as a large cellared building and a stone-built tower, which may have been of medieval origin, but which was still standing during the Civil War siege.

More’s account mentions various buildings within the Castle, including the ‘out walls’, the ‘brick tower’, and ‘the new brick dwelling’. The ‘out walls’ appear to have been the medieval curtain wall, by this time discontinuous but in some places shored up by the defenders. Large amounts of brick rubble found in two of the trenches to the north-west of the tower house may be the remains of the ‘new brick dwelling’, while the most favoured site for the ‘brick tower’ seems to have been a mound to the south-west of the tower house. Part of the defensive ditch dug by the defenders was also found.

Lead musket shot found on the site, some of them clearly impacted through use, provided a grim reminder of the Civil War bloodshed. The most exciting find, however, was a gold coin of James I, dated 1623-4, found in a demolition deposit within the cellared building.


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Hopton Castle, ShropshireGold coin of James I, dated 1623-4, Hopton Castle, ShropshireHopton Castle, Shropshire

Time Team Series 17: In The Halls Of A Saxon King (Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire)

Broadcast 9 May 2010

The site at Sutton Courtenay in Oxfordshire lies within an area rich in the traces of prehistoric and Anglo-Saxon activity. Extensive prehistoric and Anglo-Saxon remains are known from the near vicinity. Part of the Drayton Cursus (Neolithic) runs through the site, and there are a number of Bronze Age ring ditches and enclosures in the area. Previous archaeological work has revealed Anglo-Saxon settlement remains, including both sunken feature buildings (SFBs) and timber-built halls. Sutton Courtenay may have been a vill (royal administrative centre) at this time.

Time Team aimed to investigate both prehistoric and Anglo-Saxon features, and the relationship between the two. Were the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of Sutton Courtenay aware of the prehistoric remains, and had they sited their dwellings here deliberately? Aerial photographs and geophysical data confirmed a picture of a densely occupied landscape, although it was not always clear which features belonged to which period.

Four trenches located part of a prehistoric ring ditch and three Anglo-Saxon buildings, two rectangular timber-built halls and one SFB. The foundations of the larger of the two timber halls had been cut through the fill of the prehistoric ring ditch, perhaps deliberately sited to do so, while those of the smaller hall cut through the SFB. In other words, there had been more than one phase of Anglo-Saxon occupation on the site.

Perhaps disappointingly, finds from the site, either of prehistoric or Anglo-Saxon date, were not plentiful, and the precise dating of these features remains slightly uncertain. The ring ditch is presumed to be of Middle Bronze Age date, while the SFB dates to the early Anglo-Saxon period (5th to 7th century), and the halls slightly later.


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Sutton Courtenay, OxfordshireSutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire

Time Team Series 17: Bridge Over The River Tees (Piercebridge, County Durham)

Broadcast 2 May 2010 | Report available

Roman Piercebridge lies about 200m west of Dere Street (the major Roman road from York to the Antonine Wall) in County Durham. At its heart are the remains of at least three bridges crossing the River Tees. The remains of a civilian settlement (vicus) here date back to the later 1st century AD, and the site became the focus of major military activity from the 180s, although the surviving fort defences date no earlier than the mid 3rd century. Time Team hoped to investigate the bridges, and to trace the remains of a possible early fort at Piercebridge.

The early fort remained elusive. The trenches located a previously unknown area of activity to the north-west of the 3rd century fort, dating to the 2nd century AD. This could have been part of the civilian settlement, although a large area of cobbling suggests a more official or military structure.

To the east of the fort and the present village further remains were found. These included a grave, suggesting that there may have been a cemetery in this area; a cist burial was discovered just to the south-west in 1933. Underwater exploration found a number of timbers to the west of the course of the Roman stone bridge, and a radiocarbon date in the 1st century AD was obtained for an additional line of timber piles to the west of this.

To the south of the River Tees the geophysical survey found the exact route of the earlier alignment of Dere Street, although no further dating evidence was obtained.


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Piercebridge, County DurhamPiercebridge, County DurhamPiercebridge, County DurhamPiercebridge, County DurhamPiercebridge, County Durham

Time Team Series 17: Corridors of Power (Westminster)

Broadcast 18 April 2010

Benedictine monks first came to Westminster in the middle of the 10th century, establishing a tradition of worship that continues to this day. The present church, begun by Henry III in 1245, is one of the most important Gothic buildings in the countrywith the medieval shrine of Edward the Confessor at its heart.

Time Team were extremely privileged to be invited to investigate part of this World Heritage Site, in particular the North Green, formerly known as the Sanctuary. Antiquarian illustrations show a row of five substantial houses built there, alongside the nave, probably in the late 16th century. The easternmost house reused the foundations, and perhaps also the walls, of a medieval sacristy built by Henry III. The sacristy would have housed the ceremonial vestments and objects used in services at the Abbey. A series of walls found in 1869 during clearance work were assumed to represent the remains of these houses, but the references are conflicting and unclear.

Part of the Abbey’s massive 13th century raft foundation was revealed, as well as the remains of Henry III’s sacristy. This was confirmed as being an L-shaped building, linking the north door of the nave with a second doorway. Five burials found in situ; all shared their alignment with the present Abbey, and their location in relation to the sacristy suggests that they are also of 13th century date. From a later period, part of a Tudor stairwell was uncovered, as well as brick wall foundations which were considered to be of 16th century date.

Of interest amongst the small quantity of finds recovered were a few fragments of Roman brick and tile, which are assumed to have been brought in from elsewhere for re-use in later construction - none were found in situ. Architectural stonework showed the use of several different types in the medieval Abbey: Reigate stone from Surrey, Taynton stone from Oxfordshire, and imported Caen stone.

Time Team Series 17: A Saintly Site (Baliscate Chapel, Isle of Mull)

Broadcast 25 April 2010 | Report available

One of the more remote and romantic sites visited by Time Team, Baliscate (Coille Creag A’Chait) is located close to Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland. Today the site is in woodland owned by the Forestry Commission, but amongst the trees are the tumbled remains of two stone-built enclosures, one containing a rectangular building thought to be the remains of an early Celtic Christian chapel.

Trenches excavated by Time Team were able to confirm that this was indeed a chapel, which originated as a timber building. A burial associated with this first phase gave us a radiocarbon date in the 7th century AD. To set this against the historical background, the arrival of Christianity in Scotland is traditionally associated with St. Ninian of Whithorn whom Bede recorded as having converted the southern Picts, perhaps as early as 397 AD, with a second mission by St. Columba to the northern Picts around565 AD, although the earlier date is now thought to be inaccurate.

The timber chapel was later rebuilt in stone. Exactly when is uncertain, but part of a stone cross recovered from demolition material overlying the chapel was thought to date to the 8th century AD. The chapel sat within a larger monastic complex containing at least one other building; the surrounding enclosure covers an area of just under 1.5 hectares. This is small when compared to sites such as Iona, where by the 8th century the monastic enclosure coveredapproximately 8 hectares. It is clear that Baliscate never sustained a large religious community, but it would have formed part of a larger Celtic Christian network throughout western and northern Scotland and the Isle of Man.

Exactly when the chapel went out of use is also uncertain. A few sherds of medieval pottery (late 12th to 15th century) were found on the site, as well as a coin of Edward II (1320-35). The chapel may have been reused as a domestic structure, but the few finds may just have been deposited during demolition. Stone from the chapel was later used to build the adjacent enclosure, which was shown to be a sheep pen (or ‘fank’) with a shieling for the shepherd.


Baliscate Chapel, Isle of MullBaliscate Chapel, Isle of MullFragment of an 8th century stone cross, Baliscate Chapel, Isle of Mull

New Time Team website

Time Team have recently announced the launch of their new website:

Exciting times at Time Team - We have now launched our new website, where we can update you on all the news from our latest digs. We will be using this site to bring together our YouTube videos, latest photos, and interviews with the team.

Not only will this site be a handy hub of information for the current dig, but will also become an archive of additional and behind the scenes information and footage of digs throughout the coming series.

If you are looking for the latest information about Time Team head over to http://www.timeteamdigital.com/ and explore!

Published Time Team reports produced by Wessex Archaeology

Time Team 2003-8: Bibliography of publication reports

Since 2003, Wessex Archaeology have produced assessment reports for nearly all of Time Team’s sites. These are not published, but are available as ‘grey literature’; you can download them in the Time Team reports section. Certain sites, however, have warranted further publication and dissemination of results, usually in the local archaeological journals. Wessex Archaeology has been responsible for a number of these further publications, which are listed here. This page will be updated regularly as forthcoming publications appear.
Time Team Year
WA Proj Code
Site Name
Publication reports
Loch Migdale, Scotland
A.P. Fitzpatrick, P.A. Harding, N. Dixon , and J.A. Sheridan, ‘An evaluation of a possible henge, hut circle and crannog at Loch Migdale, Highlands’ (passed to Prof. Richard Bradley, Reading University, for inclusion in forthcoming publication)
200352568Wittenham Clumpsinformation incorporated in OA monograph: Allen, T., Cramp, K., Lamdin-Whymark, H. and Webley, L.., 2010, Castle Hill and its Landscape; Archaeological Investigations at the Wittenhams, Oxfordshire http://library.thehumanjourney.net/553/
200555754Wemyss Caves, Scotland
C. Gibson, 2004, ‘Wemyss Caves’, Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 5  
200555755Drumlanrig Roman fort, ScotlandC. Gibson, 2004, ‘Drumlanrig Fort’, Discovery and Excavation in Scotland 5
200559468Withington Villa, GloucsS. Thompson & R. Armour Chelu, 2009, ‘A Roman villa complex at Withington, Gloucestershire’, Trans. Bristol & Gloucs. Archaeol. Soc. 127, 197-204
200559470Queenborough, Isle of Sheppey, KentV. Birbeck & R. Armour Chelu, 2008, ‘Geophysical survey and archaeological trenching at Queenborough Castle, Isle of Sheppey, Kent’, Archaeologia Cantiana 128, 378-86
200559472Wayneflete's Tower, Esher, SurreyS. Thompson & V. Birbeck, 2010, ‘Investigations at Wayneflete’s Tower, Esher, Surrey’, Surrey Archaeological Collections 95, 259-70
200662500Roughtor, CornwallS. Thompson & V. Birbeck, forthcoming, ‘A Time Team evaluation at Roughtor, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall’, Cornish Archaeology (submitted)
62503Chesham Bois
Y. Edwards, A. Paton, M. Wells, J. Gover and V. Birbeck, 2010, Chesham Bois Manor, home to the Cheyne family for 350 years: Historical and Archaeological investigation, Records of Buckinghamshire 50
65301Harold's House, Portskewett, S WalesS. Thompson & V. Birbeck, 2009-10, ‘A Time Team evaluation at Harold’s House, Portskewett, Monmouthshire’, Monmouthshire Antiquary 25/26, 5-12
200765302Binchester Fort, Co. DurhamV. Birbeck, forthcoming, ‘A Time Team evaluation at Binchester Roman Fort, County Durham’, Durham Archaeological Journal (submitted)
Isle of Barra, Scotland
S. Thompson, 2008, ‘Allasdale Dunes, Isle of Barra’, Discovery & Excavation in Scotland 9
200765306Codnor Castle, DerbysV. Birbeck, 2009, ‘Investigations at Codnor Castle’, Derbyshire Archaeological Journal 129, 187-94
200765308Shooters Hill, LondonD. Dungworth and L. Mepham, 2012, Prehistoric iron smelting in London: evidence from Eaglesfield Park, Shooters Hill, Greenwich, London, Historical Metallurgy 46, 1-10
Baliscate, Isle of Mull
S. Thompson, 2009, Baliscate Chapel, Isle of Mull (Coille Craig A’Chait), Discovery & Excavation in Scotland 10, 45-6
Older publications:
  • P. Harding, S. Ainsworth, J. Butterworth, J. Gater and M. Siraut, 2003, ‘Archaeological investigations at Templecombe, 1995’, Proc. Somerset Archaeol. Natur. Hist. Soc. 147, 143-63
  • A.P. Fitzpatrick, 2007, ‘A real relic from a sham site: an Iron Age sword ‘found’ at Llygadwy, Powys, Wales’, Studia Celtica 41, 25-30
  • Harding P.,  and Beswick P., 2005 ‘Excavations at a Bronze Age Barrow on Carsington Pasture by Time Team 2002’ in Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, vol 125, 1-20
  • Harding P, 2007, ‘Two possible Iron Age ‘banjo’ enclosures and a Romano-British villa and settlement at Beach’s Barn, Fittleton, Salisbury Plain’ Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine  vol. 100 (2007), 83-90


Time Team post-excavation reports 2004

The technical post-excavation reports for the 2009 Time Team series (series 16) are now online. Reports can be viewed directly on our website, or downloaded for offline viewing and printing.

Visit our Time Team reports section to see reports from other years.

Time Team post-excavation reports 2009

The technical post-excavation reports for the 2009 Time Team series (series 16) are now online. Reports can be viewed directly on our website, or downloaded for offline viewing and printing.

Visit our Time Team reports section to see reports from other years.

Time Team post-excavation reports 2005

The technical post-excavation reports for the 2005 Time Team series (series 12) are now online. Reports can be viewed directly on our website, or downloaded for offline viewing and printing.

Visit our Time Team reports section to see reports from other years.

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