On Saturday 14 April the Berkshire Archaeological Society held its annual day school in Newbury, I was lucky enough to have been invited to give a talk about our recent excavations at Riding Court Farm, Datchet carried out for CEMEX UK. The event was well attended with over 70 people present to listen to a variety of talks, given by archaeologists spanning all aspects of the profession from curators to professors.

This was the first talk we’d given about our work at the site and it focused on the early prehistoric finds – namely the Riding Court causewayed enclosure. Preparing the talk gave me the opportunity to think about the archaeology differently; from the viewpoint of the audience. Telling the story of the site through a combination of slides with images, plans, animations and the talk itself, helped me to focus on the overall story from the site and how it fits in with the ‘bigger’ archaeological picture. The talk seemed to go down well, and an audible ‘oooh’ was heard in response to a photograph of two leaf-shaped arrowheads!

The causewayed enclosure at Riding Court Farm, Datchet A pair of leaf shaped arrowheads from the enclosure

The causewayed enclosure at Riding Court Farm, and a pair of leaf shaped arrowheads from the enclosure


Wessex Archaeology’s work was also mentioned in the first talks of the day that highlighted recent work in Berkshire. Our projects in Thatcham and Newbury featured, including an evaluation undertaken by Rachel Williams only two days before the event. Later talks spanned the Mesolithic to Romano-British periods. Professor Martin Bell, of the University of Reading, spoke about his collaboration with Wessex’s work in his talk on Mesolithic deposit modelling in the Kennet valley, a joint project with our geoarchaeologists. Other talks included Roman discoveries at Boxford and Silchester, a discussion of Roman temples in Berkshire and Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements at Didcot and Wallingford.

The audience was very appreciative and enthusiastic rounds of applause followed all the talks. The work of all the members of the Berkshire Society and especially Trevor Coombs, in organising and inviting a broad spectrum of archaeologists to talk about recent discoveries made for an informative and engaging day. Hopefully we will be invited back to talk about our ongoing excavations in future years.

By John Powell, Field Archaeologist