Festival of Archaeology 2017
In what has rapidly become an annual institution, Phil Harding and Lorraine Mepham joined this year’s Festival of Archaeology to dig a hole in the Museum’s front garden. The aim was to find evidence of the gatehouse for the King’s House which was listed in the Parliamentary Survey of 1649, and depicted in a sketch from 1799, but of which there is now no trace above ground. A preliminary geophysical survey picked up responses suggesting walls, and a 1-metre square test pit was placed to pick up one of these. Work started on Saturday morning, and the remains of the wall were swiftly uncovered. By late afternoon we had exposed the wall down to its foundations, and dug through a series of layers, including a medieval make-up layer containing many fragments of roof tiles, possibly hardcore used to raise the ground level. We were fortunate enough to find good dating evidence for the gatehouse too – a clay tobacco pipe with a maker’s mark came up from the wall’s construction cut, and this could be dated quite closely to the middle of the 17th century, just before the time of the Parliamentary Survey. Rubble from the gatehouse’s demolition included pottery sherds and a glass bottle dating to the late 18th or early 19th century, and once more this tallied with the historical sources – there is a documentary note of the demolition in 1803. The owner of the King’s House at the time was said to have kept a good wine cellar, so the glass bottle that we found could well have come from this! Thanks to Adrian Green and to Owain Hughes of Salisbury Museum for inviting us back to the Festival, and to all those who turned out to visit, despite the weather. We were very glad of our gazebo covering!