Our charitable status is an important aspect of Cotswold Archaeology, but we can’t be a charity without trustees who are responsible for setting our overall direction and ensuring good corporate governance. Trustees don’t get paid; they perform the role because they believe in us and care about what we are doing. In September we welcomed three new people onto the Board of Trustees, and it is pleasing in particular that we now have greater female representation at this level. So welcome to Laura Evis,Clare Kirk and Christopher Young. Bob Bewley has decided to stand down from the Board owing to pressure of work, but becomes one of our academic advisors. Thank you for your contribution Bob over the last three years.
Cotswold Archaeology is proud to have been involved with the exciting Boxford History Project investigation between 2012 and 2017. That project culminated with the fantastic discovery of a major Roman mosaic, described by experts as the most important new mosaic find from Britain in the last 50 years. Careful excavation, with our staff supporting a great band of volunteers, revealed about half of the mosaic, which is covered in Greek mythological characters, but time did not allow us to investigate its full extent.
The Boxford History Project has been focusing subsequent efforts on fundraising so as to realise it’s ambition to return to the site and fully excavate the mosaic, and so discover more about its date, construction and what the images tell us about the people responsible for its creation. Great strides have been made and some very generous donations have already been confirmed, but to enable the project to meet its objectives further donations are being invited through The Good Exchange website.
Click here for more information about the project.
As part of our busy work experience programme, two students from local schools were treated to a talk from our post-excavation processor, Claire Collier.
Claire is a member of Regia Anglorum, an early medieval re-enactment and living history group. The group aims to reenact as accurately as possible the lives of people from a cross-section of English society at around the turn of the first millennium AD. The group’s watchword is ‘authenticity’ and they will not make any item of kit that they cannot verify from contemporary sources. All aspects of life are portrayed by the group, ranging from the lowly baker to the mighty warrior.
The students were shown reconstructed items used in everyday early medieval life, including clothes and dress accessories. They also learned about the early medieval diet, handling objects associated with eating and drinking such as wooden bowls and ceramic and horn cups.
They were also able to handle weapons which have been reconstucted based on archaeological finds of Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman arms, including a sword, axe, mace and bow and arrow.
Don’t worry, they’re not as scary as they look! (Well, except for Claire maybe…)
For more information on Regia Anglorum, visit their web page at: regia.org
On Saturday (28th July) Cotswold Archaeology attended Bristol’s Brilliant Archaeology Day held by Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery in the beautiful Blaise Castle Estate. The event focuses on the amazing archaeology to be found in and around the city. Unfortunately, the heat wave came to an abrupt end, forcing us to dismantle wind swept gazebos and head indoors where it was much dryer!
Once we’d dried off, we were able to showcase some of the finds from our most recent excavations at the new UWE sport pitches including a beautiful Roman glass bead and two Roman coins (see below). We also featured finds from our central Bristol site at Redcliffe and another Roman site in Thornbury.
The Redcliffe site has produced lots of well-preserved medieval organic material, including soap and human faeces. Visitors of all ages had a go at our ‘Mystery Find’ guessing game and also tried to identify the difference between medieval soap and medieval poo.
These unusual finds inspired our soap making activity and over 150 soaps were made throughout the course of the day. The soap included herbs and biodegradable glitter of the maker’s choice, so there were plenty of bespoke examples in bathrooms across Bristol on Sunday morning.
This was one of the events busiest years yet and there were 1286 visitors taking part in a huge range of archaeological activities. It was great to meet and answer questions from so many people and we had a lot of fun doing so.
The excavations took place in advance of housing development at Island Farm, Ottery St Mary, and revealed what is interpreted as a medieval longhouse, dating to c. AD 1250–1350. The building had been destroyed by a disastrous fire. Although the fire destroyed the building, in doing so it carbonised structural timbers and other botanical remains, which have provided us with fantastically well-preserved evidence for the building’s structure and its contents. We have been able to use identifications of wood species and spatial arrangements of the charred remains to suggest the materials employed in the construction of the building and to identify some of its contents, which included a variety of crops stored in one of its rooms. Other finds include fragments derived from the repair of copper-alloy vessels, an axe-head, and, remarkably, a Bronze Age palstave, which seems to have been found and kept by the medieval occupants of the building.
Detailed analysis has provided us with unusual detail of the types of wood used in the construction of the building, principally oak for the timber framing and alder and willow for its wattle panelling. We have also been able to identify the composition of the harvest stored in part of the building, which included oats, wheat, rye, barley, broad beans, peas and vetches.
The longhouse has similarities with other examples known from Devon, although our interpretation of it as a partial timber-framed building appears to be unique in the archaeological record from the county. The range of crops identified provides physical evidence of what is recorded in historical documents from the period, but also suggests others. The Internet Archaeology report includes primary data on the botanical remains to allow readers to interrogate the information for further (and perhaps different) insights.
The fieldwork was undertaken on behalf of Waddeton Park Ltd in advance of the construction of new housing by Bovis Homes.
On 9th March Cotswold Archaeology held a thank-you day for volunteers who work in the Cirencester office. After a busy year of hard toil we thought it was about time that we thanked our brilliant volunteers by treating them to a series of talks from some of our experts.
The talks focussed on archaeological projects the volunteers had worked on, whilst others looked at museum store projects also involving volunteers. Some talks were just an excuse to look at recent amazing finds we have been working on! This is always a special occasion for staff and volunteers alike.
Our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds but all have a love of archaeology. We train our volunteers in a number of tasks, usually introducing them to things they might never have tried before. Our projects range from working on skeletons from Anglo-Saxon execution cemeteries to preparing finds from large city-centre sites for museum deposition. We also run museum store projects where volunteers help local museums assess what they hold and the best way to preserve their collections for the future.
The talks were followed up by ‘a good spread’. Sandwiches and fizzy pop were consumed whilst beautiful (and carefully handled) artefacts were admired. Although we have had to temporarily suspend our volunteer programme at Cirencester, we are looking forward to further exciting volunteer projects and the next thank-you day for volunteers!