Dove Lane, Bristol

These household items were discovered in the demolition rubble of urban terraced properties excavated in the St Paul’s area of Bristol. All the items are made of animal bone (apart from the mother-of-pearl button) and were manufactured in the days before plastic became ubiquitous for many household items. They reflect aspects of domestic life, including lace making, which may have been undertaken as piece-work to supplement the household income.

The houses where these objects were found were constructed on open ground during the massive expansion of Bristol’s suburbs in the late 18th or early 19th century. Some of the properties in this area suffered bomb damage during the blitz (WWII) and were cleared during the post-war years, with commercial properties erected in their stead. Parts of the basements or semi-basements survived below ground level and were back-filled with rubble, in which these objects were found.

We are indebted to Places for People for funding these investigations before the redevelopment of the area. A full report of the excavations Dove Lane, St Paul’s Bristol Archaeological Evaluation and Excavation Report no 18336 will shortly be available to download from our Reports Online website.

Mary Alexander

bone tattle shuttle and bobbin
This photo shows a tattle shuttle (above) and a bobbin (below). Both relate to lace making. The green staining on the tattle shuttle comes from corrosion of the copper-alloy rivets.


four circular bone objects - two discs and two buttons
In this photo the two perforated bone discs at the top of the photo are the end sections of thread spools used in textile manufacture or textile working, used to keep thread bobbins on a spool. The other two objects are buttons, the one on the left of the photo is bone and the one on the right is of mother of pearl.


three views of post-medieval toothbrush (with missing bristles)
This photo is of a toothbrush, engraved with ‘Giles, Schacht and Co., Chemists, Clifton’. From historical records dated to 1890 we know that the company was operational in the late 19th century (Richmond et al. 2017*). The green staining on the back suggests the bristles were of held in place with copper-alloy wire The bristles were probably of coarse boar’s hair.

*Richmond, L., Stevenson, J. and Turton, A. 2017 (eds) The Pharmaceutical Industry: A Guide to Historical Records Abingdon, Routledge

Exeter team is moving to a new office!

Wednesday 17 October 2018 was a red-letter day for our Exeter team. After much searching we have finally moved into new larger premises, less than 5 minutes from our old office!

The new office gives us much greater flexibility, space to grow and the ability to deliver a wider range of services.

Fortunately we were able to take on the new office a few weeks before our move date so the process of moving over has been relatively pain free and has allowed us to function as normal through the process.

We will be settling in and making the most of the extra space we now have, there is even talk of buying a table tennis table, so we will all be fitter and have better hand – eye coordination!

Our new contact details:

No 1 Clyst Units, Cofton Road
Marsh Barton, Exeter

Phone number: 01392 573970

Ipplepen Open Day

Throughout the summer, Exeter University have been excavating a site at Ipplepen, near Newton Abbot in Devon. The site is being investigated by the university as an annual student training and community excavation and is part of the HLF-funded ‘Understanding Landscapes’ project. Jerry, from Cotswold Archaeology’s Exeter office, has been working with the university to help train students and members of the local community in archaeological techniques.

This year, the excavations have yielded interesting settlement-related features of Iron Age and Roman date, as well as what may be part of a Christian cemetery: the graves were laid out on an east-west orientation, although they are yet to be firmly dated.

view on the excavation site at Ipplepen

On Saturday 8th September, as the season’s excavations drew to a close, members of the public were invited to an open day at the site. Staff from Cotswold Archaeology’s Exeter Office and Outreach team were on hand during the day to encourage visitors, old and young, to ask questions about what they had seen during their visit and learn more about the history of their village. Plenty of exciting activities were provided, and many families left contently with their own decorated Roman coins and split-pin Roman soldiers. Emily and Zoe went dressed for the occasion, but even they couldn’t match the clothes, weapons and armour of the Roman reenactors who took part in the day.

activities for children

Emily and Zoe dressed up in Roman clothes

The day was a great success and over 600 people took part in the site tour and visited the stalls. We all eagerly await the results of future excavations at Ipplepen, and look forward to learning about what else the site will reveal in years to come!

Zoe Arkley

New Trustees

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.

new trustees at CA
Left to right: Laura Evis, Clare Kirk and Christopher Young



Help us uncover the Boxford Mosaic!

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.

Matt Nichol working on the mosaic

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.

An Early Medieval Experience for CA Volunteers!

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.

three people standing in front of the camera with weapon, woman in the middle holding a shield and an axe looking scaryClaire 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:

Author: Hazel O’Neill
Date: August 2018