Volunteers’ week

Its volunteers’ week!!!! The 1st – 7th June is a week dedicated to celebrating the fantastic contribution millions of volunteers make across the UK. Here at Cotswold Archaeology we thought this would be the perfect opportunity for us to shout out about the wonderful work our amazing volunteers do by looking back at some of the various projects they’ve helped out with recently. 

Helping out in the field

In April a team of archaeologists from our Milton Keynes office were on site at Great Linford Manor Park conducting a community dig alongside The Parks Trust. We were joined by volunteers from across Milton Keynes and beyond, including the Young Park Rangers, who were all very passionate and enthusiastic about the archaeology being unveiled.

Great Linford Manor Park community dig
Great Linford Manor Park community excavations
Volunteers assisting with the excavation
Volunteers excavating a feature at Great Linford Manor

The volunteers assisted with the excavation, recording and photography of features such as the Doric structure, a long-lost sundial and the HaHa wall (a sunken wall that provided a boundary to livestock without interrupting views). Feedback from volunteers was resoundingly positive with the site staff seeing many familiar faces at the site open day, keen to see how the trenches they’d worked on had progressed.

Volunteers from the North Devon Archaeological Society and other interested locals recently joined staff from our Exeter office to assist with the North Devon Hillforts Survey. The project included a geophysical survey of Bucks Mills hillfort hosted by North Devon Coast AONB and supported by Historic England and North Devon National Trust. Working alongside Substrata Limited and our staff, the volunteers assisted with the setting out of the grids and used survey instrumentation to plot the earthworks. We’re keeping our fingers crossed the project will help determine the date of the hillfort, which is currently a mystery!

Geophysical survey of Bucks Mills hillfort.
Geophysical survey of Bucks Mills hillfort. Photo credit: North Devon Coast AONB

The volunteers also helped our staff record the hillforts of Windbury Head, Embury Beacon and Hillsborough and Senior Heritage Consultant Zoe was “grateful for the assistance of the volunteers” especially as they worked “through all weather and dense vegetation”.

Recording the hillforts of Windbury Head, Embury Beacon. Photo credit: North Devon Coast AONB
Recording the hillforts of Windbury Head, Embury Beacon. Photo credit: North Devon Coast AONB

Post-excavation processing

volunteer Sarah
Volunteer Sarah working on the site archive

Our  volunteers help us out on a real variety of projects and tasks and many of these are carried out not only on site, but back in our offices when the hard work of analysing and interpreting everything uncovered begins. In our Andover office several dedicated volunteers have been ordering and preparing the recording sheets completed by the excavators at a large multi-period site in Kent.  This ensures that everything necessary for understanding the features, and the eventual creation of the detailed report, is all present and correct. They have also been assisting with the quantification of a large assemblage of samian pottery from a recent local excavation. Volunteer Victoria has “enjoyed learning new skills such as differentiating between parts of pottery vessels” and was pleased that she “was able to assist with the paper archive for large sites”.

A team of volunteers have also proved invaluable to the post-excavation staff in our Cirencester office by helping out with the washing of over 40 skeletons from a recently excavated Roman cemetery site. Their hard work means the assemblage is now ready to be analysed by our Osteoarchaeologist and the volunteers are all eagerly awaiting hearing about the results. Several of these volunteers have also carried out the very different but no less important job of auditing all 2,500 books and journals in the Cirencester office library. Volunteer Sue says “the task was thoroughly enjoyable” as it allowed them to set aside some more interesting volumes for reading at a later date. One of Sue’s particular favourites was ‘Hanged at Gloucester’ (not that we think she’s morbid or anything!!).

Sue washing human remains from a recently excavated Roman cemetery site
Sue washing human remains from a recently excavated Roman cemetery site

Our new Suffolk office has an impressive history of volunteer engagement both on site and within the post-excavation department. One such project involved volunteers assisting with the excavation of over 100 Iron Age storage pits. The volunteers then carried out finds and soil sample processing and were trained in finds identification so they could aid with the identifying and quantifying of the finds recovered from the pits. Project Manager Joanna said the work of the volunteers “provided an important link between a large new greenfield development on the edge of town with the community affected by it”.

Suffolk office volunteers assisting with processing of the finds and soil samples
Suffolk office volunteers assisting with processing of the finds and soil samples

The Suffolk post-excavation team have also been regularly joined by a small number of volunteers who’ve turned their hands to most tasks, with notable projects including the sieving of cremations and the reconstruction of pots from two Anglo-Saxon cemeteries.

We’ve also been lucky enough to work alongside the volunteers on community projects such as the recent Operation Nightingale Exercise Shallow Grave dig together with Breaking Ground Heritage and The Portable Antiquities Scheme.  We’ll be participating in several community projects this summer which we’re really excited about, including returning to Boxford, where we will be working with the Boxford History Project again on the mosaic first revealed in 2017. Watch this space for updates!

You can learn more about volunteer’s week here volunteersweek.org.

If you’re interested in being added to our mailing list so we can keep you updated about any volunteering opportunities in our various post-excavation departments, then please contact our volunteer co-ordinator jessica.cook@cotswoldarchaeology.co.uk  or take a look at our volunteer website page for more information.


Marcus & The Mystery of the Pudding Pans

CA is pleased to present you with a fantastic animation produced for The Seaside Museum Herne Bay exhibition ‘The Mystery of the Roman Pudding Pans’.

The Kentish mystery, which is now the subject of an ongoing exhibition and animation, concerns the story of the contents of a Roman ship that sank or jettisoned its cargo off the Kent coast, c. AD 180 –200. Pottery from the wreck has been recovered by fishermen since at least the 18th century and was used to cook a Kentish pudding, hence the site being known as ‘pudding pan’.

The animation was written, produced and directed by Phil Gomm, and CA’s very own Senior Marine Consultant Dr Michael Walsh acted as archaeological consultant, due to his ongoing research into the site. Michael’s research was published in 2017 by the British Museum Press, and is available from their online bookshop.

Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the animation is the result of a partnership between staff and graduates of the Computer Animation Arts at the University of the Creative Arts (UCA) Rochester, professional voice actors, The Seaside Museum and pupils from Herne Bay Junior School, where Michael led a whole school assembly on Friday 26 April. We have thoroughly enjoyed being part of this wonderful project.

You can visit The Seaside Museum Herne Bay exhibition and see the pottery on display until the 2nd June 2019.

Copyright: © Phil Gomm


Archaeology Session at Wickham CoE Primary School

Supported by Croudace Homes and Winchester City Archaeology, Cotswold Archaeology were keen to engage children with our investigations at Wickham.

On the 28th February, Years 3 and 4 from Wickham Church of England Primary School welcomed Project Officers Jeremy and Sam to lead an interactive hands-on workshop about the investigations in Wickham.

wickham times maemay

In preparation for the workshop, the pupils spent time learning about archaeology and watching the on-site video. Encouraged by their teachers, they produced imaginary newspaper reports about the investigations on site. Sharing these with Jeremy and Sam on the day, we felt they deserved wider publicity and have included two fantastic examples below (please note poetic licence will be required when reading).

Through a combination of talks and practical activities, involving sorting, identifying and dating artefacts, the pupils developed their knowledge of archaeology and the methods and techniques used at Wickham.

The workshop aimed to raise awareness and spark interest, and we thoroughly enjoyed meeting the pupils of Wickham Church of England Primary School. If you are interested in learning more about the school workshops we offer, please contact community@cotswoldarchaeology.co.uk.

Children’s reports on Wickham excavations:

 


Book Launch Event in Cannington, Somerset

Cotswold Archaeology has just published the first volume in a planned series about the archaeology of the Hinkley Point C construction project, undertaken on behalf of EDF Energy.

The book – Cannington Bypass, Somerset: Excavations in 2014. Middle Bronze Age enclosure at Rodway and Roman villa at Sandy Lane – concerns the results of excavations ahead of the infrastructure work around Cannington village.

To mark this publication, South West Heritage Trust has arranged a book launch, that was held at Cannington Court in the evening of Wednesday 6th March.

The book is being distributed by Oxbow Books, Oxford.

cannington book cover

Some photos from the event.

Book launch cannington, view of the venue Cannington book launch authors and contributors group photo

 

 

 

 


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


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.