newsletter-473-August-2010

 

 

LOOKING AT FINDS – A PRACTICAL COURSE IN POST-EXCAVATION STUDIES

 

A course for HADAS to be held at Avenue House, Finchley from 29/09/10 to 23/03/11+

 

Course tutor: Jacqui Pearce BA FSA MIfA

 

Archaeology is about people – about reconstructing past lives and through them understanding the times and places in which they lived, the things they used and the wider world of which they were a part. The thrill of excavation, the discovery of structures, finds and even people long buried draws many to the romance of archaeology. But an even greater thrill – that of bringing the past to life – awaits those who carry out the painstaking detective work that follows excavation.

 

This course is aimed at everyone who feels they want to learn more about what happens after the excavation is over. How do we identify, record and analyse the finds and other evidence, how relate them to the site and explore all the means at our disposal to bring that site to life? How do we share the knowledge gained through the mysteries of publication? By focusing on one particular group of material from a site in the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre (LAARC), we will explore all these questions and more, with tuition and handling sessions designed to give students first-hand experience of post-excavation work leading to publication.

 

Under the auspices of Birkbeck College, between 2001 and 2008, students worked heroically through the excavation archives for Church End Farm (the results published in 2005 as The Last Hendon Farm), Church Terrace and Burroughs Gardens (publications currently in preparation), all Hendon sites excavated in the 1960s and 1970s by HADAS. 

 

For our next course we will be concentrating on a large assemblage of finds recovered from a single closed feature in the City of London. Closed groups of this kind are of considerable importance in that they provide a closely focused snapshot of a particular time and place, and thereby of those who originally used and discarded the material recovered through excavation. They also allow us to see clearly something of the range of goods in circulation at any one time and to associate these with the area in which they were found. A web of connections begins to build up, leading us along many different paths of investigation, some of them quite unexpected. The ultimate aim is to tell the stories of those people, places and things we have brought to light through excavation and to weave these into a whole that throws light on our past. The material we have chosen is from:

 

Abacus House (ABC87), 33-39 Gutter Lane, EC2, context [793]

 

From 1520 the site was occupied by Embroiderers’ Hall. Context [793] is a brick- and ragstone-lined cesspit that probably belonged to them. It cut an earlier cesspit ([1016]), and both features were dated to the late 16th/early 17th century. The finds were never analysed in depth and the whole assemblage is in need of detailed recording, quantification and checking. The pottery has been only partially examined and a fine collection of table glass has not been recorded at all. The Livery Company associations make this a most interesting assemblage, one that can be closely dated. Although selected items have been published, no overview of the assemblage has been carried out and there is no publication that brings together all the evidence. The assemblage provides an ideal opportunity to explore the context of the find and the period to which it belongs.

 

Over the two terms of the course, we will be sorting, recording and analysing the finds from our chosen assemblage in detail, planning and discussing the lines of enquiry to follow, with specific research topics identified and pursued by class members as we go. A major goal will be to use the information collected to aid our understanding and interpretation. We will also be looking at how to prepare an article for publication, covering illustration and photography, writing and editing. The selected assemblage is large but manageable and we would hope to produce an article under joint authorship that could be submitted for publication in LAMAS Transactions.  The goals of the course are therefore clearly defined, with a definite end in view. The experience to be gained from this closely focused programme of study should stand all who participate in good stead for future post-excavation work. Newcomers to the mysteries of archaeological analysis and publication should not be put off by any lack of previous experience – the course is designed to be accessible at many different levels. Do come along all are welcome!  

 

The cost will be £275 for the whole course, which will be held each Wednesday evening between 18.30 and 20.30 at Avenue House, 17 East End Road, Finchley. The will run for 22 two-hours sessions over two terms from 29th September 2010 to 23rd March 2011. To book, please contact the class tutor at jacquipearce126@hotmail.com or Don Cooper at the address below.

 

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COPPED HALL TRUST ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT: FIELD SCHOOLS 2010

 

Monday 9th – Friday 13th August

Monday 16th – Friday 20th August

 

Continuing investigation into the development of a Tudor grand-house from Medieval beginnings at Copped Hall on the edge of Epping Forest, Essex.

 

At time of writing there are still places available at the two 5-day Field Schools for people already familiar with basic techniques of archaeological excavation and recording on the above dates.  Cost is £90 for each week (WEAG members £80). 

 

For further information please contact Mrs. Pauline Dalton: telephone 01992 813 725, or email pmd2@ukonline.co.uk

 

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THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF EARLY PREHISTORIC EUROPE

 

Arranged by the Mill Hill Archaeological Study Society

 

Venue:  Lawrence Room, Hartley Hall, Flower Lane, NW7

Cost:  £130 for 20 classes      

Tutor:  Scott McCracken

Enrol at the first meeting.  If you have not previously attended the Society’s meetings please contact the Secretary:  Peter Nicholson  020 8959 4757

 

 

HADAS long weekend in Norwich – 28th August to 1st September 2010

 The arrangements for our trip to Norwich are nearly finalised – apart, of course, from the weather.  The balance of the cost (£300 per person sharing a room or £340 for those in single rooms) is due by the 18th August 2010.  Please send your payments to Jim Nelhams (address at back of newsletter).  A little booklet of the trip and any instructions will be sent you as soon as it is possible.

A few places may still be available.  We normally operate a waiting list as well because so often someone has to drop out, so please contact Jim if you are interested but have not yet signed up.

 

 

Return to Hendon School to teach practical archaeology and a SUPRISE.

By Don Cooper

 

This is a preliminary report on this year’s excavation at Hendon School from Monday, 28th June to Friday, 2nd July 2010.

 

Site code HDS06. Grid reference: 523675.129E 189026.785N height above sea level 59.850.  The grid reference (which was set up by contractors who are preparing to build an additional building in the school grounds) was one and a half metres east of centre of the trench.

 

Introduction

This, the fifth season of excavation at Hendon School, was different from the previous ones. First of all it was only one week long, and secondly, the range of practical archaeological techniques demonstrated was vastly expanded. Sarah Dhanjal, a PhD student at University College London’s Institute of Archaeology and heavily involved in Community Archaeology ,  produced an excellent handbook for the pupils covering the areas studied. Twenty, mostly year seven (ten or eleven year olds) boys and girls took part. One session covered health and safety on site followed by a discussion on what is archaeology, as well as why we were digging at Hendon School. Each day also provided two hours of excavating including appropriate use of the tools of archaeology. Day two majored on Archaeological finds looking at what we had found in previous excavations, what they were, how they were recorded and what we might find this year. Day three concentrated on the use of photography on archaeological sites, and surveying techniques such as the use of the “dumpy level” to position our trench and finds. The fourth day brought plan and section drawing.  Sarah, Angela Holmes, Vicki Baldwin, Jim Nelhams and I from HADAS as well as Gabe Moshenska,  Mike Lewis, Hannah Page and Jennifer Bowen from university archaeological departments taught the various aspects, supervised and excavated a two metre by three metre trench in the north-east corner of the school playing field. This year’s excavation had a stronger educational structure to the activities in line with the way schools community archaeology is developing mainly thanks to Sarah Dhanjal.

 

Summary

With the emphasis this year on more educational activities and only one week’s digging, this year’s trench played second fiddle to the requirements of the pupils. Nevertheless, the trench gradually took shape, from the de-turfing layer, through a top soil layer, to a disturbed layer of mixed deposits. On the last day it was decided to dig a small sondage (a slot within the trench designed to look at lower levels) as we were unable to get down to natural for the whole trench in the timescale. This sondage half a metre long by two metres wide and about 25cm deep produced a number of surprises. Firstly, mid-way across the two metre width there was a post-hole, with all the characteristics of a wooden post secured by two nails and secondly, 117 sherds of early medieval pottery were found. This large amount of early pot in a secure context is, at the very least, surprising. It is more Early Medieval Pottery sherds than HADAS has ever taken from such a small area. What is going on in that area? A lot more work needs to be done on analysing the pottery, before we even guess at what might be happening. This work is already started with the sherds being referred to specialists to establish accurate dating, fabric types and the number of unique vessels involved. On the face of it, however, this is a very significant find for the area and comes as a major surprise.

 

Detail

A detailed report will be produced when the impact of all the finds has been assessed. However, after the de-turfing layer, context one produced the usual detritus from the school playing field, such as sweet papers, bits of metal, a few small sherds of modern pottery, some building material and glass. Context 2 was the main context and consisted of a deep layer of disturbed soil. It produced a wide range of pottery sherds from modern back to early medieval pot, there was metal, clinker, coal, building material, stems of clay pipes and glass both window and bottle. There was little animal bone compared to what had been found on previous digs. Context 3 produced no finds and was merged with context 2 after it was decided that there wasn’t any difference between them. Context 4 was a lense of London Clay but with no finds associated with it. There were pottery sherds in context 5 which was a pebble layer. The sondage as mentioned above produced an amazing amount of early medieval pot sherds. The feature in the sondage (a likely pot hole) produced three sherds of early medieval on top of it and nail heads at its base.

Contribution to research questions

The research questions posed by the project design brief can be answered as follows:

a. Is there any residual evidence of prehistoric activity? There was no evidence of prehistoric activity.

b. Considering the proximity to various Roman roads, is there evidence of Roman activity? There are a number of Roman and suspected Roman sherds from context 2 and the sondage.

c. Excavations in the area have uncovered considerable Anglo-Saxon material, is there any evidence of similar remains here? Within the early medieval sherds there are a number that are probably Anglo-Saxon, we will not know for certain until the detailed pottery analysis has been completed.

d. Is there any evidence of activity in the area between its mention in Domesday and the construction of the house? The large number of early medieval pot sherds recovered from the small undisturbed sondage imply a presence in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries.

e. What evidence remains for the different phases of rebuilding of the house up to the demolition in 1909?  No evidence was found this time.

Results

From an educational point of view this was the most successful excavation so far. Many more archaeological techniques were described, taught and demonstrated. Apart from the sondage, the contexts produced the finds expected namely the detritus from a school playing fields, residual finds from the allotments that were on the site during the Second World War and, unexpectedly a larger number of early medieval pottery sherds from the mixed contexts which in turn were overwhelmed by the number from the sondage.

 

 

Acknowledgements 

Thanks are due to many people, first and foremost to Sarah Dhanjal, who created the training booklet and arranged all the activities. To Jill Hickman, our contact at Hendon School who makes the excavations on site possible as well as selecting the pupils, getting their parents’ permission and ensuring that they were on site at the right times. Thanks are due to all the HADAS members who did a splendid job throughout the week especially Angela Holmes whose teaching expertise and archaeological experience are unsurpassed.  Many thanks are also due to our colleagues from university for their hard work, enthusiasm and expertise.

 

 

Notes re: HADAS Outing on 11 July 2010 to Down House, Biggin Hill Battle of Britain Memorial Chapel & Lullingstone Roman Villa                                                     Andrew Selkirk

 

Those of you who went on the splendid HADAS trip to Down House and Lullingstone Roman villa might like to see some of the photos that I took on the trip which I have now put up on the web, on our site at www.Ilovethepast.com.  Just go to the site and do a search either for Down House or Lullingstone and you'll see the pictures and my description.  If you have any pictures of your own or would like to add any additional information or comments or indeed a review of either of these sites do feel free to do so -- that is the point of Ilovethepast.com — and the more reviews we get, the better.

 

You might also like to look at Kelmscott which I have visited the previous day with the Society of Antiquaries.  Kelmscott was William Morris's house down by the River Thames, and by a series of accidents it was bequeathed to the Society of Antiquaries and I went down on their special summer outing and enjoyed strawberries and cream on the lawn!  I don't think that HADAS has ever been to Kelmscott, but it would make a very good outing.

 

Incidentally has anyone got any photos of the other two sites near Lullingstone Roman villa, namely Lullingstone Castle and Eynsford Castle?  When I went down to Lullingstone Roman villa for the official opening two years ago, I took lots of photos of the other two sites as well, but unfortunately I had a computer crash and lost these photos. Everything else was backed up, but sadly I lost these photos and I would like to add something on these other two sites.  Lullingstone Castle is of course essentially a Queen Anne house and a fine Tudor gatehouse,  but Eynsford Castle is a superb example of an early Norman castle,  miraculously preserved because it became stables and hunting kennels in the 18th century.

 

 

 

HADAS/UCL Digs in Church Farmhouse Museum Garden & Sunny Hill Park, Hendon                                                                                                                                           Vicki Baldwin

Both digs ran from Monday 12th July until Thursday 22nd July. 

The trench in Church Farmhouse Museum Garden was opened to enable further examination of the medieval ditch located and investigated on earlier occasions. 

The Sunny Hill Park excavations focused on two of five air-raid shelters near St Mary’s church.  The HADAS/UCL team was led by Dr. Gabriel Moshenska and members of Subterranea Britannica (http://www.subbrit.org.uk ) attended on several days.

Both locations attracted interest from members of the public, several of whom made daily visits, and useful information was gained from those who had personal memories of the air-raid shelters.  The Open Day on Sunday 18th July was particularly busy.

 However, it was one of the youngest visitors who provided Dr. Moshenska with directions to the location of an unusual relic.  Six year old David Wolffe had found an original wooden sign that had once pointed the way to the shelters.  The paint and lettering are still in good condition and now, rather than lying hidden behind a hedge, this small boy’s treasure will have a place in the museum with details of his part in its recovery.  An account of the discovery appeared in the Hendon & Finchley Times on 22 July.  This was the second week that a report of the excavations appeared in the local paper.

On Thursday 22 July the trenches were backfilled.  The finds must now be processed and recorded and the reports written.  Articles containing details of the finds and conclusions will appear in future editions of the newsletter.

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What’s On                                                                                                      Eric Morgan

 

Sunday 1st August, 3-5pm: Finchley Society, Avenue House, East End Road.  The Bothy Garden open day.  (HADAS will be at Avenue House from 10.30am.)

 

Sunday 1st August, 2.30pm: Heath & Hampstead Society, meet at the cattle trough in Spaniards Road, nr. The Spaniards Inn, The Heath Extension, walk led by Tony Ghilchik (Vice-President).  Lasts approx. 2hrs.  Donation £2.

 

Tuesday 3rd August, 2-3pm:  Harrow Museum, Headstone Manor, Pinner View, North Harrow: Tennyson & The Brontes.  Talk by Judy Karbritz.  Cost £3.

Also until 31st October exhibition: Medieval Harrow: Moats, Manors & Muck!

 

Thursday 5th August, 7.30pm:  London Canal Museum, 12-13 New Wharf Road, Kings Cross, N1, Towpath Walk to Camden.  Lasts 1½ hrs.  Cost £7 including museum entrance.

 

Saturday 7th August, 2-4pm: Museum of London, 150 London Wall, EC2, Walking the Roman Wall.  Book in advance£8 on www.museumoflondon.org.uk or telephone 020 7001 9544.

 

Sunday 8th August, 11am:  Enfield Society.  Heritage walk Enfield Cemetery starting at Gordon Hill station.  Led by Graham Dalling to tell us about some of Enfield’s past residents.  Circular, 1hr walk.  Tickets free, but limited.  Please write to Jubilee Hall, 2 Parsonage Lane, Enfield, Middx. & enclose s.a.e.

 

Tuesday 10th August, 8pm:  Amateur Geological Society, The Parlour, St. Margaret’s Church, Victoria Avenue, N3 (off Hendon Lane): Minerals & Gems of Africa: talk by Warren Taylor.

 

Saturday 14th August, 12-3pm on the hour:  Guided Tour of Forty Hall, Forty Hill, Enfield.  Free costumed tour lasting about 45mins.  Booking required.  For information email forty.hall@enfield.gov.uk or telephone 202 8363 8196.

 

Tuesday 17th August, 6pm: Highgate Wood Information Hut,  off Archway Road, N6.  Historical Walk.

 

Thursday 17th August, 6.30pm: Willesden Green Library Centre,  High Road NW10: Ernest Trobridge – Kingsbury’s Extraordinary Architect.  Talk by Philip Grant.

Friday 20th August, 7pm:  COLAS, St. Olave’s Parish Hall, Mark Lane, EC3: Talks by members of COLAS.  Visitors £2.  Light refreshments after.

 

Saturday 21st August & Sunday 22nd August, 12-6pm:  Friern Barnet Summer Show, Friary Park, Friern Barnet Lane, N12.  Friern Barnet & District Local History Society will be in a marquee with a special display on the Centenary of Friary Park.  The Finchley Society & Barnet Borough Arts Council will have stands here also.

 

Sunday 22nd August, 2.30pm:  Enfield Society, Heritage Walk: Southgate, starting from The Cherry Tree, Chaseside N14.  We will be taken round this Conservation Area & told about the interesting buildings.  We will also have visits to Christ Church & the Southgate Beaumont Home.  Booking information as for 8th August.

 

Thursday 26th August, 12.30pm:  Big Changes of Paddington Basin.  Explore the developments of the Basin & Merchant Square.  Find out more about the Basin’s history, view magnificent buildings & see the Rolling Bridge in action.  Meet at the Hilton London Metropole, 225 Edgware Road, W2.

 

Tuesday 31st August, 2-3pm:  Harrow Museum, Headstone Manor, Pinner View, North Harrow: The Medieval Churches of Middlesex talk by Pat Clarke.  £3.  Complements the museum’s Medieval exhibition (see 3rd August).

 

Wednesday 1st September, 8pm:  Stanmore & Harrow Historical Society, Wealdstone Baptist Church Hall, High Street, Wealdstone.  40 Years With Kodak, talk by Tony Earle (who gave HADAS a talk on the Underground).

 

Thursday 2nd September, 7.30pm:  London Canal Museum, 12-13 New Wharf Road, Kings Cross, N1, The Sleaford Navigation – Past, Present& Future.  Talk by Steve Hayes on its history.  Admission £3 (£2 concessions).

 

Friday 3rd September, 10.30am-12noon:  Friends of Barnet Borough Libraries, South Friern Library, Colney Hatch Lane, N10.  History of Pharmacy talk & coffee.

 

Saturday 4th & Sunday5th September, 10.30am-6pm:  Enfield Town Show, Town Park, Cecil Road, Enfield, Middx.  The Enfield Society & Enfield Archaeological Society will have stands here.  Lots more stalls.  Admission £3 (£2 concessions).

 

Sunday 5th September, 3-5pm:  Garden Party, The Bothy Garden, Avenue House Grounds, East End Road, N3.  Admission £5.

 

Sunday 5th September, 11am-5pm:  Angel Canal Festival, Regents Canal, City Road Basin, Islington, N1 (near LAARC).  Many stalls, boat trips & rally.  London Canal Museum & Islington Archaeology & History Society have stands here.  Free.

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