Hampshire Cultural Trust is made up of many different strands. This year, we are blogging from the Archaeology Stores, managed by the Curator for Archaeology, David Allen.
We look after excavation and fieldwork archives from the county, but not the city areas of Winchester, Southampton and Portsmouth.

Our single largest archive is the Danebury collection, but there are many other substantial collections from sites like Basing House. Odiham Castle and Rockbourne Roman villa, and towns like Andover, Alton and Basingstoke. We also hold many ‘stray finds’, including items reported under the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Setting up for the Third Basing House Field Season

Today I’m working at Hampshire Cultural Trust with Dave Allen. I’m lucky because my visit times with the regular weekly volunteer day at the Archaeology Stores, managed by the Curator of Archaeology, David Allen.

To find out more about the work of David and the team, visit their excellent blog, which has a new post every Monday.

Hampshire Archaeology blog: https://hampshirearchaeology.wordpress.com/

Nicole Beale


I’ve driven down to the University of Southampton to help pack the van full of equipment. This is because we’re off to run the Basing House excavation field season on Monday. Very excited! Its chucking in down with rain so we’ve been trying to get all of the kit packed up quickly so that we can dry off.  The dig is run by the University of Southampton, the University of York and Hampshire Cultural Trust.

You can read more about this year’s field season on our blog: http://basinghouseproject.org/

Dom, Chris and the Green Shed

Nicole Beale

Researching the Human Remains at Hampshire Cultural Trust

Today I’m working at Hampshire Cultural Trust with Dave Allen. I’m lucky because my visit times with the regular weekly volunteer day at the Archaeology Stores, managed by the Curator of Archaeology, David Allen.

To find out more about the work of David and the team, visit their excellent blog, which has a new post every Monday.

Hampshire Archaeology blog: https://hampshirearchaeology.wordpress.com/

Nicole Beale

Cynthia is working with Garrard to select samples for dating, to find out more about the human remains from the Danebury environs. Today they are working on the bones from an Iron Age cemetery, Suddern Farm. The work is part of a project with Oxford University, University of Glasgow and University of Leicester, and is ongoing.

Garrard and Cynthia look at the remains from the Danebury environs

Garrard points out that there is a visible healed fracture on the radius of the left wrist of the individual that they are looking at.

Garrard points out the healed fracture

Garrard is working on an individual from Weyhill Fair that was found under the foundations of a building. There had been very little information about the individual because the remains were under a floor and did not have any other means of dating associated with them.

The work area at Chilcomb HQ

Hampshire Field Club funded the radio-carbon dating and Garrard is assessing the materials which will make up part of the report covering this research.

Garrard

Cynthia

Nicole Beale

Where art meets archaeology: Finding artefacts for an art exhibition of excavations at Calleva Atrebatum

Today I’m working at Hampshire Cultural Trust with Dave Allen. I’m lucky because my visit times with the regular weekly volunteer day at the Archaeology Stores, managed by the Curator of Archaeology, David Allen.

To find out more about the work of David and the team, visit their excellent blog, which has a new post every Monday.

Hampshire Archaeology blog: https://hampshirearchaeology.wordpress.com/

Nicole Beale

Sarah is a volunteer at Hampshire Cultural Trust and has been working with Lesley (who is not in today so we couldn’t get a snap of her!) to prepare a display on some of the material from 1970s and 1980s excavations at Calleva Atrebatum (Silchester).

Sarah – A Trust volunteer

The pieces will be on display at the Willis Museum in Basingstoke, another Trust managed museum, from the 15th to the 29th August and will accompany a special exhibition ‘Silchester: Life on the Dig’ which is made up of works by Silchester’s Artist in Residence for 2014, Jenny Halstead.

The exhibition will be on display in numerous other locations in the south, but the Silchester objects that Sarah has been selecting will be exclusive to the Willis Museum.

Sarah and Lesley need to choose a representative sample of objects, but also to identify objects that are appropriate for display, because they have an interesting feature, are not too fragile, and in the case of some of the tiny coins, large enough to see!

They picked out a selection of coins, there is also a glass bead that will be included in the display.

Coins! Lots of coins!

I don’t know what I love more, the coins, or the envelopes that the coins are stored in

Lovely coins

The glass bead

Sarah is holding a whetstone that is a fragment of sandstone, originally used as a roof tile, and then reused as a whetstone to sharpen chisels.

Sarah is holding the whetstone

The whetstone

The Samian bowl is very attractive and caught the eye of both of them when they were selecting items. It has all sorts of animals, including a deer, a goat, a hare, a boar, a bird, a dolphin, around the outside of it, and Sarah and Lesley thought that it would be fun to find out a bit more about the decoration. The bowl was made in Lezoux in the 2nd century AD.

The Samian bowl

A boar and a hunting dog?

A hare

The pair also found some nice details on some of the tiles in the stores, including one that has a clear dog print on it.

Some of the tiles and brickwork from Silchester

Naughty dog

Finally, just before re-packaging the items to be sent over to the Willis Museum, Sarah needs to type and print labels that will go on display alongside the objects. This task can be quite time consuming as it is nice to be able to provide a little contextual information for each object, and so some research must be done for some of the less common artefacts.

The objects will be on display at the Willis Museum in Basingstoke: http://hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/willis-museum

Nicole Beale

Taking the Iron Age to the Romans: Researching Iron Age finds for an open day at Rockbourne Roman Villa

Today I’m working at Hampshire Cultural Trust with Dave Allen. I’m lucky because my visit times with the regular weekly volunteer day at the Archaeology Stores, managed by the Curator of Archaeology, David Allen.

To find out more about the work of David and the team, visit their excellent blog, which has a new post every Monday.

Hampshire Archaeology blog: https://hampshirearchaeology.wordpress.com/

Nicole Beale

Two of the Trust’s volunteers, Peter and Jane, have spent the morning working through a collection of artefacts from a late Iron Age site near to Rockbourne.

Peter and Jane checking objects against the archive inventory

The site was excavated in the mid-1970s as part of a British Gas pipeline being installed, and our intrepid volunteers have been doing some detective work to try to make connections between the objects from the stores here at Chilcomb and the paper archive which was published some time ago.

Objects need to be located and then checked. This is also a great opportunity to re-pack some of the more fragile objects.

Rockbourne Roman Villa is run by the Trust and this weekend will be hosting a family fun day. The event organisers want to celebrate the area’s Iron Age connections, and so the team at Chilcomb have been set to task to find objects to showcase on the day.

In the first few boxes, they had already found some great objects to be taken up to Rockbourne for visitors to see.

Lots to work through!

In one of the boxes, Jane unpacks a huge tankard. It’s much larger than we had all expected and lots of jokes about the serious business of beer-drinking in the Iron Age ensue.

Jane finds an Iron Age tankard

The huge tankard

Unpacking the tankard

Next, they unpack fragments of a kiln lip. On the underside there are clear finger-marks, left from where the clay had been quickly shaped.

The kiln rim

The pair spend some time focussing on the profile of a Late Iron Age large pot that is in several parts, and manage to piece it back together. It will provide a great prop for showing younger visitors how archaeologists can infer pot shapes from diagnostic sherds.

Hang on a minute, I think there’s a good profile here…

Does this go here?

Now we’ve got it!

Tucked into one of the boxes is a nice example of a spindle whorl and also a small box which contains a bronze pin, probably from a brooch.

The brooch pin (you can just see the spindle whorl under Jane’s right hand)

A big pot!

Still plenty left to unpack and check

Peter and Jane

We’ll create labels for all of these objects and then transport them up to Rockbourne in time for the event on Sunday. Do come along if you’re in the area.

More about the event: http://hampshireculturaltrust.org.uk/event/festival-british-archaeology-experience-iron-age

Nicole Beale

Itchy trowel syndrome

Jude Jones and Dr Yvonne Marshall in the finds hut

Jude Jones and Dr Yvonne Marshall in the finds hut

I went along yesterday to our Basing House excavation (currently underway in partnership with students and staff from the University of Southampton).  Officially I had my Conservator hat on, but once the duties of handing over a dry box and some silica gel were performed, and having found the finds hut running like clockwork I confess to whipping the trowel out and jumping in the nearest pit 🙂

Claire Woodhead, Conservator

For  more detailed progress reports, follow the dig on http://basinghousecat.wordpress.com

RocDam Basing Jam

It’s that time of year when our historic sites (those looked after by Hampshire County Council) shake off their Spring sleeping dust and shout out for Summer holiday participation.  This weekend sees a combination of an Archaeology Activity Day at Rockbourne Roman Villa, a Young Archaeologists Club Visit to Basing House, with the latter site also hosting a special ‘conservation workshop’ (restoring the brickwork is a more or less constant concern there) and a training excavation for students from the University of Southampton.  As the ‘person in the middle’, rather than muddle, I hope,  it’s my job to find good resource material and provide exciting opportunities.

Rockbourne is ‘RocDam’ at the moment as it’s linking with the archaeological work at Damerham – a neighbouring community project focused on long and round barrows.  These are obviously an archaeological world away from a Roman Villa, but there are some good points of comparison.  The project has already seen a school drama production, telling the story of the discovery of the sites and this weekend’s event will feature a new ‘excavation pit’ full of sherds, stones and bones and many other activities.  I’m currently sorting out some human bone for an osteology workshop and pepping up the site tour.

At Basing, the discovery of an in situ stone fireplace, hidden for centuries in the ruins, will be a good focus for the conservation day talks, and the dig – re-examining a few trenches not backfilled in the 1960s, will speak for itself.  The Young Archaeologists should be able to have a dig and I’m busy looking in the Museum stores to find some of the material dug up 50 years ago, just in case they draw a  blank.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The digpit at Rockbourne - ready and waiting

The digpit at Rockbourne – ready and waiting

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Archaeological training at Basing.

Hampshire County Council Arts & Museums Service & University of Southampton

Basing House, Hampshire – In the mid 1960s the Aldermaston Archaeological Society did several seasons of work on the fringes of Basing House. In particular they sectioned the Civil War defensive siege works and found significant layers of late Iron Age and Roman activity sealed beneath them.

The results of the excavations were rapidly published in the Hants Field Club Proceedings, but  the ‘grid box system’ they employed was never properly backfilled. This left the trenches as an unsightly rash on the smoother contours of the siege works and Hampshire County Council obtained SMC to re-examine the site and restore the original profiles.  This in turn has led to a partnership with the University of Southampton who, earlier in the year, used the site to teach their geophysics module.

Now that the digging season is upon us, a training excavation is re-opening and redefining  the trenches of 50 years ago.  It’s early days, but the students are already getting to grips  with the layout of the original dig. Local society members are taking part too, and the dig has a strong community education aspect.

David Allen, Keeper of Archaeology at HCC Arts & Museums Service

Basing house - defining the 1960's boxes

For  more detailed progress reports, follow the dig on http://basinghousecat.wordpress.com

Counted Out and Counted In

The Hampshire Arts & Museums Service archaeology collections are stored in c 18,000 boxes, using c 450 cu m of space.  The largest single collection is Danebury and Environs which equals about 10% of the whole.  The Service uses MODES as its object database and although it has 60,000 records relating to archaeology the coverage is far from comprehensive.  A current initiative involves volunteers in checking the records against the actual material and refining it where appropriate.  Beneath a colourful representation of an Iron Age battle scene (Danebury Ring) Jane King sorts through the records relating to human remains, before checking them against the material in store.

Skeletons, but not in cupboards

Hampshire Arts & Museums Service is carrying out an audit of all the human remains in its Collections.  Where appropriate, this includes the rebagging and reboxing of material.  Garrard Cole, currently an Hon Research Assistant at UCL, is tackling four skeletons from Harrow Way Farm, Penton Mewsey, excavated by the Test Valley Archaeological Trust in 1988.  This improvement in the physical storage conditions goes hand in hand with an update of the associated records and  compilation of a database.