Rockbourne Roman Villa

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:

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:

Nicole Beale

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


Archaeological training at Basing.