Early stones

The earliest feature excavated during the Summer of 2014 was a ?ditch beneath a layer, which we nicknamed ‘crunchy red’ on site.

This little ditch produced a handful of fragments of rock. It was immediately apparent that these fragments of rock were igneous and thus were thus imported to the site (the local geology is sedimentary).

Dr Kevin Hayward has examined these rocks for us and believes that this light green medium grained igneous rock, with white feldspar laths may have come from a number of possible sources. He writes:

The first are the dyke intrusions at Cheddon-Fitzpaine, 20km to the NW near Taunton, described as a Lamprophyre and seen at Yarford villa as rubble . Further away in Devon (40km) there are Early Permian intrusions and Volcanics from the Exeter Volcanic Series. These were identified in rubble fragments from the nearby Late Iron Age to Roman excavations at Montacute. Saddle quern in a pinker granodiorite was also recorded from later 2011 excavations at Montacute where a Cornish source is suggested as was a basic spotted dolerite macehead from these excavations. All bear some similarity to the fragments from Barrow.

The stones are likely to be part of a prehistoric object. We need to look carefully at the pottery from the ‘crunchy red’ and other early deposits. Nevertheless the geological report has confirmed that we have a long stratigraphic sequence at Barrow, running from prehistory through to the  medieval period.


News on a Brick…

Dr Kevin Hayward, a specialist in geological materials and ceramic building materials at Pre-Construct Archaeology, is examining the stone and brick finds from the Barrow DMV excavations.

He’s recently completed a report on part of a stamped brick we found in the upper fill of the medieval ditch. The brick probably belonged to a small barn that used to stand in the field and was demolished in the 1970s when the earthworks were bulldozed.

The following is an extract of Kevin’s report on the brick:

The edge of quarter of a kiln brick with a curved incomplete stamp read

…WN   CLA…

Each letter measured 15mm high with a neat stamped suggesting machine impression, typical of late 19th to early-mid 20th century manufacturer.

Consultation of the web site for brick stamps  could not find a match. However it would seem likely that the second word CLA forms part of CLAY or CLAYWORKS

The Crown Clay Company operating in the same district of Bristol (St Georges – Crews hole) on the bank of the River Avon as the Bristol Clay Company (see below) between 1880 and 1887 is a possible candidate given the lettering …WN CLAY


Kiln or refractory bricks were used from the second quarter of the 19th century onwards in response for the demand for building materials that could resist the increasingly high temperatures required in the iron and steel making processes, gas retorts, as well as kiln and glass manufacturing industries to name but a few. They are also associated with boilers, locomotives, ovens and any process that involves high temperatures – even heated greenhouses.

Geological Origin

The clay, derived from high alumina and silica palaeosols from the Upper Carboniferous Coal Measures is not local to this part of Somerset dominated by geologically younger Lower Jurassic sands, clays calcareous limestones and limestones. However with the advent of the railways, kiln bricks were distributed throughout the UK from fireclay manufacturers in the West Midlands (Stourbridge); South Wales, South Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear and Glasgow.

The Somerset Coalfield, some 30km NNE, lies closest to Lufton. With the Bristol Coalfield (further west) also relatively close by. Fireclays from these deposits were worked and manufactured into kiln bricks e.g. The Bristol Fire Clay Company in operation from at least 1876 to 1911 and Crown Clay Works 1880 to 1887 and Crown Brick and Tile Company into the first decade of the twentieth century

November Update

It’s been a while since we posted. Partly this is a consequence of other commitments, in particular the start of the new academic year.

The project is progressing along at a nice pace. A pottery report on the 2013 season has been completed and Andy is busy working on the plans from the 2013 excavation too. All this effort means that pretty soon James will start having to write it up in earnest.

Post-excavation analysis of the 2014 work has been ongoing too. The stone objects have been sent to Dr Kevin Hayward for analysis and the lithics to Dr Rob Young. Reports from both specialists are eagerly awaited. James also wrote a short report on the excavations for the Medieval Settlement Research Group.

Meanwhile James popped down to Somerset recently and spoke at SSARGs Cadbury Day. It’s hoped that we might make some more formal connections with the Tintinhull Landscape Archaeology Project being mentored by Dr John Davey (Exeter).

Finally, Andy and James had a meeting recently about planing 2015’s expedition…