A blast from the past

We’re all back in Newcastle safe and sound but the work never stops.

James and Andy are thinking about NEXT season – which is their cunning plan comes to fruition is going to require quite a lot of thought and planning!

Meanwhile Don O’Meara has assessed the slag from the 2014 excavations of the deserted medieval village of ?Barrow. This is what Don has to say:

“The evidence suggest that secondary-smithing was taking place at this site; i.e. the making, or repair, of iron objects from consolidated bar iron as opposed to the smelting of ore, or the primary working of unconsolidated iron bloom material. Specifically, tap slag was not identified, which would be typical of smelting operations. This was determined both by the surface morphology of the material, and the generally small and uniform vesicle sizes. The smithing hearth bases are formed by the reaction of iron scale, silica and the clay lining which form the base of the smithing hearth, and are common finds from medieval sites. The volume of material recovered at this stage does not suggest very extensive metal-working, though as this material is not likely to be transported for long distances it suggests that the iron-working was taking place within the immediate area of the excavation.”

Interesting stuff.


Everything’s dug and recorded!

Yesterday saw the last bits of digging and recording on site. James, Josh, Elliott, Douglas and Andy dug a bit more of the post-medieval ditch in the hope of finding some artefacts that would allow us to date the feature more precisely. Alas, a whole load of digging produced nothing.

Elsewhere the southernmost ditches were recorded. Acres of clay were trowelled to a gleaming standard of cleanliness and photographed. Then the grid was pulled up, the tent taken down and we adjourned to the Mason’s Arms and the Prince of Wales.

Andy retired to the comforts of civilisation while the rest of the team contemplated life in the real world. Most seem to have preferred ‘barnlife’.

Today we’ve been tidying up camp and returning tools and soil samples to SSARG. Later we’ll be heading into Dorchester  where James will be giving a talk.

Elliott, Ellie, Samara and Zara have already left. The rest of the team will be leaving tomorrow for the start of term on Monday!

The End Looms Near

We had another day of brilliant weather on site, providing great conditions for the team as the recording and final stages of excavation ramp up!

In terms of excavations: Hayley and Ellie put a slot in the southern-most feature in the trench; James, Andy, Tilly and Zara removed the section from (007) finding yet more pottery. Meanwhile, slightly further south Samara continued to excavate her ditch, finding today’s star find – a fragment of what might be a clay loom weight.



Further north on the recording front: Chris, Douglas, Holly-Ann and James H were tasked with drawing 30m sections of the limit of excavation (LoE). The section was the largest any of them had every recorded, but luckily we had help from Woofton!



Had visits from Matt, a Newcastle University student and members of the Yeovil Archaeological and Local History Society: Brian and Moira.

It may seem like we’re wrapping things up already, but there’s still much to be done on site before the week’s end!

All the Pretty Visitors

We found it hard to believe that we had been rained off site just last week with the brilliant conditions today – not a cloud in the sky!

It was a busy day on site, with many features being worked on and many visitors to site. Our first arrival was a local prospective V400 (BA Archaeology) student, Hugh, who came to get a taste of what an archaeological site is like.


We also had a visit from a local landowner Robert Unwin – whose land we excavated in throughout the 2012 and 2013 seasons, as well as James’ friends Nick and Suzie.

We made great progress on site with both the northern and southern ditches of the trackway being fully excavated. The southern ditch gave us our star find of the day, found by Douglas, a single BB1 body sherd – allowing us to roughly date the context. Meanwhile Chris and Holly-Ann removed a layer at the northern end of the finding pottery and burnt flint.


Samara and Zara began excavating a feature at the southern end of the trench finding some large pieces of worked flint, animal bone and BB1 sherds. Tilly, Josh, Elliott and Andy worked on the second slot in (007) finding a huge amounts of BB1, flints and vitrified ash.


All-on-all today has been a good start to the final week of excavations.

Death from Above & The One Ring

Saturday saw quite a lot of activity on site. After the recent heavy rain there was a lot of activity by James, James H, Chris, Tilly and Elliot in the northern end of the trench tidying up the ditches in preparation for photos and recording.


Nick Corcos of Avon Archaeology visited us and used a drone to take some overhead shots. This was great fun and James H had the opportunity to help out. There was a little bit of interest in the drone from the local buzzards who are still waiting and watching in anticipation of a free lunch.

Meanwhile in the southern end of the trench Andy, Hayley, Ellie, Zara, Mara and Josh began excavating (007) – a very nice ditch fill that we identified on day two. The finds came thick and fast (for this year!) and soon we had a small handful of BB1 sherds and a couple flakes of flint.



Josh made the star find though: a rather plain copper-alloy finger-ring of Roman date. It was great to find this object, which proved a useful morale boost. We are currently trying to ascertain whether Josh will soon need to embark on a long journey to cast this ring into a volcano.





Due to the poor weather forecast for this morning the team had a late start, we reconvened at noon to assess the situation. After a brief visit to site, James and Andy gathered the team and headed over.

Many of the features that are in the process of being excavated were too wet to continue with. We therefore took advantage of the moist conditions to trowel back the surface of the trench to find any features that may not have been visible under normal conditions. After the team had finished it was apparent that several new features were visible, success!

We broke for a tea break, during which James and Andy called an end to the day early due to worsening conditions onsite. Despite a short day we’ve made the best of a bad situation. With a promising forecast for tomorrow we will be back for a full day onsite before next week.

Soiled in Somerset!

This morning we gathered in the grain barn, many of us with grim looks on our faces due to drizzle.

James began the day by talking to the team about what we’d accomplished on site, in relation to the project research questions. He asked the students what they thought of the site, and their interpretation. James then explained his current interpretation of the excavated area, why we had less finds than anticipated and what the finds we do have mean in relation to the site. Reinvigorated by a greater understanding of the archaeology and the project, the team piled into the minibus not deterred by the weather.

We arrived on site and returned to our features from yesterday: James H, Chris, Holly-Ann and Sue cleaned and prepped the two Northern-most ditches for photographs and recording. Meanwhile Hayley, Tilly and Samara drew the section for the Post-Medieval ditch.

When we broke for our first tea break it was apparent the weather had continued to decline throughout the morning, James and Andy decided to stop the work on site until the weather improved. All-in-all despite the mud and the rain the team were in incredibly high spirits, filthy from head-to-toe we returned to our grain barn to dry off.





We will return to site tomorrow and crack on!

We Plough On!

Today started much like yesterday had finished – arriving on site we returned to the features we were working on yesterday.

Hayley and Josh finished their feature (a ditch that might define one side of a trackway visible on the geophysics) and prepped it for photographing, Zara and Ellie joined in when the section and plan was drawn. James H and Holly-Ann finished removing the layer at the northern end of the trench, the area was then trowelled back to reveal any underlying features. Meanwhile Holly-Ann moved to help Chris in excavating a ditch further north – hoping to gain more dating evidence for the feature.

After finding the impressive Millstone yesterday Ellie and Zara pressed on and continued to excavate Andy’s ditch. Elliot and James H were then tasked with removing the fill from a ditch that is part of the many complex stratigraphic features at the Northern end of the trench.

The afternoon saw some finds being unearthed, Brian found a piece of worked flint. Having moved to a feature revealed in yesterdays trowelling, Hayley and Josh found some bone, flint and pottery after chipping away only a few centimetres of the fill. The slot of the Post-Medieval ditch Douglas and Sue were working on had been finished, and, with Andy’s guidance, they filled in the paperwork for the feature.


Today seemed to take a lot out of the team, I think we’re due an early night in anticipation for a hard day tomorrow. It would seem our luck may have run out with rain forecast for tomorrow but we can handle it!