Hungerford 2015 report now available

We’re pleased to announce that our post-excavation assessment of the 2015 excavations in Hungerford has just been completed and is available to download.

This report, authored by Dr James Gerrard and Andrew Agate with the assistance of Holly-Ann Carl includes contributions by Don O’Meara, Suzi Richer, David Heslop and Rob Young.

A copy has been submitted to the Somerset Historic Environment Record.

Of oysters and charcoal

When Hayward and his team dug the villa in the 1940s and 1960s archaeological science was in its infancy. Today we have a whole array of scientific techniques that can be used to shed new light on the villa and its inhabitants.


Above: Hayward’s excavations

The starting point was taking all of our samples over to local archaeological firm GeoFlo. GeoFlo are specialists in wet sieving archaeological soil samples. Over the next few weeks Nigel and Liz will run wet sieve all of our samples – burnt seeds and the like will float (known as the ‘flot‘) and these will be sent to various specialists for analysis. Shells of molluscs and other tiny fragments of fish bone and the like will be caught in sieves with tiny meshes. These tiny fragments will also need to be sent to various archaeological scientists.

Lufton is a long way from the coast and one of the things that we’re quite interested in is determining where all the oysters came from. There are tow logical options: the Dorset coast or the Bristol Channel. Ancient oyster specialist Dr Jessica Winder will look at our oysters and we hope that she’ll be able to shed light on this element of our villa’s inhabitants.


Above: Oyster shells on the tessellated pavement – a late Roman snack?

Finally, we took a soil micromorphology sample from the burnt deposits that Hayley and Co. excavated. This sample, in a kubiena tin, is going to Cambridge University to be prepared and thin sectioned. Newcastle’s Dr Lisa-Marie Shillito will then undertake the analysis of this sample and hopefully tell us how these deposits accumulated.

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Above: Burnt deposits in Room 1

The post-excavation analysis begins

It’s been a week since we all returned from Somerset. Most of us (James and Andy included) have been taking it easy after a grueling four weeks in the field and in anticipation of the start of the academic year.

One of the bits of Lufton related work James has been up to is provisionally cataloging the uncleaned coins. Just for interest’s sake the barchart below shows all of the excavated and identifiable (so far!) coins excavated from Lufton (this year and by Hayward) as per mills values by Reece period. As a point of comparison Phillipa Walton‘s British Mean values are included too.

This is a VERY PROVISIONAL analysis but the strength of Lufton in the early to mid fourth century AD is very noticeable. One of the odd aspects of this year’s excavation was our failure to find any coins later than AD364. Late fourth century coins are quite common at villas in the West Country and we’re not sure why ours are missing (especially as Hayward found three coins of the House of Valentinian).

Lufton coins

James reckons about 15 coins will need to be cleaned and conserved. This will happen in October. It’ll be interesting to see if they change the above diagram…