About James

I'm the Project Director and a Lecturer in Roman Archaeology at Newcastle University

Post-Excavation Assessment Finished!

At long last, here it is! 40,000 words of post-excavation assessment (PXA) on the villa excavations in 2016 and 2017. A PXA is an important technical document that outlines and assesses the discoveries we made during the excavation. It’s not a thrilling read, but it does lay out all of the evidence that we found. From this document we will write our final publication text that will draw all of our discoveries in the Lufton area together.

You can download a low resolution version of the PXA here

July 2021

All over the country archaeologists are digging and engaged in fieldwork. The sun is shining but the pandemic is still with us. James is looking out of his window wistfully, wishing he could be back in the field in Somerset excavating. It’s not going to happen this year, but who knows what the future may hold?

The post-excavation assessment is almost finished. Just one final drawing.

A delayed New Year update

Fig 7 W facing section TRB
The west facing section of the southern extension to LUF 17 Trench B

The blog has been quiet of late but work is carrying on behind the scenes. The last year or so and the pandemic has been difficult for everyone. It’s slowed archaeological research down. James did manage to give a paper on Lufton to Exeter University last year. It was, of course, a virtual paper given on MS Teams but it was well attended and a few locals from the Yeovil area even managed to join in, which was lovely to see.

James and Andy have also been working (dare they say it) on finalising the long over-due post-excavation assessment report. Both feel disappointed that the report hasn’t been completed yet but would beg our reader’s patience. It has been delayed by very challenging circumstances that have been beyond the control of both of us. We have been cracking on since the start of the year and we’re starting to see the fruits of our endeavours!

The section drawing above shows the limit of excavation in the southern extension of LUF17 Trench B. What is shows is the mosaic (1009) surrounding the plunge bath, Hayward’s trench investigating the robbed out wall of the bath house (1018) and layers of demolition collapse rubble (1003), (1005), (1010). It’s producing and interpreting this kind of evidence that makes archaeology such a complicated process.

The walls

Fig2 - the walls
The walls in Trenches A and B.

Progress has been slow but the drawings of the excavation for the post-ex assessment are coming together. Here you can see the walls we uncovered in Trenches A and B. The large Trench A encompasses the middle of the building. The new room formed by (110) and robbed walls (212) and (134/119) is clearly visible. Part of the bath house is exposed in Trench B.

These walls were drawn stone by stone by Newcastle University students. The exact positions of the walls were also plotted using GPS. They’re much wonkier than Hayward’s drawing would have us believe.

Lufton and Lockdown

It has been a while since we have posted an update on this blog. Work on the post-excavation assessment continues but is delayed by the serious illness of one of the project team.

There were plans to undertake some geophysical survey this year around the villa. Alas, the great Covid19 pandemic has stopped that work. It looks like we’ll be spending a year chained to our desks at least.

There were several major pandemics during the Roman period. The first was the so-called Antonine Plague of the late second century (AD165-180). This does seem to have reached Britain as there are inscriptions relating to it from Hadrian’s Wall.

There was also the Plague of Justinian, which occurred during the sixth-century (AD541-542). This is after the Roman period in Britain, but the Eastern Roman Empire, with its capital at Constantinople, was still very much Roman. The Plague of Justinian may have spread to Britain, where it possibly killed Maelgwn of Gwynedd – a man traditionally associated with the Maglocunus of Gildas.

If you are seeking a socially-distanced walk in these uncertain times a wander out to the site of the villa is a good option. Always tick to the footpath and obey the country code!

An autumn update

It’s been a long while since we’ve posted anything. This year James took some students digging in Yorkshire as he’s still busy working on writing up the Lufton excavations. The post-excavation assessment for the villa is more or less complete. The main outstanding task is the drawings, which due to unforeseen circumstances are taking longer than anticipated.

We hope that GeoFlo may undertake some geophysics for us in the near future. With luck this will shed more light on the ancient landscape around the Lufton villa.

 

Happy New Year!

We haven’t been posting much recently. This is mainly because we are in the final stages or preparing the post-excavation assessment. Most of it is written but some unavoidable delays have slowed the production of the plans. We hope the report will be finished this year!

In other news Patricia Witts who visited the excavations in 2017 has just had her paper ‘A new angle on the Lufton mosaics’ published in Mosaic: the journal of ASPROM. It’s a fascinating study of the pavements from Lufton and includes her up-to-date discussion of the fish mosaic around the bath.

We hope that this year will see some more geophysics undertaken in the fields around Lufton by our friends over in SSARG. We’ve a few interesting locations to work on and if this work goes ahead we’ll try and keep you posted.

 

 

 

The Summer of 2018?

A few people have got in touch with James asking whether we’ll be back digging this Summer. It’s great everyone’s so interested and keen on the project!

As we’ve been digging a Scheduled Ancient Monument for two years it seemed appropriate to take a break and analyse all of the finds we’ve made. At the moment we’re busy writing the post-excavation assessment, which is nearly complete.

We hope that we will be able to return to Lufton in the future. As ever, funding is the biggest issue. Watch this space…