About James

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

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…


A post-ex update: beads

The blog has been quiet for while. Fear not, work has been progressing on the post-excavation analysis of the finds. The soil samples from 2017 have all been sieved and the various tiny residues have been sent off to specialists for analysis.

Perhaps the most interesting discovery made in the sieving of the soil samples are a few tiny glass beads. These are lovely little objects that would have been worn as part of a necklace by a late Roman Lady.


James is currently on research leave, so is planning to crack on with writing the post-excavation assessments. He and Andy have a meeting on Monday to discuss the phasing and plans of the site.


Barrow Excavations Published!

We’re pleased to announce the publication of ‘The deserted medieval settlement at (?)Barrow, Odcombe, Somerset: trial excavations in 2014′ by James Gerrard and Andrew Agate (with contributions by Berni Seddon, Kevin Hayward, Don O’Meara and Kevin Rielly) in Volume 32 of Medieval Settlement Research, pages 60-69).

Publication is an important part of the process of archaeological investigation and this article marks the dissemination of the results of the 2014 season of excavation.

So long and thanks for all the fish

Well, we spent the day doing the last bits of recording. This included a few final sections drawings, taking a couple of kubiena samples for soil micormorphology and undertaking a 3D scan of the remains with our Faro 3D scanner.

After lunch we backfilled the trench with the help of Colin and his big machine and spread enough grass seed to reseed our trench several times over.

The rest of the day has involved packing up camp, loading the van for journey north and also washing the van….

It’s been great. A real rollercoaster of an excavation compressed into a fortnight’s hard work. We cam, we dug, we filled it in and along the way found some fish, rubble and pottery. What’s not to love?

We hope you’ve enjoyed following the blog. Please keep checking in with us as the post-excavation work will begin in earnest and new discoveries will be made in the coming months.

Thirty Fish

Today has been our penultimate day on site. Only two more sleeps until our return to Newcastle!


Not much digging happened today. It’s the end of the excavation, so most of the time was spent undertaking the last bits of vital recording. This included Charlie and Chris drawing a section (in mirror world and then the right way around) and Annetta and Antonia also drawing a section. James P and Meg undertook to draw a plan of the extension, James G and Josh were also drawing plans. Andy spent much of the day photographing the mosaic.


Lufton Mosaic

Andy’s picture of the mosaic. At the far left you can just make out the arcs of tessera that mark the nose of another fish…

It was also a day that saw quite a few visitors. In the morning, Michaela, an old school friend of James’s, came to see the mosaic with her daughter and niece. In the afternoon we were visited by half a dozen of our friends from SSARG, including Nigel and Liz who carried out the geophysics with James G back in 2009. Finally, we were visited by Pat Witts, author of A Mosaic Menagerie: creatures of land, sea and sky in Romano-British mosaics. She was thrilled to see our fish and even more excited to see that we had excavated part of ‘Panel C’. This part of the mosaic was poorly recorded in the previous excavations and it is apparent that not only does one of our fish have a turned head but just the tip of another survives. This expands the number of fish on the Lufton mosaic from 29 to 30! Not bad for two weeks in Somerset.


Pat Witts photographing the fish

Finally, it’s worth recording that back at base Josh found a four-leaf clover. May his (and our) luck continue!




A busy day and a pause

This post is being written from the farm on a stormy Wednesday. We’re rained off (again) – clearly the weather gods are restoring the balance for previous seasons when we had no rain at all.

Yesterday was a busy day in lots of ways.

James started early with a radio interview for BBC Somerset at 7.50am, he and Andy then did a run to Asda to pick up supplies for the end of the excavation. We started on site at 10am. Most of the day was involved in recording and excavating the deposits that lie outside of the building and between two of its buttresses.

The sequence between the buttresses is very interesting. When we first exposed the rubble in this area we weren’t sure whether it was backfill from Hayward’s excavation or in situ Roman deposits. What we have excavated is surely the latter. The uppermost layer was largely Yeovil Stone rubble of a small size. This is probably from the robing and collapse of the structure. Under this was a layer of smashed lias and also slate roofing tile. This shows that the building shed its roof before it collapsed or was demolished. The earliest deposit, below the roof tiles, contains a lot of Roman pottery and also animal bones. This seems to be rubbish dumped around the back of the bath house. Annetta, Charlie, Chris, James I and Josh all had a hand in excavating these deposits.


Roof collapse under excavation (above)


Roofing material (lias on the left), slate in the middle and tile on the right (Above)

Dan spent most of the day gently cleaning the mosaic with a sponge and water and Antonia was cleaning up the buttress. Andy enjoyed himself excavating the joint between the buttress and the robbed out external wall of the octagonal room.


Dan washing the floor

At 4pm we hosted our open evening, which was well attended (although not on the scale of last year’s crowd). The Yeovil Archaeological and Local History Society turned out in force and so did many members of the public (some of whom have been reading this blog). It was great to see such interest in our work by the local community.

At 7pm, tired from the day’s travails we packed up and headed to Palmer’s Fish and Chips where James bought the team (you guessed it!) fish and chips in celebration of his promotion to Senior Lecturer.




Fish Mosaic Discovered! (come and see it 4-7pm tonight)

We’ve done it!

Yesterday in the southern extension to the trench we uncovered part of the octagonal fish mosaic that ran around the bath house. This allows us to confirm that the walling we have discovered is one of the northern buttresses of the building.

It’s great to see the mosaic!


The open evening is 4pm to 7pm tonight. You can park here and there will be some of the team on hand to direct you along the footpath. You will find the villa at this point.