September Update

There’s been quite a lot going on recently.

In Newcastle James has been busy writing applications to raise funds for next year’s proposed excavation of the villa. Meanwhile Andy and James have also been busy writing the application for Scheduled Monuments Consent – a legal requirement of any excavation of a nationally important monument like the villa.

We’re also very pleased to announce that the Yeovil Archaeological and Local History Society has agreed to make a financial contribution to next year’s excavation! This local archaeological society was set up by Leonard Hayward – the excavator of the villa – and we’re very grateful for their pledge of support.

Our friends in the South Somerset Archaeological Research Group are also busy carrying out some more geophysical survey for the project. This is excellent news and we’re all very pleased and grateful for the SSARG members’ continuing efforts to support the research. Keep an eye on the blog for further updates about this work.

Holly, who dug with us this year, has been busy over the Summer preparing the archives from the previous four season’s of work for deposition in the Somerset Heritage Centre. Holly has been employed on a Newcastle Work Experience bursary funded by the School of History, Classics and Archaeology and the University’s Career Service.

Hayley (a veteran of two season’s digging) has also been carrying out some research for the project as part of a University Vacation Scholarship.

Beyond the Villa: 5000 years of human activity at Lufton, Somerset



 The Archaeology Committee of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society 




 Dr James Gerrard

Saturday 28th March 2015

10am – 4pm

Westland Conference & Leisure Complex, Yeovil


 The morning will feature a panel of speakers on recent archaeological discoveries in and around Yeovil, including: 

The Bunford Hollow excavation

The archaeology & history of the Westlands site

Archaeological recording at St John’s Church

After lunch our keynote speaker, Dr James Gerrard will talk about new archaeological discoveries in the Lufton Villa Landscape over the past five years.

 Admission: £12.00

 Tickets available on the door.

To book in advance visit the SANHS Online Shop at

email:  or  Tel: 01823 272429.

 Ploughmans lunch available for £5.50 with advance booking only.



Lufton Graduates

Lufton excavators graduate in 2014 © Newcastle University

Lufton excavators graduate in 2014 © Newcastle University

Congratulations to Fraser, Georgia, Lucy, Danni, Johanna and Ellie (who couldn’t make it for this picture). They have all their survived fieldwork at Lufton and gone on to graduate from their degrees.

The Project would like to wish them all the best for the future (especially Lucy who will be rejoining the team for this season’s excavations!)


2012 Excavation Report Now Available

The preliminary report on the 2012 excavations has been completed and can be downloaded by following the link below.

This report is a ‘post-excavation assessment’. As the name suggests, this is a provisional statement that assesses the significance of the excavation. It also includes lists of finds, records and a stratigraphic matrix for the site.

Any questions about the assessment should be directed to Dr James Gerrard.

Lufton Post-Excavation Assessment 2012

Plan of the 2012 Excavations

James and Andy are busy finishing the report on the 2012 excavations. When completed this report will be submitted to the Historic Environment Record.

Andy has spent some time turning the site drawings into a plan of the excavation. The Bronze Age ring ditch is [010] and [030] and is cut by Iron Age ditch [005]/[036].

Further information about the Bronze Age and Iron Age in Somerset can be found in the South Western Archaeological Research Framework.


Plan of the 2012 trench showing prehistoric features © Andrew Agate and The Lufton Project.



Excavation is a small part of the archaeological process. We dig for a little while but spend much longer trying to figure out what our discoveries mean. Finds analysis is a big part of the post-excavation work. Our flint assemblage was looked at by Dr Rob Young and this post is based on his analysis.

Flints were used by prehistoric peoples for tools. They worked (or knapped) the flint to produce edges that were sharper than surgical steel. A wide variety of prehistoric stone tools are known but the object illustrated below is a heavy and thick end scraper of Neolithic or Bronze Age date. It is roughly contemporary with the ring-ditch we dug in 2012.

Flint scraper of Neolithic/Bronze Age date © Rob Young and the Lufton Project

Excavations 2012 Week 3

The third and final week saw the trench extended and a lot of work to investigate the ditches and sort some modern features (including a septic tank outfall pipe) from the ancient features.

Excavation 2012

Excavating in Week 3 © The Lufton Project


As archaeological excavation is destruction it was important that everything was properly recorded. A lot of drawings, photographs and paperwork were completed.

Danni Recording

Danni Recording © The Lufton Project

Towards the end of the excavation Mr Unwin (the landowner) came to look at our trench, He was a very genial and tolerant host and the project is very grateful to Mr Unwin and his family for the support they are giving to this work.

The Landowner and James

James shows Mr Norman Unwin the trench © The Lufton Project

At the end of the week we had some help from Jamie and Carole Pullen. They lent us a digger and driver to backfill our trench! Then we put the turf back and headed back to Newcastle.


Backfilling the trench © The Lufton Project


Excavations 2012 Week 2

Over the weekend we talked to lots of visitors at the open day. Then on Sunday our prayers were answered. The heavens opened and it rained.

Wet Trench

James surveying a wet trench © The Lufton Project


Some water in the soil meant that we could see the archaeology and that the digging was a bit easier.

Excavating 2012

The ring-ditch is revealed as we begin to define and excavate features © The Lufton Project


We worked hard to define and begin to excavate the features. We were rewarded with some tiny pieces of Early to Middle Bronze Age pottery from the ring ditch and some Iron Age pottery from the big ditch.

Kristjan and Fraser

Kristjan and Fraser working hard © The Lufton Project

We made good progress in Week 2. The water bowser that seemed so important to have in the dryness of Week 1 was a bit redundant…

We went into Week 3 feeling pretty happy with what we’d discovered.


Excavations 2012 Week 1

In 2012 we carried out a three week excavation to investigate geophysical anomalies identified in Mr Unwin’s Field. One of these anomalies was circular (B on the graphic below) and such features are usually termed ‘ring-ditches‘, the other was a linear anomaly that was likely to be a ditch (A on the graphic below). The excavation was designed to work out whether the ring-ditch was a part of a burial mound or a prehistoric house and whether it came before or after the ditch.

Geophysics of Mr Unwin's Field © GeoFlo and The Lufton Project

The trench was laid out as a 10m x 10m square and excavated by hand. We started by removing the turf and then, in what was about the only hot and dry week of the Summer, we started excavating.


Cutting the turf © The Lufton Project

We removed ploughsoil and subsoil to a depth of about 0.4m. If a cubic metre of sand weighs about a tonne, we shifted about 40tonnes of spoil by hand! At 40cm deep we were on top of a layer archaeologists call ‘the natural’. This is a geological deposit (in our case a nasty clay) that pre-dates all human activity. Cut into the natural were some features. These included the ditch and arc of the ring-ditch we were looking for. These features were filled with a slightly darker and moister sediment than the surrounding natural and are visible in the following photos as dark stains.

The Roundhouse is Found

Newcastle Students Kate and Ellie along with local volunteers Pete and Robin have found the ring ditch (visible as a dark arc in the deepest part of the trench). © The Lufton Project

The week was really dry and by the end of it the clay had baked hard. The dried out features had all but disappeared from view. We prayed for rain

End of Week 1 2012

Brown, brown and brown. The trench has dried out and the archaeology's invisible © The Lufton Project