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.

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.


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 2015 – updates and the like

After much plotting and planning we’re pleased to announce that we will be digging again this Easter!

Even as we write Nigel, Liz and the gang in Somerset are working to re-survey our target excavation area.

The new team will be James G (Director); Andrew Agate (Co-Director); James H (Assistant Supervisor); Hayley and Chris (experienced excavators) along with Douglas; Elliott; Zara; Mara; Tilly; Josh and Holly-Ann. What a team!

In the meantime James G is on research leave and hopes that be before we return to Somerset the 2013 post-excavation assessment will be completed. Work is also progressing on the 2014 post-excavation assessment and just this morning Don O’Meara was finalising the report on the iron working slag. Apparently we have evidence from Barrow for medieval smithing (the working of iron, but not its production from iron ores).

In other news the paper James, Liz and Ali wrote on greenwaste and archaeological geophysics has been accepted for publication by the top geophysics journal Archaeological Prospection. Once it’s published we’ll add a link to the article.

November Update

It’s been a while since we posted. Partly this is a consequence of other commitments, in particular the start of the new academic year.

The project is progressing along at a nice pace. A pottery report on the 2013 season has been completed and Andy is busy working on the plans from the 2013 excavation too. All this effort means that pretty soon James will start having to write it up in earnest.

Post-excavation analysis of the 2014 work has been ongoing too. The stone objects have been sent to Dr Kevin Hayward for analysis and the lithics to Dr Rob Young. Reports from both specialists are eagerly awaited. James also wrote a short report on the excavations for the Medieval Settlement Research Group.

Meanwhile James popped down to Somerset recently and spoke at SSARGs Cadbury Day. It’s hoped that we might make some more formal connections with the Tintinhull Landscape Archaeology Project being mentored by Dr John Davey (Exeter).

Finally, Andy and James had a meeting recently about planing 2015’s expedition…

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!)


Last Year’s post-ex

Post-excavation work on last year’s excavation is still on-going. Normally we like to have an assessment of our work complete before returning to the field for another season of work. However, this year we haven’t been able to do this because James has been very busy with teaching and research commitments and Andy is busy wrapping his PhD up. Not to fear though – the work is in progress.

If you were following last season’s blog you might remember that Dave and Cubby found a very nice greyware flagon of Roman date in a ditch.


Dave worked on the pottery assemblage for one of his second year modules (ARA2101 Artefacts) and produced a very nice drawing, which will go into the assessment report when it’s complete.

Flaggon UNW13 (2)

Our last post from the dig!

We have come to the end of our three weeks here in Somerset and will be sad to wave goodbye to it tomorrow morning…But first, we’d like to thank everyone who made this dig possible:

James and Liz Tabor for allowing us to camp in their field, SSARG for their amazing volunteers and lending us their HQ and some equipment, GeoFlo for their surveys of the fields, Nigel Harvey for his hospitality, Mr and Mrs Unwin and their son Robert for allowing us to dig up their land, Colin and Maggie Baker for their tractor and time, Liz Glaisher and Brympton Parish Council for their support and donations, Liz Caldwell, James Hooper for his ‘big yellow trowel’, The Rt Hon David Laws MP for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit the site, Mike Charles (Ski) for his metal-detecting expertise, Mary Loxton, James and Carol Pullen, the good people of Yeovil, Brympton and Sutton Montis, the Western Gazette, The Camelot, Mudford Stores, Caffè Nero, Bartington Instruments, all of our readers – especially Marie Robinson – and the team’s friends and families.

Without all of you Lufton 2013 wouldn’t have been possible – THANK YOU!

And keep checking the blog for updates on the analysis of this year’s finds.


Team Lufton 2013 L-R from back row: Graham, Cubby, middle row: Dave, Georgia, Danni, James, El, Johanna, Lucy, Pete, front: Andy. © The Lufton Project.

We came, we dug, we backfilled.

Today was our last day on site and it’s fair to say that it was a bit emotional for some.


The tractor backfilling trench B © The Lufton Project

As the tractor started pushing in the tonnes of earth that we have spent three weeks painstakingly digging the sense of finality really hit home – it’s difficult to believe that most of us won’t be digging again for at least a year!

After packing up our site tent and equipment and reseeding the soil, we headed off to Ham Hill to visit the research excavation there and take in the view of Somerset – our home for nearly a month.


Some of the team relaxing in Mr Unwin's field with trench B in the background © The Lufton Project

Off to the Camelot now to relax before our barbecue tonight!