The Lufton Project has been quiet for sometime. The pandemic and James’s commitments elsewhere have meant that there’s been little to report since the completion of the post-excavation assessment.
That said, we are slowly re-booting the project. For some time James has been talking to Nigel and Liz at GeoFlo and SSARG about completing the geophysics in the villa field. We started surveying that field way back in 2010 but for various reasons never finished the survey. Instead the geophysics moved southwards towards the road. This loose end needs to be tied off, so we hope that in the next few months the geophysics of the villa field will be completed. We’ll try and post an update when that work is completed.
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.
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.
A few years back we surveyed the enormous field known as Hungerford (where our excavations were located this year). Being gluttons for punishment our friends in SSARG have recently returned to Lufton to survey another much smaller field known as 2nd Hungerford.
2nd Hungerford is really interesting because it’s immediately east of the villa. In fact it’s between the villa and the Roman road that runs from Ilchester to Dorchester. This is an area of interest because way back in 1977 Mick Aston (before his Time Team fame) thought he’d spotted what might be a Roman road linking the villa to the Ilchester-Dorchester road. Our earlier surveys detected no sign of this road so we hoped further info might be forthcoming from the survey of 2nd Hungerford.
After a lot of effort the survey of 2nd Hungerford has been a bit disappointing. We’ve found little evidence of past activity and no clear evidence of a road line. Most Roman roads were flanked by two drainage ditches, which we should detect in our geophysics. So the mystery or Mick’s road remains a mystery…
Meanwhile James and Andy are still writing grant applications and pondering over the recent sharing of open LiDAR data by the Environment Agency.
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.
It’s been a pretty exciting week. James was contacted by BBC Countryfile about the research he, Liz and Ali had undertaken on green waste and archaeological geophysics. They were so interested that they asked him, Liz and Nigel to contribute to an upcoming episode.
So last Thursday James was interviewed by Tom Heap of the Countryfile Team about the challenges posed by green waste. In the afternoon the BBC moved on to interview Jamie the farmer.
The programme will, we understand, be aired on the 24th May. Lufton research going national and a testament to the hard work that everyone has put into the project.
We’ll soon be in Somerset starting our 2015 excavation. As a taster here’s the geophysics of our target area.
The survey on the left was undertaken recently and shows a marked deterioration in the survey results – perhaps a result of green waste (for which see James, Liz and Ali’s paper in Archaeological Prospection)
The geophysics shows a complicated group of anomalies that we hope will be a trackway and parts of enclosure systems and possibly buildings associated with the villa. We won’t be able to dig it all (alas!) but we’ll have an opportunity to evaluate these features.
SOMERSET ARCHAEOLOGICAL & NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY
The Archaeology Committee of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society
The 2015 ANNUAL ARCHAEOLOGY DAY
BEYOND THE VILLA: 5000 YEARS OF HUMAN ACTIVITYAT LUFTON
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.
Tickets available on the door.
To book in advance visit the SANHS Online Shop at www.SANHS.org
email: email@example.com or Tel: 01823 272429.
Ploughmans lunch available for £5.50 with advance booking only.
During our geophysical surveys around Lufton we discovered that the use of ‘green waste’ on arable fields was causing interference to our magnetometer surveys. This interference would appear to be due to iron contaminants present in the green waste.
Given the scale that green waste is being used on in the UK and Europe this phenomenon could have significant implications for shallow geophysical prospection.
Our research has recently been published in the journal Archaeological Prospection as: Gerrard, J., Caldwell, L. and Kennedy, A. 2015 ‘Green waste and archaeological geophysics’. Archaeological Prospection
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.