Back in Newcastle

James is writing this from the comfort of his home on a rather damp bank holiday Sunday.

The hard work of the excavation ended on Friday when James and Elliot watched the machine backfill the trench and reseeded the area. With the students ferried back to the train station the supervisors and directors retired to the Masons Arms for a fine evening meal. On Saturday they left Somerset early and heading up the motorway at light speed (also known as 62mph) we made it back to Newcastle (dropping Hayley at Wetherby Services  on the way) in record time.

A hideous couple of hours followed and James, Andy and Elliot struggled to get all the finds and equipment properly stored at the University. By 7pm we were all home, back amidst our respective families and coming to grips with such innovations as walls and meals that involve rice.

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It’s been our most successful season. We’ve achieved more than we imagined we could and revolutionized our understanding of the Lufton Roman villa. The long process of post-excavation analysis follows, so make sure you stay tuned to the blog for updates.

We’d like to thank the excavation team for all their hardwork in sometimes difficult and trying conditions. We’d also like to thank the local community for their interest, patience and generosity.

Particular thanks go to: Maggie and Colin Baker (our hosts), James and Carol Pullen (landowners), Liz Glaisher and Peter Seib (Brympton), Ski, SSARG, Historic England, YALHS, Roman Research Trust and the Somerset Archaeological Society. Ian Hodder, our digger driver from G. Crook, made the work possible, as did YHC and Wessex Water. We have undoubtedly missed someone off this list. If it’s you, then please accept our thanks and know that the omission is through forgetfulness rather than carelessness.

We do hope to return next year. Such a return largely depends on whether significant funding can be raised. Excavation is an expensive business and to run another season will cost somewhere in the region of £35K. If you, or your business / organisation are interested in supporting the project next year then please contact James G.

To end with a score card of the excavations:

Extra building phases found: 3

Roman coins  discovered by metal detector: 45

Roman coins discovered by eye: 5

Tessellated pavements found: 1

Roman hairpins: 1

Complete pots: 1

Visitors to site: 500+

TV appearances: 2

National Newspaper articles: 3

Rubbers / pencil erasers lost: 60

Custard creams consumed by Andy: 134,567

Trips to Asda: 34500

Meals ruined by Jeff: 1

Dig trousers worn by James G: 1

Trowels lost: 3

Pairs of steel toecapped boots ruined: 3

Times the hire company emptied the Portaloo: 2

Graduation!

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Congratulations to all the Lufton veterans who graduated on Monday.

James H, James St-A, Kimberley, Flora, Elliott, Hayley and Jess all did exceptionally well and have their eyes on the future.

Some of the team  are heading to jobs or postgraduate courses in archaeology, others are heading off in new directions. Except for Elliott and Hayley both of whom have four weeks digging in Somerset ahead of them!

Silver denarii found near Yeovil

A pretty exciting find of silver denarii has just been reported to have been discovered on a building site in Yeovil. We’re not sure where the find is, but the 3335 coins are reported by the Central Somerset Gazette to be of second or third century date. Therefore they probably pre-date the villa at Lufton. Nevertheless, they’re further evidence of Roman activity in this bit of southern Somerset.

In other news James and Andy are beginning to see the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. Perhaps we will be digging the villa this Summer… watch this space!

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

 

SOMERSET ARCHAEOLOGICAL & NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY

 The Archaeology Committee of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society 

present

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

 Programme:

 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 www.SANHS.org

email: programme@sanhs.org  or  Tel: 01823 272429.

 Ploughmans lunch available for £5.50 with advance booking only.

 

 

Week 2 – Friday!

We started today by visiting a large commercial excavation near Yeovil. The site is being excavated by Context One Archaeology and looks quite exciting.

Back at our site, we had a busy afternoon. In trench A Lucy and Pete found the edges of the SE feature, they began excavating and found lots of medieval pottery,bone and a ceramic small find.

In trench B, Kimberley and Ollie planned a context in the NE corner. Along with Jessie and James G, they also continued to excavate the feature.

Andy, Elliot, James and Chris continued to excavate in the south of trench B. Sue also cleaned the feature that she had been digging with Flora.

We want to say a special thank you to Ski who has provided us with some lovely Somerset cider.

Tuesday Wk 2

We started early today in the hope that we might avoid the worst of the heat. The plan sort of worked but it was 18 degrees at 8am and rose to about 26 degrees which was exhausting.

The day got off to an excellent start (!) with a portaloo fiasco. Apparently our toilet was positioned by the hire company in such a place that they can’t empty it. Here’s hoping they move it to a better spot soon.

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On a more positive note work progressed well in Trench B. Kimberley, Chris, Sue and James G finally resolved the deep slot they’ve been digging for the last few days. It proved to be a large ditch or holloway with a number of fills. The lowest fill, which was dark grey, produced a large fragment of animal bone and also a small, black soapy feeling sherd that might be pre-Norman…

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We also had a special visitor to site today: Woofton. Woofton is the dig mascot given by Min to her Daddy. Woofton had great fun playing on site and with the team.

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Elsewhere in Trench B pretty much the entire team continued to excavate a thick layer which is producing medieval pottery. In the hot dry conditions finds recovery was aided by Bill and James SA’s meticulous sieving. What’s under this layer remains something of a mystery that has Andy and James scratching their heads.

Over in Trench A Hayley and Flora spent the day excavating the stoney feature (almost certainly a recent field drain) and drawing sections.

Late in the day Bill did a run to the supermarket for some icecreams, which were desperately needed by the digging team. Food tonight was excellent fajitas served up in exemplary style by Lucy and Ollie.

 

Week 2

Week two began with us bailing and sponging the two trenches after rain over the weekend. We also took the opportunity to scrape back and photograph Trenches A and B.


In Trench A, Lucy and Hayley were joined by Mary and Sue who are members of SSARG.

Trench B was a hive of activity. Chris, Jessie, James G and Ollie continued to excavate the complex feature in the NW of trench B. This feature became even more complex when Chris and Ollie uncovered a ceramic field drain which appears to have been placed without a cut being visible in the trench section.


The rest of the team in Trench B cut another slot trying to clarify the stratigraphic sequence.

 

Meanwhile at camp, Bill was witnessed chasing a springer spaniel who had decided to liberate some bread rolls.
A special thanks to our neighbours, who have provided us with some homemade wine.

Sunday

Saturday night saw Elliot win the open mic competition in Odcombe! It was an excellent evening and Elliot won out against some talented competition.

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Sunday saw the team visit the Cerne Abbas giant, Lulworth Cove and Wareham where we enjoyed the Anglo-Saxon churches and defences. We also (coincidentally) ran into Bella and Fraser. Both are recent graduates from Newcastle and Fraser’s a veteran of the 2012 season.

Home now for a relaxing BBQ