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.


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


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


Hadrian’s Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier

The Archaeology Team at Newcastle University are pleased to announce that our new, online course about Hadrian’s Wall is now accepting registrations of interest.

The course is FREE, requires no previous experience or knowledge and begins in September.

Further details can be found by following this weblink.

Hadrian’s Wall is a long way from Lufton but it’s a reminder that Britannia was a frontier province.

This year’s excavations

This year’s excavations will take place between 12th July and the 2nd August.

We’ll be investigating a deserted medieval settlement that was probably known as ‘Barrow’. The settlement has been badly damaged by ploughing and we hope to determine whether any archaeology survives.

We’re really looking forward to being back in Somerset and working with SSARG and the local community. Keep posted for more updates about the project.


2014 – update

It’s been a while since we’ve posted anything substantial. Fear not, despite the lack of posts lots of things have been happening behind the scenes.

We’re pleased to say that a piece of research on the project’s geophysical survey has just been submitted for publication in a major archaeology journal. This  has taken a lot of work by a number of people and we really hope that the journal will accept the article. Fingers crossed…

We also have a Newcastle Undergraduate team together for this season’s excavations at Barrow. Lucy will be returning and will be joined by Bill, Ollie, Kimberley, Jess, Chris, Hayley, Flora, Elliott and James. Andy will be returning as site supervisor and James G will be project directing.

Many logistical things happening and more details to follow…



All quiet?

Things have been relatively quiet up here in Newcastle. The site archive is currently sat in James’ office and he’s hoping to find some time to start writing the assessment report for last summer’s excavations.

We hope that our friends in SSARG and GeoFlo will soon be carrying out a small survey on the ploughed out deserted medieval settlement of Barrow.

James also recently found this interesting write up about some recent archaeological work at Montacute. Working in Lufton we’re always conscious of the ancient power centres around us – in the Iron Age Ham Hill and South Cadbury; in the Roman period Ilchester, and in the Middle Ages Ilchester, Yeovil and Montacute.

The twelfth-century Waltham Chronicle describes how a Dane called Tovi apparently dug a stone crucifix up on top of Montacute in 1030. This cross was given to Waltham Abbey where it survived until the Dissolution of the monasteries in the sixteenth century.

The Bayeux Tapestry showing William (centre) and his brothers Odo (left) and Robert (right)

Following the Norman Conquest Robert the Count of Mortain (William the Conqueror’s half brother) acquired Montacute and constructed a Motte-and-Bailey castle atop the ‘Steep HIll’ (Mons Acutus). The castle was besieged by the men on Somerset in 1068 but their attack was defeated by the Normans. In 1102 the lands were given to the Cluniacs who founded Montacute Priory.

What did the people of Lufton and Barrow think of these events?

An aerial photo from the 1940s showing the earthworks of the motte-and-bailey on Montacute. Today this site is largely hidden by tree cover.

The Ruin of Roman Britain

James is pleased to announce that his new book – The Ruin of Roman Britain – has been published by the Cambridge University Press.

The Lufton Villa gets a couple of mentions!

The Ruin of Roman Britain
How did Roman Britain end? This new study draws on fresh archaeological discoveries to argue that the end of Roman Britain was not the product of either a violent cataclysm or an economic collapse. Instead, the structure of late antique society, based on the civilian ideology of paideia, was forced to change by the disappearance of the Roman state. By the fifth century elite power had shifted to the warband and the edges of their swords. In this book Dr Gerrard describes and explains that process of transformation and explores the role of the ‘Anglo-Saxons’ in this time of change. This profound ideological shift returned Britain to a series of ‘small worlds’, the existence of which had been hidden by the globalizing structures of Roman imperialism. Highly illustrated, the book includes two appendices, which detail Roman cemetery sites and weapon trauma, and pottery assemblages from the period.

Next Year…?

We’ve only just returned from Somerset but James is already beginning to think about next Summer.

A few hundred meters south west of where we were digging this year lies a large arable field that until the 1970s contained the earthworks of a deserted medieval settlement that may have been called ‘Barrow’. Unfortunately the earthworks were bulldozed and nothing of this little settlement is now visible,

When the earthworks were destroyed local archaeologists collected a small quantity of medieval pottery. This include some 10-11 century AD sherds.  We hope to investigate this field with geophysics over the winter and perhaps carry out some excavation there next year.

Investigating ‘Barrow’ would tell us a lot about how well the archaeological remains of the settlement survive. It might also give us the opportunity to explore the earlier, pre-Norman, phases of activity. The origins of medieval settlements and their relationship with the preceding Roman landscape are important issues and Barrow may offer us an opportunity to address these questions.


Sad News

Prof Mick Aston of Time Team fame sadly passed away yesterday. Mick had a long-standing interest in the Lufton area from his time working in Somerset. He was extremely supportive of the current project and some of the geophysical survey has been funded by the Aston Fund of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society.

The project sends its condolences and best wishes to Mick’s family, friends and colleagues. He will be missed.