Remote Sensing in Corfe’s West Bailey

Thomas Bond of Tynham first dug in the West Bailey. Writing in 1883 he said “Some diggings which, by kind permission of the owner, W.R.Bankes Esq. I have recently made within the castle, have brought to light some curious facts, which afford much food for conjecture.” Next to investigate the area were scholars of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments in 1949-52.

One of the 11th century windows in the West Bailey later blocked by the construction of 13th century curtain wall in King John's reign.

One of the 11th century windows in the West Bailey later blocked by the construction of 13th century curtain wall in King John’s reign.

This year we are reopening one of their trenches and seeing whether the wall that was found over 60 years ago continues north to join the curtain wall. If foundations exist, the footings may be able to act as a foundation for a revetment wall which will even up the slope and limit further erosion

The last few lines of the resistivity survey at the west end of the West Bailey

The last few lines of the resistivity survey at the west end of the West Bailey

The plan of the West Bailey. The area of the geophysical survey today. The site of tomorrow's excavation is at the top of the long black wall pointing to the top of the page. Did it once continue right across the West Bailey.

The plan of the West Bailey. The area of the geophysical survey today. The site of tomorrow’s excavation is at the top of the long black wall pointing to the top of the page. Did it once continue right across the West Bailey.


Our first task was to try to detect the buried walls using geophysics. Both resistivity and magnetometry were used. It’s not a big area.. about 60m long and narrowing from 20m at the east end to less than 10m in the west.

A hot sunny day as we pushed our wheelbarrow loaded with gear up through the potters and weavers of the craftsmen village in the Outer Bailey ..up through the South West Gatehouse and into the West Bailey.

A busy day with lots of interested people from Europe and USA mixed with the Brits asking us about the survey and the Castle’s history. Quite a few student groups led by their guides. We wove backwards and forwards with our machines making the survey but we completed it in good time. We will mark out the trenches tomorrow.

All packed up and the tents are down

Phew! the grand tour that was the Festival of British Archaeology is over for another year, lots of budding archaeologists with new facts, ideas and plans to dig up their gardens!

I cannot thank all our wonderful volunteers and volunteer archaeology groups enough, without their enthusiasm and energy it would not have been the great success it was. Here are a few pictures to show what we all got up to around the South West, starting at the Wiltshire History Center, then Chedworth, Godolphin, Kingston Lacy, Corfe Castle and A la Ronde.

Close inspection of the environmental sort trays

Close inspection of the environmental sort trays

Mosaics at Chedworth

Mosaics at Chedworth

The Ancient Wessex Network guys melting bronze for casting

The Ancient Wessex Network guys melting bronze for casting

The fire burns to bright!

The fire burns too bright!

Weaving a wrist band, a very popular activity with girls and boys alike

Weaving a wrist band, a very popular activity with girls and boys alike

The finished wrist band

The finished wrist band

Gordon the Victorian scientist

Gordon the Victorian scientist

Dave the Blacksmith

Dave the Blacksmith

Rory the Barber surgeon and his leeches!

Rory the Barber surgeon and his leeches!

'Use the tweezers' good job we have wet wipes!

‘Use the tweezers’ good job we have wet wipes!

An extra visitor at the Godolphin event, a Golden-ringed dragonfly

An extra visitor at the Godolphin event, a Golden-ringed dragonfly

Cream tea for the workers at the end of the event

Cream tea for the workers at the end of the event

The penultimate day’s digging

The dig site at Godolphin was a hive of activity today, as the archaeologists began a final clean of all the trenches, before beginning to draw (cross)sections and use surveying equipment to record the trenches and finds.

More of the medieval road was revealed today…

The road is revealed.

The road is revealed.

…and a section was cut further in to it, to test the depth of the road.

Testing the depth of the road.

Testing the depth of the road.

Both trenches D and F look great after a final clean today. Trench D shows the full extent of the remains of the Cider House pottery kiln, while trench F contains the remains of the Cider House ramp.

Volunteer Barbara does a final clean of the ramp in trench F.

Volunteer Barbara does a final clean of the ramp in trench F.

 

The kiln volunteers do a final clean up too.

The kiln volunteers do a final clean up too.

To save the best until last, today trench D provided us with a wealth of Peter Schofield/Mike Dodd pottery. Some pieces are almost entirely intact, with only minor chips, while others are unfortunately more broken. This was such an exciting find for us today, as the volume of pottery means that we can use some objects as part of our handling collection, to help us tell the story of Godolphin and the families that lived here. What a great find, well done Alex!

Alex finds a significant dump of pottery.

Alex finds a significant dump of pottery.

Ready, steady, dig!

It’s been a very productive day on site, with both the archaeological dig and our family activities… so apologies for the very late post (a couple of hours later and it would be tomorrow!).

Cathy has sadly decided to leave the dig, as she will be returning to Canada. It’s been great working with her here at Godolphin, and we thank her for all her interesting finds- some of which are still a mystery!

The newly opened trench F is beginning to reveal the original Cider House ramp, as well as some other hard standing which would have been created to stop the carts sinking in to the softer ground of the orchard. We will be extending this trench further, in the hope of picking up some of the footprint of the original building (which we did not find in trench C at the rear of the building).

Beginning to reveal the Cider House ramp in trench F

Beginning to reveal the Cider House ramp in trench F

Trench A has been cleared, ready to draw the (cross)section tomorrow, and the bank also appears to seal a late medieval soil.

Volunteers disappear in to trench A!

Volunteers disappear in to trench A!

The late medieval layer seen in trench B.

The late medieval layer seen in trench B.

In trench E the digging continues, to search for evidence of the possible medieval Trescowe-Breage road.

The pottery in trench D has produced a Mike Dodd/Peter Schofield egg cup on the site of what we now know to be the Japanese climbing kiln.This was inspired by Bernard Leach’s 1920 Shoji Hamada kiln.

You may be wondering what the title of this post has to do with any of today’s news. Well, in trench D, the competitiveness has kicked in for the kiln digging race…

Timing the kiln digging race.

Timing the kiln digging race.

… or is one of our volunteers waiting for the next tea break?!

Potty about pottery!

It’s been another great day at Godolphin, and our luck with finding pottery hasn’t run out! It has been made apparent, through research evidenced by finds over the last two days, that there was a small make-shift pottery adjacent to the Cider House, before the Cider House Pottery itself. The young Peter Schofield, who grew up at Godolphin, decided to create his own pottery in the grounds. Accompanied by his friend, the potter Mike Dodd, they began to work on this project in the 1960s. Today the floor of this pottery was uncovered, complete with handmade bricks and pieces of broken pot.

Two volunteers uncover the floor of the pottery in trench D.

Two volunteers uncover the floor of the pottery in trench D.

Research tells us, that this became redundant after the Cider House Pottery was used in the 1970s. Bernard Leach, a close friend of Peter Schofield’s mother Mary (who was the sister to renowned St Ives artist Peter Lanyon) assisted the young potters in creating a working pottery, thus leaving their little pottery to the side unused.

We are very pleased to have uncovered the floor to pottery, and in turn discovered a little more about the story of pottery here at Godolphin. Let’s hope the other trenches become this successful too!

Sieving for finds in trench A

Sieving for finds in trench A

The sieving continued in trench A today, and the trench itself is becoming much deeper. We are hoping to cut further in to provide a cross-section of the soil. This could potentially help us with the dating of objects, and help us to understand the movement of the soil around the orchard area. In turn this will then give us clues to the agricultural activity around the estate, as this is often the cause of disturbed soil.

Sadly, the trench directly behind the Cider House has not provided us with many finds, and we may need to stop working on it soon. We had hoped to find a clue to a possible building previously situated on the site of the Cider House, but unfortunately the trench has not supported this theory. The shallow trench and number of tree roots also mean that excavation is very difficult here.

On a more positive note, we will begin extending trench D (the old pottery) tomorrow, and also hope to open a new trench at the top of the orchard. Today we welcomed St Uny School to Godolphin, as part of their ‘Treasure’ project. All the staff and students had a fantastic day, and even brought some of their own finds for our archaeologists to identify, including an interesting little Victorian medicine bottle. We look forward to welcoming them to Godolphin again soon.

Festival time

Its July so it must be time for the Festival of British Archaeology! Organised  by the Council for British Archaeology and the Young archaeologist club  over the last twenty-three years, it has grown from one day in September to  three weekends and two weeks in July! http://www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk/

Environmental Sort trays a very popular activity

Environmental Sort trays a very popular activity

Lots of National Trust sites are taking part, with family activities, excavations and walks. In the South West as a taster we have two days at Kingston Lacy including some ‘geophiz’, activities over the two weeks at Chedworth Villa including finds drawing, and at Corfe Castle an archaeology trail and  members of the Ancient Wessex group, pot making and metal casting http://www.ancientwessex.net/page/home

Bill Crumblehome  making a bronze age pot

Bill Crumblehome making a bronze age pot

At Godolphin we have two weeks of  excavation starting this weekend, they will be putting trenches in and around the Cider House, you can have a go at washing the finds straight from the dig and see the story unfold each day. The property staff and contract community archaeologist will be blogging here every day from the dig.

The cider house under wraps! and a mystery bank on the right.

The cider house under wraps! and a mystery bank on the right.

 

So check what’s happening near you, be inspired, have fun, and touch the past 🙂

Edible Archaeology

As Red Nose Day approaches and some of us will be baking cakes to raise funds, I thought I would give you some inspiration 🙂 When our head of archaeology retired last September we had two cakes at the party.

The first one was a detail from the dinning room mosaic at Chedworth Roman Villa, complete with red flue tiles in the wall!

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The second one was an excavation, with great details including stratigraphy showing different soils and layers, a dumpy level to take hight measurements, tool box and someone digging 🙂

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One, two, three  BAKE!