Finding Killerton’s 1776 House 2

To make sense of this you will need to read the first post which describes how a grand 18th century house designed by a famous architect was never completed. This is on the Killerton Estate near Exeter, Devon where the mansion house is…well.. it’s a little disappointing.

The many thousands of acres both at Killerton and on the Holnicote Estate in west Somerset were given to the National Trust in the 1940s by the Acland family.

It’s been 18 months since the first discoveries and things have moved on.

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Killerton House with its roof covered in scaffolding. There is limited access for visitors while the repairs are taking place. The roof archaeology is being recorded and fragments of 19th-century wall paper and early 20th century photos of the Acland family have been found amongst the rafters. 

The present Killerton House is having its roof repaired and the 1776 house has been cleared of undergrowth.

We wondered whether the LiDAR survey had see the cellars of the abandoned house under the trees of Columbjohn wood. Now that we can see ground beneath the vegetation there are heaps of bricks everywhere.

The workers charged with salvaging the building materials had left the broken bricks behind.

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The scrub has been cleared in what we think was the main cellar of the 1776 house and the remains of its demolition and salvage have been found:  lots of broken bricks scattered in piles in the hollow.

Project manager Fi has co-ordinated a series of events which will enable visitors to explore Killerton’s historic landscape. This will happen during the CBA Archaeology Festival later this month. A team of National Trust Heritage Archaeology Rangers have been trained and Bryn from South West Archaeology is supervising the investigation of the lost house of Killerton .

A couple of weeks ago they mapped the earthworks and these fit with the architect’s plans for great house. At the end of July, they will dig some evaluation trenches to ‘ground-truth’ the remains.

Visitors will be very welcome and the mock-up of an 18th century doorway has been erected amongst trees as an entrance to the excavations.

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The newly erected doorway based on the original architect’s drawings of the house that never was. Visit and pass through the doorway to see the excavations in a couple of weeks….

I will spend a couple of days at the folly on the hill-top working out what remains of the ‘white tower’. This folly is shown on an 18th century painting . At this stage we don’t understand quite what the building looked like. It had been demolished long before any photos had been taken.

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The new National Trust HART ranger team for Killerton. Practicing making condition monitoring records of the 18th-century folly site on the conical hill top across the valley from Wyatt’s lost house. We will take off the turf on July 27th and see what lies beneath.

Celebrating National Volunteers Week

A happy Rob with his pot

Rob our longest  serving volunteer – 30 years!

We are lucky to have such wonderful volunteers to work with,  as a charity we are able to offer opportunities for all ages to get experience of all aspects of archaeology and heritage. Whether you want to do something you have always dreamed of doing, or want experience before deciding it’s what you want to do at University or as a career we will try and find a place for you.

Here are some of our archaeology  ‘gang’ of all ages and abilities. To all our volunteers we would just like to say a big ‘THANK YOU’  for all your  hard work, patience and cakes 🙂  

It’s an impossible task to include all our lovely volunteers so here is just a taste of what they get up to…

Fay and Kate take a well earned break

Fay and Kate take a well-earned break from digging

Ray barrow man

Ray barrow man

Honey with her flint from the Bronze Age burial mound

Honey with her flint from the Bronze Age burial mound

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meg doing an important job - updating the Historic buildings, sites and monuments record database

Meg doing an important job – updating the Historic buildings, sites and monuments record database

 

Thank you for all the miles walked doing geophysical surveys

Thank you for all the miles walked doing geophysical surveys

 

 

Ben and his brother Sean, a few years ago and still volunteering with us, event activities specialists

Ben and his brother Sean, a few years ago and still volunteering with us, event activities specialists

Jeremy our best pot marker and master weaver

Jeremy our best pot marker and master weaver

Vera top of the pot washers

Vera top of the pot washers

 

 

Thank you for braving the weather

Thank you for braving the weather

Nick models what all best dressed archaeologist are wearing this season

Nick thanks for all the fun

Thanks for all the smiles Aparna

Thanks for all the smiles Aparna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t  forget the cake !

Thanks Masie

Thanks Masie

‘For ever for everyone’

 

 

West Bailey, Corfe, Day 5 The Burial Ground

The view south across the finished  trenches and the West Bailey high above the Purbeck countryside

The view south across the finished trenches and the West Bailey high above the Purbeck countryside


A day to take photographs, make scale drawings and polish the archaeological record. This will be the residue of our days once the trenches ..and eventually we are gone.
Drawing the revealed part of the buried north wall.  Once, it is thought, the 13th century constable's house. Someone like Richard de Bosco  who made sure the Castle was at the cutting edge of military design for his master Edward I.

Drawing the revealed part of the buried north wall.
Once, it is thought, the 13th century constable’s house. Someone like Richard de Bosco who made sure the Castle was at the cutting edge of military design for his master Edward I.

What of past digs? Thomas Bond in the 1880s left his book on Corfe Castle and a few photographs.. and the RCHM scholars published their article in Medieval Archaeology and created their wonderful Dorset volumes. Volume II pt.1 has their account of Corfe Castle.. still the best .. though we have added something new this week.

But Corfe’s RCHM men were mainly experts in medieval history and architecture. There was so much to say about medieval royal Corfe that Corfe the post-medieval new money mansion got a bit neglected. Queen Elizabeth I flogged it in 1572 and from the Hatton family is passed to the Bankes. Sir John and Dame Mary garrisoned the Castle in support of Charles I, and, following its capture in 1646, Parliament insisted on blowing it to bits. It’s this late Tudor, early Stuart and Civil War knowledge of Corfe that the National Trust’s research over the years has built up. It’s great that Ralph Treswell created his plan of the Castle in 1586 but as we found out this week Sir John Bankes paid for a lot more work on his prestigious new home before its destruction.

One of the lumps of animal bone mixed in the limestone debris on the east side of the 17th century wall.

One of the lumps of animal bone mixed in the limestone debris on the east side of the 17th century wall.

Carol and Kate spent the last hours digging down on either side of our narrow wall in trench B while the well-cut masonry of the ‘Constable’s House’ was being measured and drawn in trench A.

We have some good information on some of the constables. My favourite is Richard de Bosco who served Edward I in the 1280s-90s. His name shines out as the Castle’s Project Director in the parchment account rolls which survive in the National Archives, London. He made sure that what was required got done. If you know medieval latin and can decipher the handwriting and abbreviations (I can’t but we found someone who could).. they’re a great read (well, if you’re into that sort of stuff). Month by month they detail the repairs to the Castle, naming nearly everyone involved and how much they got paid. Some good touches too.. like the candles bought to enable the craftsmen to work at night “in preparation for our Lord King’s arrival”.

Not a royal wall but a revetment wall. This the rough east side was not meant to be seen built up against a pile of limestone debris.

Not a royal wall but a revetment wall. This the rough east side was not meant to be seen built up against a pile of limestone debris.

In the 1630s, the Bankes family called on local builders who did a good job but the wall in trench B was very different to that in A. It only had a good finished face on the west side. Carol uncovered only a rough rubble surface on the east which was clearly not meant to be seen. It was a revetment wall, built to shore up a slope made of limestone gravel and rubble containing animal bones and the odd fragment of medieval pot.

The west side of the 17th century wall. Well built and pointed with orange brown mortar.  The sand and rubble peeled off onto a level gravel floor. Pottery dated this floor to the 17th century.

The west side of the 17th century wall. Well built and pointed with orange brown mortar. The sand and rubble peeled off onto a level gravel floor. Pottery dated this floor to the 17th century.

The west face was nicely finished and pointed with an orange mortar. It appeared as good as new, presumably because it had been covered by debris for over 350 years. It was probably less than a decade old before Captain Hughes and his Parliamentarian soldiers did their work. At the lowest level, were a few fragments of green and yellow glazed earthenware typical of the 17th century, just above a limestone gravel floor.

What was this lower west end of the West Bailey used for? The RCHM men give us an idea in their report, though not enough information..”of the later history of the site we have little knowledge except that.. at some date after 1600 the area west of the cross-wall was used as a burial-ground. The most likely period for this later development would be that of the blockade of the castle in the years 1643-6, when the use of the parish church-yard might well have been denied the garrison over long periods”. Sadly no explanation.. how many bodies were found and when? Where are they now? Perhaps a trip to the English Heritage National Monuments Record in Swindon to see if there are extra records there. No grave-like features appeared on the geophys.

What do we take away from this? Well, the obvious..that there is much that we still do not know about this place and particularly its use for the 60 years after Treswell. Our resistivity survey picked up traces of the ‘Constable’s House’ north wall and also the 17th century revetment wall in trench B. We found the very edge of another wall abutting its west side at 45% and the geophysics picked up its continuation south-west, parallel with another feature 6m further south.

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On their fold-out map at the back of Dorset II pt.1, the RCHM show a continuous cross-wall (Ben’s Shweppes bottle suggests some unrecorded digging along there) but we found that it was not continuous and not of the same period, but two walls following a similar line but built 300-400 years apart.

We also found that the erosion along the steep slope, from the east to the west sides of the cross-wall, was not causing any damage to the archaeology. National Trust staff have put a geo-textile barrier across the area overlain with clay .. and although the gradient is never likely to look pristine, it can be topped up with soil from time to time.

Someone said this week. ‘I came here as a child and today I’ve come back with my children, it’s so good, it feels just the same.’ Corfe Castle,..Dorset Scheduled Ancient Monument No 1, will always need funding, monitoring, maintenance and conservation repair to enable it to be enjoyed long into the future.

Carol found a shiney new 5p piece dated 2014 and we put it under a stone placed on the quoin of the ‘Constable’s House’. Then the trenches were refilled and we pushed the wheelbarrows back down the hill.

Trenches gone.

Trenches gone.

So that’s it. Many thanks to everyone for their help and support. Those who dug and encouraged and particularly the staff of the NT Corfe Tea Rooms.

West Bailey Corfe Day 4 Into the Garden

We had to cope without Ray, our front of house manager. Although irreplaceable, we did our best by rapidly annotating our illustrations with marker pen. Still very hot but a bit of a breeze so carefully placed Purbeck limestone rocks to hold the interpretation in place.

The annotated maps on the information table.

The annotated maps on the information table.

It was time to leave the ‘Constable’s House’ West Bailey and climb the stone steps through the gateway into the King’s domain in the Inner Ward. Treswell’s plan of 1586 shows a garden above the well in the north-east corner of this top and most prestigious area of the Castle. The feet of many thousands of visitors have revealed a wall forming the edge of the garden but it post-dates Treswell.

Ralph Treswell's Inner Ward plan of Corfe of 1586. The eroding wall is above the well (top right).  It is not on the plan so perhaps it was built for Lady Elizabeth Hatton or for Dame Mary Bankes.

Ralph Treswell’s Inner Ward plan of Corfe of 1586. The eroding wall is above the well (top right). It is not on the plan so perhaps it was built for Lady Elizabeth Hatton or for Dame Mary Bankes.

Today it was photographed and drawn to scale and Andy will protect it under a geo-textile and clay capping. This will stop the garden structure being worn away. We don’t know very much about the garden but it was probably managed and enjoyed by Lady Elizabeth Hatton who owned the castle from the end of the 16th century or Dame Mary Bankes wife of Sir John Bankes who bought the Castle in the 1630s.

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The 17th century wall in trench B was cleaned and the ground lowered on either side of it. In trench A Carol and Kate uncovered the buried wall face of the 13th century building thought to be the enlarged hall of the Castle’s Constable. When in residence he would have managed Corfe and the Forest of Purbeck for the King.

Carol and Kate have uncovered  the face of the 13th century return wall of the 'Constable's House'. In the foreground the smaller 17th century wall.. after a brush down.

Carol and Kate have uncovered the face of the 13th century return wall of the ‘Constable’s House’. In the foreground the smaller 17th century wall.. after a brush down.

At the end of the day Carol found a ring.. I wonder who it belonged to.

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Last day tomorrow..

West Bailey, Corfe Day 3 Both Sides Now

Ben returned to his trench today. He had researched on line and the bottle was typical of a Ginger Beer bottle manufactured by Schweppes in the 1930s.

Some of the older finds from the soil over the wall in trench B. Fragments of ox and sheep bones and more slender bones perhaps hare, rabbit or birds. The meds ate all sorts of birds which we don't bother eating today. In the tray there is also a black medieval cooking pot fragment and a green glazed medieval jug fragment.

Some of the older finds from the soil over the wall in trench B. Fragments of ox and sheep bones and more slender bones perhaps hare, rabbit or birds. The meds ate all sorts of birds which we don’t bother eating today. Black medieval cooking pot fragment and a green glazed medieval jug fragment.

He pressed on with uncovering the wall and soon the silver paper and bottle tops disappeared and a new layer was reached containing fragments of coal and lengths of tobacco pipe stem. When this was removed both sides of the wall could be seen. The east face was exactly in line with the medieval wall in trench A but that wall is over a metre wide. The wall in B is only 0.68m and not so well made. A void in the middle might have been for a post.

Trench B the wall now clearly visible but it is narrower and less well built than the wall in A. There is part of another wall on the right hand side of the picture meeting the main wall at an angle from beyond the trench.

Trench B the wall now clearly visible but it is narrower and less well built than the wall in A. There is part of another wall on the right hand side of the picture meeting the main wall at an angle from beyond the trench.

This wall is not shown on our only detailed plan of the castle.. pre Civil Ware demolition. It was surveyed in 1586 by Ralph Treswell. Perhaps this is evidence of a building constructed at some time in the 60 years after Treswell. Ben hit a orange brown soily layer mixed with a few fragments of stone. This looked like an earth floor layer and contained a small fragment of earthenware with a wet looking green glaze. This very shiny type of glaze is often found on 17th century pots so this might be a Civil War layer. We will see tomorrow.

This is the West Bailey part of Ralph Treswell's map of 1586. The wall we are interested in is the central one pointing north, the one to the left of the South Tower. The wall in trench B is not there..

This is the West Bailey part of Ralph Treswell’s map of 1586. The wall we are interested in is the central one pointing north, the one to the left of the South Tower. The wall in trench B is not there..

In trench A the wall is buried deeply below rubble we worked hard but it was a very hot day.

Trench A, footings of the wall discovered in 1952 seem deeply buried.

Trench A, footings of the wall discovered in 1952 seem deeply buried.

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West Bailey Corfe Day 2 Ben’s Bottle

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Today, Andy brought up the gazebo, bollards and information sign and we broke open the string and 6 inch nails and marked out the two trenches.

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Dry and hot and the ground was hard but Ray soon had a crowd round the information table and Nancy’s National Trust archaeology badges were flying off the shelf. Ben asked if he could help and spent the day with us.

Trenches A and B hoping to pick up the line of the wall.

Trenches A and B hoping to pick up the line of the wall.

We came down onto a limestone rubble layer beneath the topsoil and were excited to find medieval pot fragments but they were mixed with silver paper, bottle tops, a sticking plaster (yuk) and then Ben found a rounded brown shape amongst the stones. It came out whole. There in his hands was a c.1950s SCHWEPPES bottle. Probably one of the 1952 RCHM diggers who had a lemonade and chucked it in the spoil heap as the trench was backfilled. Ben’s dad brought us drinks which were greatly appreciated.

Ben's 62 year old Schweppes bottle.

Ben’s 62 year old Schweppes bottle.

At the end of the day we hit a solid stone and then two more and it seems that we have found the top of the wall we were looking for. We’ll find out tomorrow..

A line of stones in the trench nearest to the camera. It is in line with the 13th century wall so perhaps we have found what we're looking for.

A line of stones in the trench nearest to the camera. It is in line with the 13th century wall so perhaps we have found what we’re looking for.

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.