It’s all in a name .. UPDATE

With some fresh eyes and a consensus of Mitchell ūüôā I found an Isaac Mitchell¬†on the 1841 and subsequent censuses¬†in Shapwick¬†(good work Carol you spotted him as well¬†)

Isaac (54 years old) is listed as a carpenter on all the census I looked at and on the 1851 one, which was clearer to read, he is married to a lady called Love (52 years old) and his son Dennis (23 years old) is also listed as a carpenter. It is interesting to see his mother-in-law,  called Hester Jefferies,  also lived with them  and is an amazing 95 years old!

Giving memories a voice

We can write down our memories for future generations to read, but we can also hear the past through sound recordings and videos.

Today Alex is visiting from The Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network (CITiZAN http://www.citizan.org.uk), an organization set up in response to dynamic threats to our island coastal heritage. It is a community archaeology project and actively promotes site recording and long-term monitoring programmes led by volunteers.

Alex will be soon leading a walk at Studland on the Dorset coast, looking at the WWII sites, and as well as research for the tour she hopes to play snippets from our sound archive of local people talking about what it was like, what they saw and stories of life in Studland during WWII.

Studland played an important part in WWII as a testing area for amphibius tanks and  fougasse (burning sea). In April 1944 Prime Minister Winston Churchill, King George VI and General Dwight D. Eisenhower (Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces and in charge of the military operation) met at Fort Henry on Redend Point at Studland to watch the combined power of the Allied Forces preparing for D-Day.

Alex l listening to the taped memories and working on her tour notes

Alex listening to the taped memories and working on her tour notes

 

The copies of the small sound archive we hold at the office are all still on original cassette tapes. For younger readers there is a picture below of what one is!

A cassette tape

A cassette tape

 

 

Alex has had to come and use our old technology to be able to then record a digitized copy for use in the field. We will need to digitize our archive so the recordings are more accessible. Luckily we have a cassette transcribing machine and a cassette player. The transcriber has extra controls so you can slow the tape down, change the tone and various backspace and counter options. It even has a foot pedal control!

Transcribing machine Р a special purpose machine which is used for voice recording processing, so the recording can be  written in hard copy form.

The Transcribing machine

The Transcribing machine

 

 

One day these machines will become part of the archaeological archives. At the moment they are thankfully still available and needed to play the memories from the past.

T. E Lawrence – rescue archaeologist

 

Clouds Hill near Wool, Dorset

Clouds Hill near Wool, Dorset

A few weeks ago I got chance to research and visit Clouds Hill, retreat of Thomas¬† Edward Lawrence, better known to us all as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’

As part of a week-long event to commemorate the death of Lawrence in a motorbike accident in 1935,  we were invited to provide an archaeology display. I knew he had worked in Syria but was not sure how he had developed this interest in archaeology.

Lawrence was born in Tremadoc in Wales in 1888 and by the age of four he was able to read and by six he was learning Latin.The family ended up in Oxford, were his interest in monuments and medieval history developed. At the age of 15, Lawrence and his school friend Cyril Beeson bicycled around Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, visiting many parish churches. They were interested in the buildings and the  monuments and made rubbings of the monumental brasses they found. The Ashmolean Museum have some of these rubbings and there are two in Clouds Hill.

Lawrence¬† and Cyril¬† Beeson became ‘rescue’ archaeologists when they started¬† monitoring building sites in Oxford, undertaking small excavations, recording chance finds and¬† then taking their finds to the Ashmolean Museum.The Ashmolean’s Annual Report for 1906 said the two teenage boys “by incessant watchfulness secured everything of antiquarian value which has been found”.¬† Lawrence and Beeson toured France by bicycle, in 1906/07 collecting photographs, drawings, and measurements of medieval castles, Lawrence then won a scholarship to Oxford University to study History.¬† After
gaining his degree in 1910 Lawrence joined an expedition led by D. G.
Howgarth, from the Ashmolean Museum, to Carchemish – Northern
Syria.

He also worked with Leonard Woolley, and in a letter to his brother said he would contact him about the site his brother was excavating, in the letter he tells his brother ‘Don’t give up at once¬† if you don’t find anything. Digging is an excellent exercise ‘

A bevy of Brough bikes

A bevy of Brough bikes

As part of the event a bevy of Brough bikes arrived, these are the motorbikes that Lawrence loved. He had a Brough superior, like the one pictured, sadly he was killed in 1935 whilst riding his beloved Brough.

A Brough Superior motorbike

A Brough Superior motorbike

Object of the month – free gift inside

As keeper of the objects we discover on our excavations I probably keep more than I should! But I see stories and links to past lives in everything and  if more recent objects can help take people back in time and start the journey to prehistory then they are as valuable as a Roman statue with an inscription!

I was sorting my boxes of odd and miscellaneous finds and came across this collection of childhood related plastic objects. Some I can remember and still have in my own tin box of things I have saved from childhood!

Plastic toys

Plastic toys

A few of the objects are probably free gifts from cereal packets and some are pocket-money toys. There was always a fear in my home of one of  us choking on a free gift in our cereal, but they were usually too big to be a hazard. If the box said free gift on the outside it was a race to get to it first (the hope was there were two inside) as the youngest I had to wait until the others were too old for free gifts!

A mysterious cereal packet gift

A mysterious cereal packet gift

Part one of the magic

Part one of the magic

The finished magic!

The finished magic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am not sure if there are these kinds of free gifts in cereal anymore, the little plastic toys and games have been taken over by chocolate eggs wrapped in orange and white and fast food chains. The main difference now is they will found in their millions, so archaeologists who save everything, like me, will have to find bigger boxes!

Bread and butter

A lot of work during these winter months is the behind the scenes, or beyond the trench jobs ūüôā We can finish the last of finds washing and marking, gather the specialist reports from excavations, receive paperwork and finds archives from contractors and prepare for publishing. Also as it’s the end of the financial year some projects are coming to fruition including some involving archaeological archives.

We have spent many days lately putting up shelving and moving hundreds of boxes of finds into newly renovated buildings and rooms.

New archive room at Lanhydrock

New archive room at Lanhydrock

At the Lanhydrock office a room had been racked out to create a central area for archaeological archives. Now we had room to open an old, dusty, unmarked box and have a look at what it held.

Box of finds fro cross Cornwall, found by the public, Rangers and property staff

Box of finds from across Cornwall, found by the public, Rangers and property staff

Among the bags of pottery, bone, stone and plaster we found some strange brown stuff stuck to open weave cloth.

Brown stuff found to be old latex

Brown stuff on open weave cloth

Textured side of the strange brown stuff

Textured side of the strange brown stuff

It was all cracked but had a textured side, very strange……. but luck was with us and we found a small note that explained what we were looking at!

The odd brown stuff is old latex!

It’s old latex!

I would never have guessed that the mystery substance was latex! It had been used to take an impression of the surface of pottery, with the hope that it would help with identifying the grass seeds and the type of  weave showing on the pottery surface.

Some of the pottery with impressions of cloth or basket work

Some of the pottery with impressions of cloth or basket work

 

The next archive project involved building work on an important building so we could create a store and resource space for our finds from the Kingston Lacy Bankes estate. The WWII American Army hospital, 10 bed isolation ward, needed a new roof and its concrete cancer treating, it also needed a use and as we had already been using it to work on and store our archaeological collections it seemed logical to extend this use.

The old hospital building with its new roof

The old hospital building with its new roof

After emptying out everything into large ocean-going containers the work was done over the autumn and winter. Finally after a lick of paint it was time to put everything back so with help from two house removal experts we moved 350 boxes and many other oddments back into the fresh bright well racked room. This now allows good access for researchers to study the finds from all ages of sites from across the estate.
The finds boxes back on the shelving all sorted and assecable The last big move was the Crickley Hill collection from excavations that ran from 1969 until 1993. The contract for re boxing and creating an archive  copy of the Crickley photographic collection was under taken by  Cotswold Archaeology, and the store at our Sherborne Estate office was to be its final destination.

Sherborne store ready for the Crickley finds

Sherborne store ready for the Crickley finds

after the delivery of the finds

 

 

 

The environmental sample tubs

Last week the day came to move it all back into the store, a total of 244 finds boxes and 90 environmental sample tubs.

 

 

 

 

The guys from Cotswold Archaeology turned up in their white vans and we spent a few hours off loading everything onto the new shiny racking.

Tom, Fran, Emily and Claire from Cotswold Archaeology

Phew! three down two to go! the next archive stores waiting for an update are Purbeck and Lacock but they can wait until my back has had a good rest and a few chiropractic sessions ūüôā

Marvel at the marble

Just before Christmas I headed to Oxford to meet with Emma Durham, who is working on the Chedworth antiquarian collections, and we then headed to the Ashmolean Museum to meet marble expert Susan Walker, Keeper of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

We both had finds bags with various pieces of marble from past and recent excavations at Chedworth Roman Villa. The piece I had was the one found in August 2014 (see post Day 12 – last discoveries and careful covering). Emma had a few pieces from the original excavations in the 1860s.

We met Susan and were led through a maze of stairs and corridors to her book-filled office, she cleared a space on the table and we handed over our treasures. We opened our notebooks and waited, pens at the ready. Susan looked at each piece of marble in turn and made a few interesting opening comments. Three pieces that looked slightly different in surface colour turned out to fit together into a larger piece, others were different in thickness and marble type. After a few questions about the site and finding of the pieces, Susan started to tell us the story she saw in the marble.

All the marble looked to be East Mediterranean, and most pieces seem to be wall veneers, but are quite thick, which may indicate use in a bath house or water feature. Some of the marble looks to be  from Paros, which was favoured for water features. I think the pattern in the marble added to the effect, when under water, of movement.

While drawing the plan of the site we found a mottled stone which on closer inspection turned out to be a piece of marble. An exotic material brought to the villa to decorate an architectural feature or perhaps part of a panel on a piece of furniture.

While drawing the plan of the site we found a mottled stone which on closer inspection turned out to be a piece of marble. An exotic material brought to the villa to decorate an architectural feature or perhaps part of a panel on a piece of furniture.

Susan identified one piece that was worked along the edge, part of a basin, tank, vessel or sink, and most likely came from Proconnesus in the Sea of Marmara. She was amazed this got all the way to Chedworth. She explained that the marble was probably all 2nd/3rd century (Severan) due to the type of marble that was quarried then. At that time the set up with marble was that the Emperor had first call on any marble and only small amounts were then available to others, some of which would be exported to Britain and come in via London. It seems that, to be able to acquire this kind of marble, the person who owned Chedworth Villa had a very high status.

The questions this raises are to do with the dates. Was the marble used in the earlier villa on the site (2nd century) or was it reused marble acquired for the later villa (4th century) from somewhere else? Have there been other finds of these marble types in the area, in Cirencester for example, and how much has been found in the country as a whole? Once again more questions than answers, so onward we go with more research and potentially more exciting discoveries.

Emma and I left the museum with big grins on our faces. It had been a very exciting encounter, thank you Susan for bringing this stone to life, and I hope I have interpreted my scribbled notes right!

Oh, and I must not forget the piece we dug up this year; it’s called Cipollino, little onion marble, probably from the Greek island of Euboea.

A close up of 'Little Onion' the marble found during the 2014 excavations

A close up of ‘Little Onion’ the marble found during the 2014 excavations

 

 

Day one – Sunshine and rain

The volunteers gathered, the turf was dug and the crowd parted for the concrete breaker to be wheeled onto site.

Martin tackles the pink concrete

Martin tackles the pink concrete

Day one, usually one of opening up the site  down to the recent layers produced a few surprises!  Mosaic popped out just under the turf!   

 

First area of mosaic just under the turf

First area of mosaic just under the turf

 

The turf came up and low a mosaic!

The turf came up and low a mosaic!

¬†We are excavating an area dug in the 1950s and 1960s by Prof. Ian Richmond (¬†the concrete was put down in 1963) ¬†and no where in the archive we have found for this part of the site is mosaic mentioned! So it’s very exciting as we probably have new mosaics to uncover.¬†

Very interesting 1960s concrete in two colours

Very interesting 1960s concrete in two colours

¬†Between the sun and the showers we found time to celebrate Kate’s birthday with candles and cake, most welcome after concrete bashing ūüôā¬†

Happy Birthday Kate :-)

Happy Birthday Kate ūüôā