Posted by: archaccess | September 16, 2014

Continuation of SVCA’s Inaugural Excavation at Goldingham Hall

Continuation of SVCA's Inaugural Excavation at Goldingham HallMembers of the recently formed Stour Valley Community Archaeology (SVCA) continued their archaeological investigation of Goldingham Hall with supervision from ACA last week.

SVCA organised and ran their first archaeological excavations at Goldingham Hall, near Bulmer in Suffolk, at the end of May, continuing the excavation of three trenches (A-C) opened the previous October. The aim of their three day dig this September was to open another two trenches (D and E), close to those already dug, in order to shed further light on the posthole and ditch features identified by the landowner, Ashley Cooper, seventeen years ago and confirmed by a geophysical survey conducted by David and Aline Black in 2013. Goldingham Hall is documented in the Domesday Book as the site of a medieval manor and the programme of community excavations so far have revealed a range of features dating from the 10th to the later 14th century AD relating to a late Anglo-Saxon early Norman manorial complex.

As part of the Heritage Lottery Funded Managing a Masterpiece project, Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA) ran two fieldwalking events, over two days, at the start of November 2012 at Goldingham Hall. ACA subsequently ran the first community excavations on the same field site last October, which was the final event of Managing a Masterpiece. Inspired by their participation in these activities and others run by ACA along the Stour Valley over the three and a half years of the landscape partnership project, a group of committed volunteers formed a new community archaeology society to continue providing fieldwork opportunities in the area, beginning at Goldingham Hall under the patronage of Ashley Cooper and Dr Carenza Lewis, Director of ACA.

Cat Ranson, ACA’s archaeological supervisor, was on site from Wednesday 10th to Saturday 13th September 2014, to help supervise the excavation and recording of the two new trenches, with assistance from the growing expertise of SVCA members. Dr Carenza Lewis also visited the site on Friday and during their open day for members of the public on Sunday 14th September, with tours led by Ashley Cooper and Julie Thomson of SVCA. Pupils from Bulmer St Andrew’s Primary School joined the excavations on Friday and took an active part in the activities including digging, sieving and finds-washing with help from Jane Crone and Ellie Mead, SVCA members and founders of Travels in Time, an organisation that introduces archaeology to primary aged children through hands-on activities.

Wednesday was spent opening the trenches and volunteers were on site for three full days of digging from Thursday before final recording took place on Sunday. Trench D, parallel and west of C, was dug to see whether the large storage pits and gully, or possible beam slot, found in the latter extended in that direction. Beam slots as well as postholes, some overlapping, were found in association with a lot of medieval pottery in trench D which seems to indicate that a couple of large buildings stood here, which may have been later re-built on the same plan. A relatively high status artefact, a Jew’s harp, as well as some early horseshoe nails, were also found in this trench.

In trench E, north-west of A, a black-fill ditch was found with several stake holes at the bottom. Some fragments of a mill stone made of igneous rock were found, perhaps relating to the bread ovens found earlier in trench A. Two postholes were found parallel to the ditch and a discrete pit and a posthole elsewhere in the trench. Another ditch found in trench E had been back-filled and was overlain with large flint cobbles packed by clay. This ditch and the occupation layer was cut by another curved ditch (shown right, being excavated) which requires further investigation in order to determine the phasing and relationship between them and the other features in this trench.

Last week’s excavations revealed further evidence for a multi-phase medieval manorial site with a structural land use to the south-east nearer the main residence and an industrial land use to the north-west where food processing took place. Updated daily by SVCA’s chair, Laure Bonner, the SVCA blog has more information about the volunteers involved and discoveries made on site last week, which you can read here.

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Posted by: archaccess | September 15, 2014

Goldingham Hall Excavation Day Four 14th September

Originally posted on Stour Valley Community Archaeology:

Today was spent recording, photographing and planning the new features and trenches at Goldingham Hall. Our Open Day this afternoon was well attended with several local people paying a visit to the site. Julie and Ashley gave tours and we had a lot of positive feedback. We were also fortunate to have Dr Carenza Lewis of Access Cambridge Archaeology on hand today to summarise initial thoughts on the features and finds brought to life over the past few days of digging.

Final finds washing

Recording in Trench D

The structure in Trench D may indeed be two separate buildings. There is both evidence for traditional style separately placed post holes as well as posts placed in one long post trench. This appears to marry up with similar features in Trench C, parallel to D. The early horseshoe nails and Jew’s harp recovered from this trench point to the higher status…

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Posted by: archaccess | September 15, 2014

Goldingham Hall Excavation Day Three 13th September

Originally posted on Stour Valley Community Archaeology:

The third and final day of digging at Goldingham Hall in Bulmer, Essex began with tantalising features and questions and ended with the same. This site just keeps revealing its secrets a little at a time!

Trench D (one of the tidiest trenches of all time!) possibly contains beam slots relating to the structure there. All of the postholes and pits in this trench have been excavated and most have been recorded already. It will be great to get the dateable finds analysed to reveal a more specific date for this complex!

A view of Trench D

Sarah hard at work with a mattock

Cat, Ellie and Louise recording features in Trench D

Major labour was needed in Trench E today as excavating on several larger features needed to be concluded. The dark ditch feature which appeared on the original geophysical survey was completed as were the rather confusing pits…

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Posted by: archaccess | September 15, 2014

Goldingham Hall Excavation Day Two 12th September

Originally posted on Stour Valley Community Archaeology:

Goldingham Hall Day Two

On the second day of the excavation at Goldingham, further work was carried out on the postholes and ditches in the two trenches. The postholes in Trench D have revealed a number of pieces of pottery and charcoal which can be used to date these postholes, which will then give a date for this building. Today was a very successful day with many of the features in Trench D being excavated and drawn.

Trench E, which also had postholes and ditches, revealed a ditch which has a lot of burnt clay and charcoal. It is possible that this ashy soil and burnt clay came from the ovens discovered at the site earlier in the year or other ovens which future digs will reveal. A number of pieces of pottery and bone have been found in this ditch. There is still a third ditch or pit to…

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Posted by: archaccess | September 12, 2014

Archaeology at the Festival of Ideas 2014

Archaeology at the Festival of Ideas 2014There will be lots of events exploring the past during Cambridge’s annual celebration of the arts, humanities and social sciences this autumn.

The annual Cambridge Festival of Ideas includes a wide range of talks, tours, exhibitions, performances and hands-on activities in and around the city for members of the public from 20th October – 2nd November 2014. Alongside this year’s Festival and its theme of ‘identity’, the Museums of Cambridge will also present Curating Cambridge: our city, our stories, our stuff; a cultural celebration of the city’s people, stories and objects bringing the Museum’s collections to the wider community. As part of the Festival, Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA), along with other University archaeological organisations including the Division of Archaeology and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, will be examining how outreach initiatives enable people to explore the past around them, learning more about themselves in the process as well as the identities of other people across time and space.

On Wednesday 22nd October, ACA’s Director, Dr Carenza Lewis, will be delivering a public lecture titled “From Time Team to Archaeology for All“, in which she will recall the highlights and legacies of her outreach work with over the the last ten years, which has involved thousands of members of the public in making inspirational discoveries advancing knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the past. The talk will be in Room 3 at the Mill Lane Lecture Rooms from 6:30-7:45pm and places must be booked in advance. Priority booking is available on Event Brite here until 22nd September 2014. If places are still available after this date, they can be booked on the Cambridge Festival of Ideas website here.

The Division of Archaeology will also be hosting its annual Prehistory Day at the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, on Storey’s Way on Saturday 25th October between 10:30am-4pm. This drop-in family-friendly event will bring the past to life for visitors who will have the chance to be experimental archaeologists for the day and try hunting with a spear thrower, making their own rock art and see how metal was smelted during the Bronze Age.

Curators at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) will be leading a couple of talks called Unearthing Cambridge which will discover the city’s hidden past through objects on display in their Cambridge Archaeology Gallery. The two lunchtime talks do not require booking and will take place from 1-1:30pm on Friday 24th and Friday 31st October. While visiting MAA, why not also visit the first museum exhibition of Tibetan material in Cambridge, Buddha’s Word: the life of books in Tibet and beyond which is open everyday, except Mondays, between 10:30am – 4:30pm.

For children, the Museum of Classical Archaeology has an afternoon drop-in activity during the Festival called Lightning bolts, owls and flying sandals for 7-11 year olds to learn about the Greek Gods and even design their own on Tuesday 28th October from 2-5pm. The Museum’s self-led Cabinet of Curiosities: children’s trail will also be available during open hours from October until December.

Beyond the University, a community project to capture the history of Mill Road, which has long been a vibrant and diverse community in Cambridge, will be hosting an evening of presentations and discussion between 7:30-9:30pm on Thursday 23rd October called Mill Road history: an identity. This will be based on their Heritage Lottery Funded research recording personal and historical memories and documenting the built environment of Mill Road.

For more information on all of these events and activities, and much much more, please see the Festival of Ideas website and the full Festival brochure which is available to view and download here.

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Posted by: archaccess | September 12, 2014

Goldingham Hall Excavation Day One 11th September

Originally posted on Stour Valley Community Archaeology:

Goldingham Day One

The morning was spent cleaning both of the new trenches, to identify the new features.
After the trenches were cleaned, digging of the features began.

In Trench E a section was dug through the large ditch which Ashley had found 17 years before. The bottom of this ditch looks like it is not far away and a lot of pot and burnt clay was found in it. Three postholes were also dug today and recorded. These appear to be running parallel to the ditch. During cleaning a new ditch feature appeared and this will be dug over the next few days. This could also be running parallel to the other ditch. There is also the terminus of a third ditch which has started to be excavated.

In Trench D, near to the large posthole, a number of postholes, ditches and pits have been identified and these will…

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Posted by: archaccess | September 11, 2014

New Trenches at Goldingham Hall, Bulmer

Originally posted on Stour Valley Community Archaeology:

Today, 10th September, two new trenches were opened at Goldingham Hall, under the supervision of Cat Ranson from ACA, who will once again be supporting us on this dig. The Goldingham site was first discovered by Ashley Cooper in 1997. As ploughed the field he noticed small black patches of soil between the size of a cricket ball and a football. The plough had brought these pieces of soil to the surface.

Trench D being opened this morning, being watched by David, Ashley and Cat.

Ashley released the archaeological potential of these pieces of soil and measured and plotted them on a map (see Image below, of Ashley demonstrating the method he used to measure the soil locations within the field).

Ashley demonstrating the measuring system used to measure in location of black soil.

One of these spots of soil was marked with a post in the ground which has…

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Posted by: archaccess | September 3, 2014

ACA 10th Anniversary Public Lecture by Dr Carenza Lewis

ACA 10th Anniversary Public Lecture by Dr Carenza LewisEveryone who has ever been involved in ACA’s outreach activities with schools and communities; whether as a participant, volunteer or in a professional capacity, is invited to attend a talk in Cambridge to mark the unit’s 10th anniversary this October.
As part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas, Dr Carenza Lewis will be delivering a public lecture titled ‘From Time Team to Archaeology For All’ about the outreach work she has directed under Access Cambridge Archaeology over the last decade. Well-known from Channel 4’s Time Team and BBC’s Story of England and Great British Story, Dr Lewis will recall the highlights and legacies of the last ten years in which she has involved thousands of members of the public in making inspirational new discoveries advancing knowledge and enjoyment of heritage.

The public lecture is being held in association with the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and Curating Cambridge. Dr Jody Joy, Senior Curator for Archaeology at the museum, will join Carenza to discuss how archaeology connects people across time and space using examples from ACA’s pioneering outreach projects and the nationally important department museum at the University of Cambridge.

Access Cambridge Archaeology (ACA) is an archaeological outreach organisation based in the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research in the University of Cambridge. ACA aims to enhance economic, social and personal well-being through active engagement with archaeology. ACA was set up by Dr Carenza Lewis in 2004 and specialises in providing opportunities for members of the public to take part in purposeful, research-orientated archaeological investigations including excavation. Dr Lewis began her outreach work by leading classroom-based activities on the theme of archaeology in schools in the autumn of 2004 and ran the first Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) in collaboration with the widening participation initiative, Aimhigher, in summer 2005. Thousands of members of the public have taken part in scores of programmes run by ACA, including teenagers involved in Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA) test pit excavation programmes intended since 2005 to build academic skills, confidence and aspirations. More widely, ACA has involved thousands of members of the public of all ages and backgrounds, including those with special needs, in a wide range of archaeological activities including field-walking, excavation, analysis and reporting. These have included projects funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and events in 2011-12 as part of the Cultural Olympiad for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The lecture will take place between 6:30pm – 7:45pm on 22nd October 2014 in Room 3 at the Mill Lane Lecture Rooms in Cambridge. Priority booking is available on Event Brite here until 22nd September 2014. If places are still available after this date, they can be booked on the Cambridge Festival of Ideas website here.

Absolutely anyone who has ever had any involvement with Access Cambridge Archaeology is encouraged to attend. Whether you have worked with Carenza and the ACA team as a school student, school staff member, university student volunteer, university schools liaison officer, local coordinator, member of a local historical and/or archaeological society, property owner, fieldwork or excavation volunteer, archaeological specialist, member of a partner organisation or in any other voluntary or professional capacity, you will be warmly welcomed at the lecture on 22nd October. Everyone at Access Cambridge Archaeology looks forward to seeing lots of familiar faces, past and present, in Cambridge for the 10th anniversary celebration.


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Posted by: archaccess | September 2, 2014

Southwold and Reydon Community Test Pit Excavations

Southwold and Reydon Community Test Pit ExcavationsFunded by Touching the Tide, local residents and volunteers dug 16 archaeological test pits in the coastal Suffolk towns of Southwold and Reydon last weekend with ACA and support from Southwold Museum Historical Society.

Touching the Tide is a Heritage Lottery Funded partnership project which aims to raise awareness of the complex and changeable nature of the Suffolk coastline between Covehithe and Felixstowe. Over thousands of years, coastal erosion and overseas migration have resulted in the loss, shift, creation and renewal of coastal communities in Suffolk. Although the loss of the medieval town of Dunwich to the sea is widely known, the changing fortunes of settlements still in existence, such as Southwold and Reydon, have received less attention. Dr Carenza Lewis, Director of ACA at the University of Cambridge, aims to redress the imbalance of research by collecting archaeological evidence for the origins and developement of Currently Occupied Rural Settlements (CORS), rather than those that have been deserted. As part of the Higher Education Field Academy (HEFA), ACA have already supervised the excavation of 1m² ‘test pits’ in the Suffolk coastal village of Walberswick, and were invited by Touching the Tide to supervise four days of community archaeological test pit excavations in the nearby settlements of Southwold and Reydon this summer.

ACA liaised with Southwold Museum & Historical Society (SMHS) to recuit local residents to offer their gardens to dig and volunteers to take part in the excavations, and nearly fifty people were involved in hosting test pits and excavating them from Thursday 28th to Sunday 31st August 2014. Eight of the test pits were located in Southwold, with sites at the caravan park, Gun Hill, Southwold Common, North Road, the Scout Hut and in the allotments behind Station Road. The other 8 test pits were north of the Buss Creek in Reydon, with sites on Gorse Road, Halesworth Road, Wangford Road and Long Marsh.

Diggers attended one of two briefings given by Dr Lewis, on Thursday and Saturday mornings held at the Stella Peskett Millennium Hall in north Southwold, to learn about the process of excavating and recording an archaeological test pit, and were visited on site regularly by the ACA team and members of SMHS. John Newman, a freelance archaeologist based in Suffolk, was on hand for the last 3 days to help identify the pottery and other small finds, and Touching the Tide Project Manager, Bill Jenman, was also present throughout the excavations – even enthusiastically volunteering to help to dig several of the test pits. All of the activity was brilliantly captured on camera by Sarah Groves, a Trustee of SMHS, and her photographs from the 4 days can be viewed on Flickr here. Especial thanks are owed to Chris Cardwell, Jan Holloway, Sarah Groves and their various volunteers from SMHS for promoting the test pit excavations locally, and for coordinating refreshments and access to the base.

Following a long weekend of sun, sea and sandy digging conditions in Southwold and Reydon, the event concluded with a provisional summary of the excavations’ findings by Dr Carenza Lewis at the Millennium Hall on Sunday afternoon, attended by many of the homeowners and diggers involved in the test pit digging as well as other interested local residents and visitors. All of the finds from the test pit were on display and Dr Lewis asked the test pit teams to say a few words about their dig experiences, before going through a provisional distribution map of the pottery of different ages. The final pottery report will be available on the ACA website within a couple of weeks.

Considering that these were only small scale excavations in now built-up areas, many of the test pits unearthed prehistoric flint finds from many thousands of years ago. One test pit on Southwold Common found a possible arrowhead (shown right) and the test pit at the caravan site found a possible Palaeolithic blade. Only one sherd of Roman pottery was found in Reydon and no Anglo-Saxon sherds were recovered in either settlement. However, medieval pottery was found at several of the test pit sites in Southwold and the southern-most of those dug in Reydon.

In feedback collected at the end of the event, 100% of the participants rated the event as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ and 94% said that they would recommend the activity to others. There was high praise for the organisation ahead of and during the excavations as well as the support and expertise provided by ACA and the Museum, with one participant describing the event as “a fascinating, well managed project” (RD) and another saying she found it a “very pleasant experience. All technical and support staff were very helpful and friendly down-to-earth people” (MJ). Local residents appeared to relish the chance to find out more about the hidden history on their doorsteps, with one test pit owner saying he “found the whole dig exciting and (was) pleased to be involved in archaeology in my own garden” (MW) and another that he wished to pursue this interest further: “very enjoyable experience. I hope to get involved in similar digs and/or volunteer digging in my local area in the future” (DW). Many of the residents invited family and friends to help with the digging and one participant said afterwards that “it was good to see the interest (my grandchildren aged 8 and 6) showed and questions they were asking” (DB).

ACA will be returning to Suffolk for another two weekends of community test pit excavations this autumn; firstly in Nayland on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st September, and then Sudbury on Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th October 2014. If you are interested in finding out how you can get involved in digging during either of these events, or help in the organisation of volunteers and finds on the day, please see ACA’s calendar for the relevant contact details.


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OAKskeleton#1On 23rd September 2014, Richard Mortimer will be talking to the Fen Edge Archaeology Group about Oxford Archaeology East’s excavations on Oakington Recreation Ground and around the village over the last five years.

In this talk, he will put them into context with earlier excavations and chance finds. A large and complex Early Anglo-Saxon cemetery has been completely excavated alongside settlement evidence spanning the 7th to 13th centuries. Oakington is located on a major prehistoric and historic routeway, a routeway which corresponds to an equally significant terretorial boundary. Cottenham will obviously get a couple of mentions, as will Willingham.

Richard Mortimer is a Senior Project Manager with Oxford Archaeology East and has been excavating for the last 30 years, 20 of these in the Eastern region. His personal research, when he  gets time to do any, is either focussed on the Middle Bronze Age (1500-1200 BC) or the Middle Saxon Period (AD 700-900).

The talk will begin at 7:30pm at Willingham Baptist Church (George Street, Willingham, CB24 5LJ) and all are welcome.

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