2017 - 2018 Lecture Programme

2017

11 OCTOBER: The Lewis lochs project: exploring the earliest crannogs in Britain
by Dr Duncan Garrow

Crannogs – artificial island settlements constructed in lochs – are a geographically widespread and intriguing category of archaeological site. Unusually, this one site type was constructed in many different periods of Scotland’s prehistoric and historic past – most scholars consider them to have been built, used and re-used from the Late Bronze Age to the medieval period. Significantly, our recent underwater diver and geophysical surveys of sites on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides confirmed that the origins of this site type lie 3000 years earlier than previously thought, in the Neolithic – transforming our knowledge of that period and of crannogs in general. This talk will outline the results of survey and excavation work in 2016 and 2017, also considering the possibilities that lie ahead for future discoveries.

8 NOVEMBER: Presentations by early career archaeologists from Pre-Construct Archaeology (3 p.m.) followed by lecture at 5 p.m.
3 p.m. Continental Potters? First-Century Roman Flagon Production at Duxford, Cambridgeshire
by Katie Anderson

Excavations in Duxford, Cambridgeshire, in 2013, revealed six early Roman (A.D. 50–80) pottery kilns. The kilns were used for the production of flagons, specifically collared and ring-necked varieties. Flagons are generally scarce in contemporary domestic assemblages in Cambridgeshire, often only occurring in ‘special’ contexts, such as burials, while collared flagons are closely associated with military consumption. The kilns also produced a significant assemblage of perforated kiln plates. The technology and repertoire of vessels suggests that manufacture was conducted by non-local potters for a specialist market and is therefore in stark contrast with a group of other early Roman kiln sites in the Cambridge environs.

Pots and bodies in wells and shafts: Roman pottery from Ewell, Surrey
by Eniko Hudak

Excavations by Pre-Construct Archaeology Ltd at the Former Nescot College Animal Husbandry Centre and at the Goodman Group Care Home site at Ewell, Surrey, revealed a number of Roman quarry pits relating to the extraction of flint and chalk on an industrial scale. The backfills of the quarry pits contained material associated with the practice of selective deposition including the disarticulated human remains of multiple individuals, large quantities of animal bone, coins, a gaming piece, a brooch, a spindle whorl, and several shattered complete and near-complete pottery vessels. This short paper will focus on the Roman pottery from the quarry pits and consider them in the wider context of the presence of complete and damaged pottery vessels in selective deposits within deep shafts and wells.

5 p.m. Two decades of research on the Lincolnshire Wolds: the discovery of a forgotten Roman landscape
by Dr Steve Willis

The deeply rural character of Lincolnshire has endured through modern times with large areas of the historic county untouched by development, though subject to industrial agriculture. The Lincolnshire Wolds are one area where the archaeological past has remained little explored. A project addressing this shortfall has been running since 1998 in the central Wolds focused particularly on the Roman era. Several sites have been examined via excavation and survey contributing to a growing picture of a heavily used landscape. Roadside settlements, villas and farms form a patterned system with clear indications of change through time. Evidence of buildings and settlement morphology have survived. Finds such as intaglios, literate and non-literate curse tablets and other small finds show a strong articulation with Roman norms in what might have been thought a remote part of the empire, whilst building materials and jewelry reveal long distance supply systems and comparative wealth.

13 DECEMBER: 20 Years of Treasure
by Dr Michael Lewis

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the Treasure Act and also the formation of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). Both have been successful in ensuring that important archaeological finds are acquired by museums, and (in the case of the PAS) encouraging finders, particularly metal-detectorists, to offer their discoveries for recording to add to archaeological knowledge.

This lecture will outline how the Treasure Act came in to being, and why government established a Scheme for the voluntary recording, rather than legislate against metal-detecting. Reflected upon, will be some of the most amazing archaeological discoveries reported Treasure, as well the significance of recording non-Treasure finds. While many in the detecting community are keen to co-operate, others do not, and this provides a challenge for archaeologists, particularly those interested in small finds and the historic landscape. Finally, this talk will look to the future, particularly in the context of a Review of the Treasure Act, but also exploring how archaeologists and detectorists might further co-operate in the future.

2018

10 JANUARY: The Archaeology of Anarchy? Landscapes of War and Status in 12th-century England
by Professor Oliver Creighton

This lecture will examine material evidence for the conflict of the mid-12th century popularly known as ‘the Anarchy’, during the turbulent reign of Stephen, King of England (1135–54).
Drawing on new research and fieldwork, the lecture will provide an overview of the material record for this controversial period, covering castles, siege-castles, churches and settlements, alongside material culture including coins, pottery, seals and arms and armour, and question the ‘real’ impact of Stephen’s troubled reign on society and the English landscape.

14 FEBRUARY: Knole Unlocked: uncovering the hidden history of a great country house
by Nathalie Cohen

Knole is one of England's largest country houses and is owned by the National Trust. Over the last five years, a major programme of conservation has been underway, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This has involved repairs to the roofs and exterior, and extensive work within the showrooms, removing panelling and lifting floorboards to allow for repairs and new services. Archaeological investigation and recording of these previously unseen areas has greatly enhanced our understanding of this great house and this presentation will describe discoveries made during the course of this project.

14 MARCH: The Archaeology of Large Infrastructure Projects: Roads
by Dr Stephen Sherlock

This presentation will provide some interim results from archaeological excavations on the A14 in Cambridgeshire. The excavations are being undertaken by Mola/Headland Infrastructure, who are currently employing over 200 archaeologists on the excavation of sites over a 20 mile road corridor between Huntingdon and Cambridge. The range of sites extends from “several Neolithic henges, Iron Age settlements and Roman sites” including pottery kilns in the Great Ouse Valley. In addition to this, there are three Anglo-Saxon villages with a range of structures. So far approximately 30 buildings have been excavated with evidence for crafts, industry and recreational activities. Stephen Sherlock, the Archaeology Manager for the Joint Venture constructing the road, will present a summary of the discoveries so far, as well as being honest about some of the challenges faced on these large schemes.

11 APRIL: Presentations by post-graduate students from the University of Kent (3 p.m.) followed by lecture at 5 p.m.
3 p.m. New survey and investigations at Bigbury hillfort, Kent
by Andrew Bates

Overlooking the River Stour and famous for its multifarious ironwork discoveries, the hillfort at Bigbury is thought by some to have been a forerunner to present day Canterbury. There is a consensus amongst the modern commentators that Bigbury was the hillfort attacked by Caesar during his 54BC campaign in Britain (though this remains unproven). In fact, beyond the ramparts, little detail is known of the pre-historic character of Bigbury or the hinterland of the site, and how the monument sits within the much wider Iron Age landscape. My research shows that potentially the complex at Bigbury is not only the visible, spatially discrete, centred ramparts we see today but was probably part of a two tier complex of linear earthworks stretching back west along the ridge several kilometres. This potentially puts Bigbury in a similar category to that of the oppida at Chichester and Colchester with their associated dyke systems.

Religious and ritual aspects of the communities at the head of the Darent valley, Kent, in the Roman period: the value of new investigative techniques
by Caroline Farquhar

This presentation demonstrates the value of incorporating Geographic Information System mapping and the now rarely-used methodology of Reece period coin analysis into archaeological studies. Traditional excavation reports and systematically logged metal-detected finds (via the Portable Antiquities Scheme) also contribute to this research, building a fuller picture of the ritual activities of this rural roadside settlement centred at Otford, an area rich in Roman remains. Results of the research include the discovery of a new, potentially votive, depositional site, a possible late fourth century pagan shrine, possible evidence for early Christianity, and unusual and unexpected indicators of a military presence. The diversity of the evidence suggests a similarly diverse range of communities living in, and passing through, the head of the Darent valley.

Reassessing Richborough
by Philip Smither
The story of Roman Richborough is as long as the ‘official’ occupation of Roman Britain. During the second half of the 20th century several publications have attempted to redress the story of invasion, port town, and finally defensive Saxon Shore Fort in light of new archaeological evidence from across Britain. However, since the picks were put down in 1938 little work has been undertaken on the Richborough archive and collection itself. This poses a problem where reinterpretation has been attempted from the published material alone. Alongside excavations by Tony Wilmott, and an English Heritage redisplay project, it is the aim of this PhD study to retell the story from the artefacts. This will begin with the military equipment and tools, a complete catalogue of the small finds, and finally setting out future research aims for the collection, and Richborough’s place in it’s local, provincial, and Empire wide contexts.

5 p.m. Reconsidering W.J. Varley’s Eddisbury: Results from recent excavations and historic archive research
by Richard Mason and Dr Rachel Pope

This talk will take three parts. First, we will discuss the newly-dated later prehistoric settlement sequence for Varley’s excavations on Merrick’s Hill. We will then detail new work on the hillfort’s eastern entrance, including Historic England-funded conservation and analysis of the recently discovered Iron Age gate-pivots, excavated by Varley in 1936-37. From this work, we offer a structural analysis and artistic reconstruction of the hillfort entrance, and a long-awaited reassessment of the hillfort sequence. Finally, we discuss the historic sequence for Merrick’s Hill, including recent excavations on the site and a reassessment of Varley’s ‘lost’ archive – the rich finds assemblage from which reveals a wealthy post-medieval forester’s residence, with medieval origins. This work hopes to shed new light on Bill Varley’s role in the development of British field method.

9 MAY: The President’s lecture
Archaeologists at war, 1914 - 18
by Professor Timothy Champion

The archaeological profession was still in its infancy in 1914 at the start of WW1, though better developed in Germany than in Britain. Many archaeologists had worked in Greece, Egypt and the Middle East, and with their specialist knowledge went on to work for the intelligence services. Responses to archaeological evidence disturbed during military operations varied: German archaeologists excavated sites on the Western Front, while in Greece France planned a research programme and Britain attempted to preserve the antiquities revealed. Many of the activities prefigured the more formal arrangements of WW2; Germany, concerned at accusations of barbarism, established a commission to protect historic monuments in the war zone.

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