2018 - 2019 Lecture Programme


10 OCTOBER: 'Precinct and property: the archaeology of a later medieval monastery: Bordesley Abbey in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries'
by Professor Grenville Astill

After a brief review of the approaches to the archaeology of monastic sites and their settings, the long-running Bordesley Abbey Project is briefly introduced. The survey concentrates on the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, a time when there was dramatic change in the precinct which affected the liturgical, social and economic character of the claustral complex. These changes were also reflected in the disposition and character of the major properties, the granges. The transformation of these agricultural units not only have implications for the character of later medieval monasteries but also for the way we view the general nature of sixteenth-century land use and settlement.

14 NOVEMBER: 3pm and 5pm lectures

3pm Early Career Lectures from Hull and Newcastle Universities
'Cingulum Militare? A reappraisal of Hawkes and Dunning belt fittings in Britain'
by Douglas Carr

Hawkes and Dunning belt fittings are one of a few key artefact types that appear in both Roman and Early Medieval contexts. Since Sonia Chadwick Hawkes and Gerald Dunning published their study of these zoomorphic belt fittings they have been subject to several re-examinations. Unfortunately, these studies have not comprehensively reappraised the typology, chronology and interpretation of Hawkes and Dunning belt fittings. This paper presents the results of a full reappraisal of these belt fittings drawing on a dataset vastly greater than that available to Hawkes and Dunning. The interpretation generated by this study illuminates some of the important transformations taking place in Britain between the fourth and sixth centuries.

'Assessing and predicting natural environmental impacts on cultural heritage landscapes: a case study on Hadrian’s Wall'
by Lesley Davidson

The Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site (WHS) and buffer zone covers an area of 450 square kilometres across Northern England. The vast scale of this monument poses difficulties to its preservation and management. Parts of the Wall and associated archaeological remains have been partially lost or completely destroyed by human activity (e.g. agriculture, construction), however, the WHS has also been subject to natural decay and damage from environmental processes. Today, there is a sense of urgency to understand the impact of environmental processes on cultural heritage landscapes, as climate change has been identified both as a direct threat to these landscapes, but also as a risk multiplier, meaning that it exacerbates the effect of pre-existing threats. Combining geomorphology, geoscience and archaeological science, this research aims to assess and predict the impact of environmental processes on a number of study areas from across the Hadrian’s Wall WHS.

'Deposition and Praxis: A Study of Iron Objects Depositions in Iron Age Britain'
by Zechariah Jinks-Fredrick

The life work of Pete Crew has established iron was an expensive resource to produce in pre-history. Hingley, Cunliffe, and others have argued its deposition was important to the people of Iron Age Britain. This research seeks to further clarify the traditions and attitudes towards iron objects in Iron Age Britain through a detailed analysis of all object depositions from non-burial contexts. Arguably many of these depositional contexts follow a repeated pattern of engagement with the landscape, i.e. praxis. While the true reason of deposition my only be speculated upon, temporal and regional patterns between landscape type, context type, and artefact type exist. Here, these relationships will be discussed and potential interpretations presented.

5pm 'The excavation of a Middle Anglo-Saxon ‘King’s Enclosure’ at Conington, Cambridgeshire'
by Richard Mortimer

Located on a gravel ridge overlooking the A14 (the Roman via Devana) and overlying Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age settlement and a possible mansio, are the remains of a 5th-7th century Anglo-Saxon settlement of sunken-featured buildings, posthole structures, pits, cess pits and wells. In the late 7th century an extensive and multi-phased ditched enclosure system was imposed on the site, characterised by Maxey ware pottery and with gated entrances through deep, defensive ditched enclosures.

The western parish boundary may have marked the boundary between two of the minor Middle Anglian Kingdoms. The name Conington equals ‘Kings Enclosure’, and it is thought to have been one of a series of planted settlements designed to aid the control and organisation of newly conquered lands. This is the first excavation of such a site and suggests construction in the late 7th century under Mercian control, and abandonment no more than a century later.

12 DECEMBER: 'Bringing a large legacy project to publication - the Neolithic and Bronze Age Udal, North Uist'
by Beverley Ballin Smith

Iain Crawford was a controversial figure in Scottish Archaeology but his name will be forever associated with the Udal archaeological and historical project on the island of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. He began fieldwork in 1963 and ended it in 1994, but he never published. In 2012 a team of specialists began working on the smallest of his Udal sites, updating research and undertaking new, to bring what is known as RUX6 to publication. The monograph was published early in 2018. Iain Crawford's achievements concerning the survival of late Neolithic and Bronze Age remains at this site will be discussed along with his work on the local environment and coastal erosion – subject areas that were in their infancy when he began the project.
There is more to tell of the future work - the problems of bringing the evidence of the two largest sites to publication, and the probability/improbabilities of achieving it.


9 JANUARY: 'Raising the Curtain on London's First Theatreland - Excavations at The Stage, Shoreditch'
by Heather Knight

The Curtain playhouse was built c 1577 and is one of the very earliest purpose built theatrical venues and operated as a place of public entertainment until the mid 1620s. During that time it staged many productions including William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Ben Jonson’s Every Man in his Humour. Of the handful of Elizabethan and Jacobean playhouses that were built in London, the Curtain in Shoreditch is one of the least documented and until the site was excavated in 2016 very little was known about it. Heather will be talking about the archaeology found on the site, looking at the range of questions that this is raising, the new narratives that the archaeology is proposing, and how archaeology is contributing to an interdisciplinary dialogue researching the origins and evolution of 16th century drama.

13 FEBRUARY: 'The Roman Water Pump'
by Dr Richard Stein

In the Roman world pumps were used for many purposes, including raising water and, very importantly, fighting fires. Roman mechanical engineers cleverly refashioned the Greek bronze design to make a cheaper and better pump in wood. Ten pumps of bronze, and eighteen of wood, are known. There are remains of twenty three; one probably shows the progression from the earlier design to the later one.
This presentation will describe the location and dating of the known pumps, and discuss their uneven distribution through the empire. It will explain how pumps worked and were driven, and the rationale for, and process of, change. It will describe their output, how they were used, and what they were used for.

Rome used many types of machine, but few remains exist. The pump gives us an indication of the major contribution that machines made to the Roman world.

13 MARCH: 'St Patrick’s Chapel, Whitesands, Pembrokeshire: an Early Medieval Cemetery'
by Ken Murphy

St Patrick’s Chapel lies in wind-blown sand at Whitesands Beach in the far west of Pembrokeshire. The severe storms that battered the west coast of Britain in the winter of 2014 damaged the site, revealing burials and other archaeological remains. In May of that year a two-week excavation investigated the most damaged part of the site. This was followed up by a three-week excavation in 2015 and by another three weeks in 2016.
The earliest recognised use of the site dated to AD750-800 and seemed to be domestic and industrial. Wind-blown sand formed over this and with it the first burials appeared. Sand continued to accumulate and as it did so burials were stacked one on top of the other, up to eleven deep. From AD 870-900 long-cist graves first appeared, one with an in situ upright stone cross. The cemetery seems to have gone out of use during the eleventh century or early twelfth century. In the twelfth/thirteenth century a stone built chapel was constructed; this was abandoned by the sixteenth century.

10 APRIL: 3pm and 5pm lectures

3pm Community and Volunteer Projects
'Hagg Farm - a Romano-British Settlement in the Northern Yorkshire Dales'
by Philip Bastow

Swaledale and Arkengarthdale Archaeology Group (SWAAG) is a charitable, voluntary group of some 70 members which has been investigating Hagg Farm since 2010 and has carried out topographical, and geophysical surveys and opened a series of evaluation trenches.

In 2017 a 2-week community excavation, attracted over 90 volunteer excavators who opened a 400 square metre area. The site has revealed high quality civil engineering: paved and cobbled surfaces, surrounded by boundary and revetted walls and two highly crafted doorsills interpreted as thresholds to probable roundhouses. Pottery dating from the 2nd to 4th centuries and items suggesting contact with Roman (military) settlements have been recovered. Environmental findings have shown the presence of bere (six-row barley) meal and spelt grains. The results support the view that the settlement was abandoned towards the end of the 4th century AD.

'The People’s Palace – Community Archaeology at Fulham Palace'
by Alexis Haslam

Fulham Palace is former Summer Palace of the Bishops of London. The final Bishop moved out in 1973. In 2011 a Trust was established to manage the whole site and bring a new vision into being.
Archaeologically the Palace grounds have revealed evidence for Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, late Roman, Saxon, medieval and post-medieval occupation.
Our current £3.8 million phase Restoration Works entitled ‘Discovering the Bishop of London’s Palace at Fulham’ include a £1.88 million HLF grant. The works involve the restoration of our Tudor Quadrangle and Great Hall as well as moving and updating our museum and garden works associated with the historical influence of the bishops, many of whom were keen botanists. In September 2017 we undertook our Community led excavation in which we hoped to find our Tudor dovecote. Since then the volunteers have been involved in historic building recording and archiving the Palace museum’s archaeological collection.

5pm 'Excavations at Street House, Loftus, North East Yorkshire: Neolithic – Anglo-Saxon'
by Dr Steve Sherlock

Excavations between 2004 and 2018 at Street House, Loftus, North East Yorkshire, have revealed evidence for a range of sites extending from Early Neolithic settlement, to an Anglo-Saxon cemetery of seventh century date. The earliest features comprise structural evidence for Neolithic settlement c. 3,700BC, that is contemporary with a Neolithic long cairn excavated between 1979 and 1981.The main focus of the excavations was on a Late Iron Age settlement, where salt was being manufactured by the evaporation of brine collected from the sea. This developed settlement formed an open village that extended into the Roman period when pottery, jet and salt were manufactured by AD 300. The Iron Age enclosure was to become the focus of a conversion period cemetery in the mid seventh century.

8 MAY: 'The President’s lecture: Wade’s Causeway: A road to nowhere?'
by Blaise Vyner

The linear feature which crosses Wheeldale Moor, North Yorkshire, has long been promoted as an exemplar of a Roman road surviving untrammelled by turnpike or tarmac. As such, it has been in Guardianship for over a century. Considered since it was discovered in the 18th century to be part of a Roman road which extended from the fort at Malton to somewhere in the vicinity of Whitby by way of Cawthorn Camps and Lease Rigg Roman fort, there has been little critical review of the evidence. Fenton’s slightly exasperated comment, applied to another linear feature, far distant, holds equally good here: ‘ascribed like all old roads and dykes to the Romans or the Flemings, let them take what direction they may…’ (Fenton 1811, 131). There are questions still to be asked about Wade’s Causeway: ‘What is its route’ and ‘Is it Roman?’ might be a good start, ‘Is it a road?’ may be even more to the point.

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