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Who Is Your Archaeological Hero?

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As we progress into our second week of digging, we put a question to some of our hard working students: whose work, discoveries and achievements inspired you to get into archaeology, or fueled your interest in the subject? In other words: who is your archaeological hero? 
Max picked our very own Mark Horton as his archaeological hero because he brings a level of humour and charisma to archaeology which he believes all archaeologists should aspire to.

Dijwar's hero is Farouk Ismail who is a lecturer in Syria. Farouk has a vast amount of knowledge on Syrian archaeology and he runs an organisation to protect Syrian archaeological sites called "Sopartu".


Mark looks up to Mick Aston from Time Team because he was so passionate about archaeology. They both share the idea that archaeology concerns everyone and access to it should be made public.

After a shared holiday to Egypt, Tilley and Rosey were inspired by Egyptology in general, and the tomb of Tutankhamun in particular. It co…

The Next Generation of Archaeologists

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Yesterday saw the beginning of our second week of digging, and the arrival of a group of local primary school children. Dig director Professor Mark Horton gave the children the full tour of Berkeley Castle, which is currently dressed up for the filming of not one but two major television and film projects.
Following their tour of the castle, the children were given a tour of our trench in Nelme's Paddock, and an explanation of what we have found over the years, and what these finds and features can tell us about the history of Berkeley Castle.
Then came the real fun: the chance to be an archaeologist for the day! The children were introduced to some important archaeological techniques; excavation and finds washing. Bristol students constructed their own site for the children to dig in, filled with some fun finds including pottery, bones, iron artefacts and a necklace. The visiting students were happy to get stuck in and get their hands dirty to find something special. After the ex…

What Time Period Do You Belong In?

A Typical Norman Town

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Today we begin our second week of digging! As we get down to a possible Norman phase at the west end of Trench 8, we are hoping to discover additional remains of a Norman building, and evidence of the Norman town of Berkeley. But just what does a Norman town look like?
Existing towns were often levelled to make room for the central focus of a typical Norman town - the castle, which was commonly placed beside a river such as at Nottingham or Chester. Settlements tended to build up around the castle in a curving, semi-circular style that mimicked the castle defenses. These buildings were enclosed within the castle's walls and had gatehouses to the north and south, controlling traffic through the town. Originally, the surrounding walls consisted of earthen banks and ditches, but would later have been constructed of stone.  In several town plans such as in Swansea, the castle entrance is aligned to the two main streets in each town, which run parallel to each other, and one of which …

Springs, Pubs and a Mystery Feature...

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As the week draws to a close, our students are working hard in the trench, and today have been focused on a mystery feature. Round and surrounded by pitched stones, this feature appears to have a drain leading out of it. The feature is in the lower right corner of the trench, cutting through the end of a wall that is most-likely Norman in date, which runs perpendicular to High Street. The wall is thought to be the gable end of a building that would have fronted on to High Street.

Currently, we are unsure of what the circular stone feature is, but there are several theories floating around the trench. The drain indicates that this may be some kind of spring, well or water feature. This area of Berkeley is home to multiple natural springs, which in previous years have opened and sent rivets of water pouring down the trench in our absence. These springs may be the reason so many pubs and inn's have been recorded along the High Street. Known pubs on this street include the White Lion …

Berkeley Castle Exhibition: Our latest ambitious project

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This week, students from Bristol University have been holding a new exhibition in Berkeley Castle. On Wednesday, James Stone and Daniel Brown, second year students, gave informed insight into the cornucopia of outstanding finds contained in the exhibition from over our 14 years of excavation at Berkeley.


The exhibition consists of a chronology of material culture and archaeological artefacts, ranging from the Roman period to the post-medieval period. Notably, the Roman bone die, the Anglo-Saxon 'gnome' and the 15th century arrow head.

We are unsure of the date of the bone die, other than the fact that it is Roman in origin. Dice have had an integral part of gaming for centuries, even back in the Roman period. The ancient Romans had a game played with dice called Tesserae. Tesserae was played with three dice and the best score was three sixes. Bad scores were called “dogs” and the high scores were called “Venus” after the goddess of love.

We are also unsure of the date of th…