Showing posts from May, 2015

Midway through the season

The second week of Berkeley is drawing to a close and we have accomplished a lot in a short period of time!
Our sections are nice and clean and thanks to all the hard work of our undergrads they are ready for photography. Site Supervisor Emily and her crew were hard at work this morning taking photos of all of the ditches so we can finish the recording of these features. Our students are continuing to empty the slot that was discovered at the back of the trench last week and our new pit is being cleaned ready for recording.
In more exciting news, we have made a couple of discoveries! In our Tudor tavern corner of the trench we have discovered a lead powder cap and a musket ball. A powder cap is a nifty device that would have served two purposes. Firstly, it would have capped a vessel containing gunpowder and secondly it would have been a way of measuring the perfect amount of gunpowder required for one shot.
Left: musket ball, Right: lead gunpowder cap
One of our Site Supervisor, Emi…

Exciting visitors and great finds

Today has been hectic for us here at Berkeley Castle!

Trays of artefacts and information posters were distributed to the ‘Town Museum Curators’. If you happen to find yourselves in Berkeley over the next two weeks, don’t feel strange about peering into the windows of the houses down the High Street and make sure to keep an eye out on the shop windows on Market Street. An array of artefacts including building materials, glass, shells, clay pipes and animal bones are now proudly on display!

An update for the day from the trenches: the ditches are being cleaned, drawn, planned and photographed. Excavation continues in order to gain a better understanding of the relationships between the ditches. Truncated postholes and pits (referred to as ‘truncated’ because they have had their tops skimmed off by later activity) are also being planned and photographed. The Anglo-Saxon building is being drawn in the hope that the stones will soon be able to be lifted and we can continue excavating, hop…

Town Museum project map

It’s officially here! The engagement team is proud to present the Town Museum Project for our 11th season at Berkeley. We have turned the town of Berkeley into a pop up museum for two weeks. Twenty trays have been placed around the High Street, Salter Street, and Market Place showcasing some of the amazing artefacts that we have found in our eleven seasons.

Photography Masterclass

Students were given the opportunity to attend a photography masterclass, given by Berkeley Castle’s volunteer photographers, Graham and Julie Harris. This husband and wife duo broke down the basic principles of photography and gave guidance to anyone looking for inspiration behind the lens.
Graham and Julie are locals, living only a stone’s throw away from the castle and the dig site. Aside from regular work for Berkeley Castle, they photograph for local charitable events and follow their own passions. Both are retired and use photography as a way to keep themselves busy in their later years. An inspiration for anyone planning for their golden years!
After covering the technical side of camera work, they talked us through what makes a great photograph and how to compose your subject matter.

These are their top tips! Each photograph should tell a story! Looking at a photograph can be like reading a book. Complex, interesting compositions make you consider what’s going on in frame. Putt…

Bank Holiday Bonanza

A smaller group than usual hopped into the archaeology land-rovers this morning, hyped up on Bank Holiday coffee, and headed towards Berkeley Castle.
2nd year, Beavis, armed with his ranging pole pointer, and 1st year Catalina, led four tours throughout the day to town members and paying visitors to the castle. These tours were a great success, enjoyed by almost 60 people, including a number of finely dressed young princesses and Robin Hoods (the Castle provided costumes for children).
We spoke to one high street resident:
“I just know the basic school stuff so it’s great to have the opportunity to have a closer look. Because, I mean, we know you work here… but it’s amazing to see what you’re actually doing. Very much enjoyed it! I’m looking forward to when you’ve discovered a little bit more. So hopefully you’ll give us an opportunity to come once again!" A local shop owner was also delighted with the tour adding: "Very interesting talk by the #DigBerkeley team today! Sooo…

3D image experimentation

Masters student Henry is experimenting with 3D imaging for artefacts, features and tools. What do you want to see? Send us your requests to or any of our social media channels.

Trowel by bristoldigberkeley on Sketchfab
Here's one of the 45 images used to create this model:
We're still learning how to use the multitude of software options and this is a great learning experience for our students!
Miniature Berkeley Castle by bristoldigberkeley on Sketchfab

Have a look at these colour versions hosted on autodesk - they look amazing!!! A miniature version of Berkeley Castle:

Looks like we have made progress!

Trowel In Trench by bristoldigberkeley on Sketchfab

Get stuck in!

Exciting progress is being made here in Berkeley! The trench cleaning process has finally been wrapped up meaning that the ‘real’ digging can begin. The team did such a good job cleaning that a number of pit and posthole features have been revealed and we are looking forward to seeing what else appears in the next few days of excavation.

The ditches (no longer mini-swimming pools) are now being cleaned out and site-director Emily happily reported that they are in fact in much better condition than she thought. The undergrad archaeologists might be forgiven for thinking otherwise due to the amount of sticky, clay mud clinging to their gloves, boots and knees, but the whole team are happily getting stuck in (literally) to see what they will unearth!

Here in the Public Engagement and Social Media team we also have some exciting things in store! Plans are being put into place for the upcoming Bank Holiday Monday. Artefact handling sessions are being coordinated, where a small collection …

Clay Pipes and Wet Wipes

Day four of our 2015 season and so far everything has been a resounding success. This morning, we took a picture of progress, cleaning out the trench:

Compared to the first day...

This is a genuine testament to the quality of the cleaning work carried out by our dedicated and passionate students - great effort.

Moving on from cleaning mud, to exciting finds: our MA Student, Morgan Jones discovered the part of a 1620's Clay Pipe in the south of the trench. The initials 'RB' were engraved into it - we are still unsure as to exactly what this stands for, but are outreaching to the local, national and international community with ties in the area, who may be able to shed some light onto the meanings. It will also be analysed more excessively at the post-excavation centre at 43 Woodland Road.
We also had the chance to catch up with one of the first year students (BA Archaeology and Anthropology), Charlotte Chan, to get an insight into her first impressions.
Engagement team: Is …

Scrattocking and pumping

Today we saw a mattocking masterclass from site supervisor, Emily Glass. She introduced students to "scrattocking", which is scratchy mattocking! Watch the video:

"Scrattocking" (Scratchy mattocking) masterclass by Emily Glass. #digberkeley #archaeology #excavationA video posted by digberkeley (@digberkeley) on May 20, 2015 at 3:26am PDT
Along the way, we notate plans and take levels in preparation for troweling, and we are recording the whole trench edge as we go. The east side of the trench, with the deepest excavations, includes three large puddles. Not exactly ideal for archaeology. Our brand new pump isn't working, but it should hopefully be fixed by tomorrow.
On the bright-side, the Anglo-Saxon building foundation walls and floor deposits will be removed. After de-weeding, the trenches will be cleaned to reveal a layer where some finds dating to the Saxon period were found. The site drawings will have to fit the 40m length section (1:20 should do it) and …

Jenner exhibit

Today marked the last day of the archaeological exhibit in the Jenner Museum featuring some of the items uncovered during the University of Bristol's excavations in the Jenner Garden and Castle grounds. Jack Fuller and Wil Partridge were the student leads researching and then presenting the archaeological finds for visitors. A year later they reflect on the experience of developing the exhibit.
"It was a lot of hard work, but really rewarding" explains Jack, motioning to the pile of finds waiting to be catalogued, "it's great to see everything that's been dug up over the years". Along with Roman features, were found some post-Roman skeletons and evidence for Anglo-Saxon occupation of the area. This caused considerable excitement among the team as it contributes to our knowledge about post-Roman occupation and the presence of the Anglo-Saxon Minster. Another particularly exciting object on the display was a twisted copper alloy bracelet dating to around…

Bristol takes Berkeley, day one

This Monday saw the return of the University of Bristol's Archaeology and Anthropology Department to their annual dig at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire. We were greeted by glorious weather in the morning (read: rain) and even more glorious traffic! Once at site, everyone got around to unloading all of the equipment from the land rovers.

Image 1: Phil Rowe and student unloading empty boxes. Archaeology.
The first years, however, got a lovely talk and tour courtesy of our site director Dr Stuart Prior and were in the trench in the afternoon. One first year, Catalina, said that they really enjoyed the history of the site and thought that it was great that she was able to excavate on a history-rich piece of land. 

Image 2: Our first years taking the tour of where they will spend two weeks of their life.
After lunch, the sun came out and the struggles with the tent began. We experienced 20mph winds - with forecasts as high as 40mph for tomorrow - and our poor tent struggled to cop…