Thursday, May 28, 2015

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!

Artefacts sitting proudly on display next to the bread at Berkeley Bakery! 

Student Catalina putting up the display of artefacts and posters at La Lune Art Studio. Photo credit: Graham and Julie Harris. 

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, hopefully to find Roman remains underneath.

Sam, Wil and Mattie working on their section drawing of the trench

In the Saxo-Norman ditch, a piece of pottery known as ‘Ham Green ware’ was found. This was dramatic because Ham Green ware is medieval, dating to the 12th and 13th Century and so should not be appearing in this Saxon or Norman context. Thankfully though (for our dating and sanity) Emily worked out that it was found in a pit cutting through the Saxo-Norman ditch-fill rather than in the same stratigraphy as the Saxo-Norman material. This means that our ditch dating is still accurate along with our understanding of the site as a whole.

The Ham Green pottery handle with spotted design which momentarily complicated our dating. 

The finding of the Ham Green ware is also interesting generally, and we have found a LOT of the stuff here on site. The name ‘Ham Green ware’ refers to the site of the Kiln, in a field next to Ham Green hospital, rather than the colour of the glaze. Confusingly though, some vessels do have a very rich olive green glaze all over them. Ham Green pottery shards from archaeological contexts at Dundas Wharf in Bristol were dated using tree ring analysis of associated timbers and provide us with a date range of this type of pottery of 1120-1275. Pottery items found of this type include jugs, cooking pots and other vessels, often glazed and decorated with a variety of designs. The handle we found today, for example, has an interesting dotted design. Ham Green is also worth knowing about because it is close to where we are in Bristol – only 3 miles from Ashton Court (on the Somerset side of the Suspension Bridge) and only about 20 miles south from Berkeley Castle.


An example of a complete Ham Green ware jug! Click through for source on Cotswold Archaeology. 

Also joining us on site was Denis Burn, Chair of the Council of Bristol University Council from 2006, representative of the Merchant Ventures and past Master of the Merchant Ventures, along with Carly Hilts from Current Archaeology Magazine – Stay tuned for an interview with Carly, which should be on the blog soon!

Site directors Stuart Prior and Mark Horton giving a tour to Carly Hilt and Denis Burn. 

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