Thursday, May 19, 2016

Excavating the local pub

In June 2014, Bristol archaeologists uncovered the remains of a Tudor building, and after consulting Berkeley Castle historical records, we now know that this tavern was called “The Crown Inn”. It was thought that this tavern was flattened in the civil war, to protect the castle and this guess was supported when a lead powder cap and a musket ball both were uncovered in 2015.

Excavations in this area have uncovered bones, metal objects, and even coins. To the side of the Crown Inn, there appears to be an outbuilding where several pieces of metal slag were found, indicating that some industrial activities were carried out in this area during the Tudor era.
Uncovering "The Crown Inn"
The reason we are writing this brief history of this Tudor pub is because this will be its last year in existence! This week we are removing the stones that form the boundaries of the tavern to uncover what lie beneath. While this may be a farewell, it is also an exciting opportunity to uncover what came before. 
Emily Glass's sketches explaining the archaeology
After we removed the stone gully in the stabling building to the rear of the pub, we found a bedding deposit with a greenish tinge to it which may be the result of horse waste! Not the most pleasant thing to find, but for archaeologists this can be a gold mine of information. This cessy soil has been shovelled into bags and labelled up with its unique sample and context numbers. It has been sent to the post-ex team back in Bristol to be processed through a method known as floatation. This involves the bags of soil being ‘washed’ in a floatation tank, where a steady stream of water is used to agitate the soil and release the organic matter. This may be pieces of charcoal, burnt seeds and other eco-facts which float to the top of the water and flow out through a spout and are collected in a fine mesh. This is called the ‘flot’ and, once dried, is analysed through a microscope to see what evidence has been collected.
Bagging flotation samples from "The Crown Inn"
The heavier part of the soil sample sinks through at least two sieves of varying sizes that sorts artefacts, stones and particulates. The bottom of the tank is where the sludge collects and is a very messy job to clean out!

While removing the gully stones we recovered a seventeenth century farthing (1/4 penny) wedged between the stones. This seems to have been dropped while the pub was in use, possibly someone’s lost beer money – a tragedy! Who knows what other items we’ll find as we dig deeper.
A view of the pub.
Finally, we are getting even closer to our Roman presence! We are starting to remove the last Anglo-Saxon layers from below the (now-gone) building foundations. Last year the evidence of Roman presence started to appear with our Roman pebbled surface and fragments of a wall seen below the pub structure and the floor of our Medieval building.
Work continues!
This will be a new chapter for the Paddock, for which we are very excited!