Showing posts from 2013

What is a Minster?

Berkeley’s Paddock trench has revealed more information suggesting the site was a part of an Anglo-Saxon minster. But what were minsters and why are they so important? Visitors view a very wet Paddock trench in Week 4 of excavations Minsters are the forefathers of common English parishes, they were the initial religious dwellings in early Anglo-Saxon Christianity. The first minsters were founded a century after Augustine of Canterbury’s religious mission to Anglo-Saxon England in 597AD, and they are found in the Royal charters in the seventh century. Anglo-Saxon Kings made grants of land to named individuals, which then found a minster. They were commonly founded by king or royal thegn (or thane), with the primary purpose to support the king and the thegn in regular worship of the divine office. Thegn seal made of walrus ivory showing religious iconography, c.11th century (Source: British Museum 1881,0404.1 ) The word ‘minster’ actually derives from Old English

Archaeological Illustration & Imaging at Berkeley

Some of the students on the Berkeley Dig have escaped the orange clayey swamp and have engaged in creating site plans and other scientific illustrations using the art of archaeological drawing and digital reconstruction. A site plan is a measured scale drawing of an individual trench or feature. They are drawn from a bird's-eye view perspective which allows archaeologists to refer to them during analysis and interpretation as well as during the production of accurate reconstructions. The students have been using an EDM (Electronic Distance Measuring) device as well as other techniques such as offsetting with tape measures to calculate accurate distances between features. They then transfer the results onto a hard copy format using rulers, pencils and Permatrace (more robust, waterproof tracing paper).  This year, 2nd and 3rd students have been using Trimble SketchUp to reconstruct a Norman house, using ground plans as the basis from trench 8, Nelme’s Paddock. Trimble Sketch

We interview Henry Webber about Geophysics and its use in Archaeology

In week 3 of excavations, we were delighted to host Craig Piper from Solum SW Ltd – he was here to instruct postgraduate student Henry Webber on the intricacies of geophysics. The social media team chatted with Henry about his interest in geophysics and how it assists our knowledge of Berkeley. What have you been doing at Berkeley? For the last two weeks, we have been running a bit of the course on Geophysics to help teach the undergraduate students how to do the principle of magnetic prospection and also resistivity. We also trying out a new piece of kit called Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) so we can get much better, clear images of what we have under the paddock here in Berkeley Castle. What are you hoping to achieve? Have there been any difficulties so far? The surveys have all been pretty good and most of it is has gone smoothly. It is important to get students used to using geophysics equipment and setting up grids. It means that they can go out for their maste

Interview with Ceramic specialist Paul Blinkhorn

Paul Blinkhorn has been developing his expertise in Anglo-Saxon & Medieval pottery since 1983. After completing his Archaeology degree at Bradford, he spent two years on the digging circuit before making the jump into the detailed study of ceramics. To date, he has looked at some two and a half million sherds. Paul visited the University of Bristol’s archaeology project at Berkeley this May and sat down to talk to us about his love of pots, archaeology and his work on Time Team. Tell us about your experiences on Time Team? I got onto that completely by accident. They were digging a Saxon monastic site in Norfolk. At the time I was doing a research project for English Heritage on Ipswich Ware (a standard type of Saxon pottery) when Andrew Rogerson, the county archaeologist, said "come on up on day three and have a look around". So I was wandering round the site with him when I got into one of the trenches where this huge tray of pottery was. I started picki

Duncan Brown (English Heritage) talks archives, the media and student careers [Interview Part 2]

We sat down with Duncan Brown (Head of Archaeological Archives at English Heritage ) to talk about the importance of archaeological archives, how archaeology is portrayed in the media, and what type of careers opportunities exist within the archive sector.  [Part 1 of our interview can be found here ] Duncan tells students about career opportunities with archives and archaeology Why is necessary to reform archaeological archives? The promotion of good practice, that’s the issue. Archaeological archives are an important resource and need to be understood to be an important part of any archaeology. If archaeologists want to be professional then they need to included archives and resolve archives properly and ensure the archaeological record is secure for future study, and that means it is properly audited and it’s comprehensible and accessible. What changes to the archive process are currently taking place? The main thing at the moment is the production of the

We interview the Head of Archaeological Archives at English Heritage [Part 1]

This week we were pleased to welcome Duncan Brown, Head of Archaeological Archives at English Heritage , for our lunch time lecture. Duncan talked about the process and importance of archaeological archives as well as outlining procedures for good practice. It was good for the students to understand what happens beyond digging in the trenches and how and where their context sheets, drawings and finds will ultimately be used and stored. Duncan Brown of English Heritage talks to University of Bristol students about archaeological archives The social media team’s interview with Duncan Brown is in two parts: part one covers Duncan’s views of the archaeology at Berkeley; part two (published on Saturday) details his reflections on archaeology and archives, the media, and student careers. What were your initial reactions to the site? When you visit the trenches, it doesn’t look much different to other archaeological excavations, but actually when the sequence of archaeolo

A Grave Discovery ...