Showing posts from May, 2019

What is the purpose of porpoise? New Berkeley discoveries

Last week, two of our students, Nkiruka Ogbogbo and Anneke Schadenberg, were busy sieving through spoil from Trench 8, when they happened upon not one, but two bone discs, known as epiphyses, which are believed to be from the tail of a young porpoise. These finds came from the backfill of a wall construction or robbing cut and are a first here at Berkeley – everyone on site is very excited by the find! Nkiruka with her find Anneke and her find Although porpoise is not something commonly found on menus today, various archaeological and historical records suggest that it was eaten in the past. Marine resources have long been an important part of human subsistence, with some of the earliest evidence of porpoise exploitation having been found at West Voe, a remote Mesolithic site in the Shetland Islands (Buckley et al. 2013). Evidence for porpoise exploitation has also been found in association with the Saxon period, during which the consumption of marine food became more an

What have our students been finding in Trench 8 today?

We asked some of our students: “what is the most interesting thing they have found today?” Sieving Team: Animal teeth and bones, probably sheep bones that come from context 8689 - which is the fill of a Saxon ditch. Annabel: A big piece of bone and some other fragments, probably cow bone from the slot I'm digging through the Saxon ditch. Annabel and other students working on excavating the remaining fills of NNW-SSE Saxon ditch Omar: A small piece of glazed pottery and glass fragments from cleaning this trench edge section through Tudor layers. Omar and Katrina cleaning the limit of excavation to show wall collapse and levelling layers relating to the construction of a The Crown Inn Tudor Corner Team: A big piece of pottery and small sherd of pot dated by Chad as roughly to the 13/14 th century and it seems it was used for cooking as the piece was burned. These are from context 8697, which is a Tudor layer that we think was below the pub building.

A bone dice discovered at Berkeley close to a demolished Tudor pub

On Friday afternoon one of our first years Duncan discovered a small dice similar to those associated with those from the Tudor period. He made this finding in an area close to the former location of a Tudor Tavern or Inn called 'The Crown Inn'. This supports information suggesting that dice games were extremely popular in the Tudor period. Gambling on dice was seen to be the most popular board game of all in Tudor times and Shakespeare regularly refers to dice gambling in his plays. It was a popular activity amongst all classes, with wealthy players using dice manufactured from gold or silver, but most were made from ivory, wood and bone. This popularity meant that cheating was also common in the Tudor period with weighted dice being found to contain lead which makes it more likely to land on the higher numbers. Although it does not appear that Duncan's find was weighted, therefore is an honest dice, but in previous seasons we have found evidence of this type of cheatin

Dig Berkeley Week 1 - Trench 8 Roundup

Trench 8 from above in 2018 The first week of three back at Berkeley was a busy and hot flurry of activity. After 15 seasons, this will be our final year working here and our plan is to complete Trench 8 (started in 2009) which has a full extent of 15m x 50m but has now been partially backfilled. It is the largest and most archaeologically dense of the 19 trenches we have excavated at Berkeley since 2005. This is a slice through the full width of Nelme’s Paddock on a slope leading up to St Mary’s Church and Berkeley Castle.    Trench 8 looking east (upslope) after cleaning in 2019   So far, Trench 8 has taken us back in time from Georgian kitchen gardens to the English Civil War, late Medieval, the Norman Conquest and Anglo-Saxon periods with a smattering of Roman finds, but no definite Roman features as yet….. Unfortunately, as all good things come to an end, so does the University of Bristol’s Berkeley Castle Project. Our project Directors are moving onto

Which Archaeological Tool are You?

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Interesting discovery- branded clay pipe

Yesterday one of our students, Meaghan Rowe, made an interesting discovery- a bit of clay pipe with "RB" engraved on it! It was found in the cleaning layer so it is difficult to date it but it might relate to the Tudor period as it was near a Tudor period pub. In addition, the clay pipe bowl seems to have been quite small and has no intricate decorations without the inscription, meaning it must have been used relatively close to the introduction of tobacco in the 16th century. Since the import was very small, the substance was very expensive so the pipe bowls were rather small. The pipes were quite fragile yet cheap so people replaced them quite frequently. Meaghan holding her exciting discovery The clay pipe has a heel bowl, meaning there is a rather wide circular feature at the base of it and the engraving in on the heel. A mould seam is also visible near the heel, meaning the pipe was not one of the earliest ones as those were made by hand but rather was produced