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Cate Davies

Breaking news: A collection of 13 Roman sheep in a ditch

By News

During excavation of a Roman settlement-edge site in the Fens in Cambridgeshire, we discovered approximately 13 sheep skeletons in a ditch. The skeletons are currently cleaned and prepared for detailed photogrammetry recording and eventual lifting, following advice by PCA’s animal bone specialist Kevin Rielly and the Historic England Regional Science Advisor. Preliminary assessment on site estimates that most of the sheep were juveniles. The bones are articulated but not all body parts are present. There are few butchery marks so how the sheep came to be in the ditch is still open to interpretation! 

LAMAS 58th Annual Conference of London Archaeologists

By News

This year’s conference will be held on Saturday, 19th March 2022, 10.45am to 5pm via zoom.

The morning sessions are, as usual, dedicated to a series of papers covering recent major excavations. PCA’s Ireneo Grosso will be giving a talk at midday called ‘The Roman cemetery at Great Suffolk Street’. The afternoon sessions focus on excavations along the line of High Speed 2.

Click here for further details and a programme of the day’s talks.

Our excavation of a large basement at Suffolk House in Southwark revealed a Roman cemetery with 64 skeletons, including both adult and juvenile, men and women, and 5 cremations. This area of Londinium‘s southern cemetery lay near where two Roman roads, lined with funerary monuments, converged. The burials date from the 1st- to 4th-centuries and most of the graves had evidence of wooden coffins, with iron nails around the base of the graves. A broad range of burial rites was observed including a crouched burial, decapitated skeletons with the head placed next to the legs or beneath the torso, a grave lined with large sherds of a Dressel 20 amphora and skeletons with their hands tied behind their backs, as well as a number of disarticulated human remains.

The grave goods recovered included a spectacular complete 3rd-4th century glass bottle with decorative bands on the neck and body; its handles, applied at the shoulder and neck, form ‘dolphins’. Other complete vessels, some containing cremations, include an Alice Holt/Farnham ware ring-necked flagon with burnished decoration and a Nene Valley beaker with painted floral scrolls (pictured below). These wonderful finds feature on the front cover of the latest edition of London Archaeologist.

Use this form to book your tickets:

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From Healing Waters to a Font of Knowledge

By News No Comments

We’re pleased to announce our latest publication, which is available as a free open-access download, with hard copies also available for sale on our publications page.

This booklet details the results of a built heritage survey of one of Hexham’s most important buildings: the former hydropathic hotel, known locally as the Hydro.

A late 19th-century engraving of the Tynedale Hydropathic Hotel.

The iconic building has been occupied by Queen Elizabeth High School since 1974, and the decision to relocate Hexham Middle School to the campus, and to provide both schools with new buildings, offered us the opportunity for a detailed examination of the historic core of the site.

In this fully-illustrated booklet we depict the many social and architectural changes which have occurred since the first building, Westfield House (left in the picture above), was established on the site in the late 19th century. This lavishly-decorated villa, surrounded by acres of landscaped grounds with a walled garden, was occupied by the successful Earthenware Manufacturer CT Maling, who updated and extended the property. His additions included a fernery and conservatory; at the time of their construction in the late 1850s glasshouses such as these were the height of fashion.

The presence of a chalybete spring in the grounds of Westfield House, along with Victorian enthusiasm for ‘taking the waters’, led to the construction of the Hexham Hydropathic Hotel in 1879. This magnificent building was designed with a central tower and many exotic features, including Turkish baths, a ballroom and elaborate stained glass windows, some of which survive today. The hotel continued trading until the Second World War, when it was repurposed as a hospital for sick children before being purchased by Northumberland County Council as an education establishment.

Our booklet, illustrated with historic images and details of the features recorded during the built heritage survey, also includes photographs of the idyllic walled garden, which had become overgrown and neglected before being rediscovered by a new generation who restored it to its former glory. The state-of-the-art development reflects and respects what went before, with the courtyard at its heart using the footprint of the original walled garden, thus providing an element of continuity during the evolution of the complex.

‘From Healing Waters to a Font of Knowledge’ – click here to read, download or purchase.

The school complex today.

Project Manager & Senior Project Manager, Cambridge

By Jobs

PCA is one of UK’s largest archaeological companies, with seven regional offices across the country. We have been delivering professional heritage services for more than 25 years. We are delighted to announce the opportunity to join our multi-disciplinary team of specialists, as we go into 2022 with a range of exciting projects across East Anglia, undertaken from our offices in Pampisford (Cambridge) or Honningham (Norwich).

We will be looking to recruit a project manager to join the Cambridge team.

PCA offers a competitive salary and a range of attractive employee benefits, including a pay banding structure that allows for career progression.

PCA follow all current guidelines regarding SOP and COVID19 and take the safety of our staff as paramount – advice is up to date with government guidance and site-specific RAMS are available.

About the Job

Location: Cambridge Office, The Granary, Rectory Farm, Brewery Road, Pampisford, Cambridgeshire CB22 3EN

Working week: Monday to Friday 37.5 hours per week, usually 8am – 4 pm

Salary range: £33,500 – £39,500 pa ( depending on experience)

The Role

PCA is looking for someone who is able to manage all aspects of watching brief, evaluation and excavation projects as required. The suitable candidate will have excellent communication and organizational skills, paying attention to detail. Previous experience in project management is essential, and confidence with building and maintaining good relationships with advisors and contractors. This role will suit someone who has proven experience of planning, implementing and overseeing archaeological projects from start to finish, taking into account all health and safety measures and budgetary requirements, as well as the ability to communicate clearly with their team.

Essential:

  • Experience in managing and running all aspects of archaeological projects
  • Experience in managing and maintaining project budgets
  • Ability to meet deadlines in an efficient manner
  • Experience in producing budgets and monitoring expenditure during projects
  • Proven experience in producing Written Schemes of Investigation and risk assessments
  • Excellent knowledge of health and safety procedures
  • Experience in overseeing a team and working with Project Officers, Supervisors and site staff
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Experience in client and contractor communications
  • Excellent timekeeping standards

Employee benefits:

  • Friendly and supportive work environment
  • 28 days of annual leave (including bank holidays and 2 days for Christmas, if employed over the Christmas period), rising on service length
  • £15 per night subsistence when working away from home (and high-quality accommodation provided)
  • High quality PPE and site welfare provision– the safety of our staff always comes first
  • Mental Health First Aiders
  • Cycle to work scheme
  • Flexible working, TOIL, possibility of work from home if eligible
  • Childcare vouchers, Christmas vouchers
  • H&S training relevant for your role will be provided and paid in full (CSCS, SSMTS, First Aid, Asbestos Awareness, CAT and Genny etc.)
  • Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) subscriptions paid in full
  • Driving time paid at 150% normal rate (when driving company vehicles outside of normal working hours)
  • Paid mileage if using own vehicle (subject to eligibility)
  • Annual appraisal and progression opportunity
  • Company pension scheme

PCA is committed to a comprehensive equal opportunities policy in which individuals are selected and treated on the basis of their relevant merits and abilities without regard to race, religion or belief, colour, sex, age, national origin, disability or sexual orientation. All applicants with the relevant qualifications and experience are welcome to apply for this opportunity. Please be advised that you must hold the right to work and live in the UK in order to apply for this job.

Please be advised we are expecting a high volume of applications, and therefore cannot commit to responding to all emails. In accordance with our GDPR policy, we will not keep unsuccessful applicants’ details or CVs on our system, unless you expressly request that we do.

To apply please email your CV and covering letter to Caroline Edwards, HR Officer: CEdwards@pre-construct.com. If successful you will be asked to attend an interview at our office in Pampisford. For more information please visit http://www.pre-construct.com

Closing Date for Applications: 21/01/2022

A Roman Chi-Rho Graffito

By finds, News

Our Roman pottery specialist Eniko has written a fascinating article on this rare and significant find, just published in Britannia.

The inscribed sherd was found during our excavations at Brandon House in Southwark and is only the second example to be found in London.

The Chi-Rho graffito – photo by Strephon Duckering and drawing by Roger Tomlin.

The site is located on what would have been the edge of the Borough Channel, north of the junction of the Roman roads Stane Street and Watling Street – an area of land reclaimed after AD50, with buildings in use until the first half of the second century. After this time the buildings were demolished and the area was sealed by a dark earth layer in which the sherd was found.

The sherd is a fragment of an Oxfordshire Red Colour-Coated type C100 mortarium, dated to AD300-400, and shows internal wear and sooting on the exterior. The graffito consists of a capital P overlain by a capital X, confirmed by Roger Tomlin as a Chi-Rho.

The Chi-Rho is the oldest Christian symbol and this graffito represents its earliest type, called the ‘Constantinian’ Chi-Rho. The letters P and X stand for the first two letters of the Greek word Christos, which means ‘the anointed one’. The emperor Constantine is said to have won the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in AD312 under this early form of the sign, which subsequently led to widespread use among the Christian community. Although common on many objects , such as coins, dress accessories and seals, it’s rare to find it on pottery, making this a remarkable find.

Eniko suggests that position and size of this graffito, underneath the flange and therefore only visible from below, could mean it was intended for display, and as an aide for its identification when placed on a high shelf. She also notes as significant that the symbol appears on a mortarium, thought to be used for grinding foodstuffs in a communal setting, with the implication that it comes from a vessel belonging to a Christian community in Southwark for use in communal dining.

This was the only Christian find from the site, however the pottery assemblage contained several other pieces with graffiti and perforations which can be linked to ritual and religious activity. Perforated pots are commonly found as structured deposits having been ritually ‘killed’ in this way, for example at another PCA site nearby at Swan Street. Here, at least six wells or shafts produced evidence of ritual activity in the form of damaged vessels and disarticulated human and animal remains, displaying continiuty of tradition dating back to the Late Iron Age.

Our forthcoming monograph on Brandon House will discuss this in greater detail, but in the meantime if you’d like to read more of Eniko’s fabulous research, a pdf of her article is available by clicking this link: A Chi-Rho Graffito from Brandon House, Southwark

The Bronze Age cremation urn – an update

By Excavations at Cholsey, finds, News No Comments

The Bronze Age vessel we found in April at Cholsey has now been micro-excavated, with potentially fascinating results!

The beautifully decorated cremation urn was found deliberately buried in the centre of a droveway running through the site in Oxfordshire as an apparent votive offering.

Scans confirmed it held a cremation, and the precise 3-dimensional model produced was used to inform our micro-excavation and sub-sampling strategies. The radiographer identified a possible metal object in the urn so we were excited to see what this might be!

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The ‘metal’ object turned out to be a very dense pebble of pyrite, a mineral named after the Greek ‘pyr’ meaning ‘fire’. The urn also contained a piece of struck flint – a plano-convex knife with semi-invasive retouch around all edges. These types of implement were frequently used as grave goods during the Early Bronze Age, this one having been placed after the cremation process with the deceased’s ashes by the mourners. They seem to be quite personal objects and may even acted as a kind of insignia or token of their identity – interestingly this one doesn’t seem to have been used very much and may even have been made specially for the funeral. It is particularly impressive as it seems to have incorporated, or been crafted around, the oval inclusion in the middle which makes it even more striking!

Together these two items raise the exciting and fascinating possibility that they could form part of a strike-a-light, or ‘fire-kit’, attested to in prehistoric mortuary contexts throughout Britain. There is the suggestion of a use-notch on one end of the stone and the rough split edge would produce sparks when struck the flint; these types of knives are known to have been used to make fire in this way.

Strike-a-light kits consisted of a ‘striker’ – a piece of flint, a ‘strike-stone’ – an ironstone such as this and tinder, for example moss, which depending on soil conditions may leave no trace. Evidence suggests that these kits occur most frequently with the burial of adult males; additionally they’re often known to be associated with high-status burials. They have been argued to be symbolic inclusions in a cremation, rather than related to their use, which could explain the minimal wear patterns so far observed.

However, these artefacts will now undertake the next stage of their journey: closer examination by our lithics and stone specialists who may be able to shed more light on the matter! We’ll keep you posted!

Trainees to Project Officers, various regions

By Jobs

PCA is one of UK’s largest archaeological companies, with seven regional offices across the country. We have been delivering professional heritage services for more than 25 years. We are delighted to announce the opportunity to join our multi-disciplinary team of specialists, as we venture into 2022 with a range of exciting projects, which will be undertaken from our offices in Cambridge, Norwich and Winchester.

We will be looking to recruit staff at all levels from Trainees up to Project Officers.

PCA offers a competitive salary and a range of attractive employee benefits, including a pay banding structure that allows for career progression.

All successful candidates will undergo a probationary 3-month period, after which, given satisfactory performance, they will be offered a permanent contract.

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About the job:

Location: Various (Cambridge, Norwich, Winchester and Newark)- please specify your preferred location

Working week: Monday to Friday 37.5 hours per week, usually 8am – 4 pm (may vary)

Salary range:

Trainees- £19,682.27

Archaeologists – starting at £21,092

Assistant Supervisors – starting at £23,253

Supervisors – starting at £24,797

Project Officers – starting at £28,930

Trainees

Responsibilities (you will receive training in the following):

  • Excavation of archaeological features and deposits
  • Collection and labelling of artefacts
  • Writing context sheets for archaeological features and deposits, drawing plans and sections to scale, on site photography
  • Collection and processing of environmental samples
  • Post-ex office work (occasionally required) including washing, marking and labelling finds and archiving site records

Requirements:

  • Current undergraduate student of Archaeology or relevant subject
  • Ability and willingness to work on site in all kinds of weather
  • Good oral and written English, basic maths skills are essential
  • Willingness to learn new skills, positive attitude and excellent work ethic
  • Good teamwork
  • Excellent punctuality and timekeeping
  • Attention to detail
  • Commitment to PCA’s health and safety policies at all times (explained in full during induction)

Field Archaeologists

Responsibilities:

  • Excavation of archaeological features and deposits
  • Collection and labeling of artefacts
  • Writing context sheets for archaeological features and deposits, drawing plans and sections to scale, on site photography
  • Collection and processing of environmental samples
  • Post-ex office work (occasionally required) including washing, marking and labeling finds, archiving site records

Minimum requirements:

  • 3 months of fieldwork experience
  • CSCS card
  • Good teamwork
  • Punctuality and good time keeping
  • Commitment to PCA’s health and safety policies at all times

Assistant Supervisors and Supervisors

Responsibilities:

  • Excavation and recording of archaeological features and deposits to a high quality
  • Supervision of small teams
  • Machine watching
  • Site survey
  • On site liaison with clients and contractors
  • Preparing written account of undertaken field work (grey literature reports)

Minimum requirements:

  • Excellent oral and written English
  • Ability and willingness to work on site in all kinds of weather
  • Ability to work under pressure and deliver to strict deadlines while maintaining excellent quality of work, mindfulness of project budget
  • Willingness to learn new skills, positive attitude and excellent work ethic
  • Good teamwork
  • Punctuality and good time keeping
  • Attention to detail
  • Degree in Archaeology or related subject
  • Computer literacy (MS Office package, databases, knowledge of graphic programs such as Auto Cad, QGIS, Illustrator etc. will be advantageous)
  • Minimum two years of fieldwork experience in the UK
  • Experience in report writing is desirable but not essential
  • Experience in GPS surveying is desirable but not essential
  • Full clean UK driving license and willingness to drive company vehicles (if applying for a Supervisor)
  • Commitment to PCA’s health and safety policies at all times

Project Officers

Responsibilities (all of above plus the following):

  • Assisting in the management of projects
  • Supervision of a variety of sites, including large scale and infrastructure projects
  • Preparing written account of undertaken field work, including publications, journal articles etc.
  • Report checking, preparing WSIs, DBAs and RAMS
  • Regular liaison with clients and contractors
  • Health and safety responsibilities

Minimum requirements: (all of the above plus the following)

  • Degree in Archaeology or related subject
  • Full clean UK driving license and willingness to drive company vehicles
  • Experience in GPS survey
  • At least five years of field work experience in the UK, including minimum two years of working in a supervisory role
  • Proven written account of undertaken projects (grey literature reports, desk-based assessments, publications etc.)
  • The successful candidates need to present a high level of self-motivation and discipline
  • Commitment to PCA’s health and safety policies at all times

Employee benefits:

  • Friendly and supportive work environment
  • 28 days of annual leave (including bank holidays and 2 days for Christmas, if employed over the Christmas period), rising on service length
  • £15 per night subsistence when working away from home (and high-quality accommodation provided)
  • High quality PPE and site welfare provision– the safety of our staff always comes first
  • Mental Health First Aiders
  • Cycle to work scheme
  • Flexible working, TOIL, possibility of work from home if eligible
  • Childcare vouchers, Christmas vouchers
  • H&S training relevant for your role will be provided and paid in full (CSCS, SSSTS, First Aid, Asbestos Awareness, CAT and Genny etc.)
  • Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (Cifa) subscriptions paid in full
  • Driving time paid at 150% normal rate (when driving company vehicles outside of normal working hours)
  • Paid mileage if using own vehicle (subject to eligibility)
  • Annual appraisal and progression opportunity
  • Company pension scheme

PCA is committed to a comprehensive equal opportunities policy in which individuals are selected and treated on the basis of their relevant merits and abilities without regard to race, religion or belief, colour, sex, age, national origin, disability or sexual orientation. All

applicants with the relevant qualifications and experience are welcome to apply for this opportunity. Please be advised that you must hold the right to work and live in the UK in order to apply for this job.

PCA follow all current guidelines regarding SOP and COVID19 and take the safety of our staff as paramount – advice is up to date with government guidance and site-specific RAMS are available.

Please be advised we are expecting a high volume of applications, and therefore cannot commit to responding to all emails. In accordance with our GDPR policy, we will not keep unsuccessful applicants’ details or CVs on our system, unless you expressly request that we do.

To apply please email your CV and covering letter to Caroline Edwards, HR Officer: CEdwards@pre-construct.com Please state on your application which role you are applying for and at which office would you want to be based. If successful you will be asked to attend an interview at the relevant office.

PCA London Field Staff Herne Bay

By Jobs

PCA is one of UK’s largest archaeological companies, with seven regional offices across the country. We have been delivering professional heritage services for more than 25 years. We are delighted to announce the opportunity to join our multi-disciplinary team of specialists, as we come to the end of 2021 and look to go into 2022 with a range of exciting projects across Greater London and North Kent.

NB: This particular project is site specific and will require successful applicants to be committed to living away for four nights per week for the duration of the projects which are around 3 months long. Subsistence and accommodation will be provided. Applicants also welcome who would be able to commute to and from Herne Bay.

Please only apply if you can commit to these specifics.

About The Job

Role: Archaeologist

Location: Herne Bay and surrounding area

Working week: Monday to Friday 37.5 hours per week, usually 8am – 4.30 pm, with breaks for lunch and tea

Salary range: £24,247 to £25,367 per annum

Contract Type: Fixed-Term

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Role Requirements:

  • Interest in archaeology
  • Ability and willingness to work on site in all kinds of weather
  • Good oral and written English, basic math skills are essential
  • Willingness to learn new skills, positive attitude and excellent work ethic
  • Good teamwork
  • Punctuality and good time keeping
  • Attention for detail
  • Commitment to PCA’s health and safety policies at all times
  • 3 months of commercial fieldwork experience

Desirable:

  • Membership with CIfA
  • Clean driving license and willingness to drive company vehicles
  • First-aid training
  • Valid CSCS cards
  • Experience of Watching Brief work

PCA follow all current guidelines regarding SOP and COVID19 and take the safety of our staff as paramount – advice is continuously updated in line with government guidance and site-specific RAMS are provided for each project.

Employee benefits:

  • Friendly and supportive work environment
  • 28 days of annual leave (including bank holidays, with 2 extra days for If you are employed with us over the Christmas period), rising on service length
  • £15 per night subsistence when working away from home (and high-quality accommodation provided)
  • High quality PPE and site welfare provision– the safety of our staff always comes first
  • Mental Health First Aiders
  • Cycle to work scheme
  • Flexible working, TOIL, possibility of work from home if eligible
  • Childcare vouchers, Christmas vouchers
  • H&S training relevant for your role will be provided and paid in full (CSCS, SSSTS, First Aid, Asbestos Awareness, CAT and Genny etc.)
  • Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (Cifa) subscriptions paid in full
  • Driving time paid at 150% normal rate (when driving company vehicles outside of normal working hours)
  • Paid mileage if using own vehicle (subject to eligibility)
  • Annual appraisal and progression opportunity
  • Company pension scheme

PCA is committed to a comprehensive equal opportunities policy in which individuals are selected and treated on the basis of their relevant merits and abilities without regard to race, religion or belief, colour, sex, age, national origin, disability or sexual orientation. All applicants with the relevant qualifications and experience are welcome to apply for this opportunity.

We are expecting a high volume of applications and therefore cannot commit to confirming receipt of applications. In accordance with our GDPR policy, we will not keep unsuccessful applicants’ details or CVs on our system, unless you expressly request that we do. Please be advised that you must hold the right to work and live in the UK in order to apply for this job.

To apply please email your CV and covering letter to Caroline Edwards (CEdwards@pre-construct.com) Please specify on your application which role you are applying for. If successful, you may be asked to attend an interview at our office in London.

Applications will be considered on receipt, so please feel free to apply at any time before the specified closing date. Closing Date: 07/01/2022