Our animal bone specialist Kevin Rielly will be giving a free, online talk on this site for the London Archaeological Forum on Monday May 16 at 6pm.
Our recent excavation at Carrington Street, just north of Green Park in London, provided several partial or near complete cattle burials as well as large dumps of horse bones, all dating to the early 18th century. The cattle burials conform to those found at other contemporary sites in London (in particular at the British Museum): invariably multiple burials of mature cows often accompanied by juveniles (calves). These are likely to represent rinderpest mortalities, a disease which had devastating effects on the British cattle population. The same site provided copious remains of partially articulated horse skeletons, almost certainly derived from a knackers yard. This yard obviously provided for certain post-mortem industries, with certain skeletal parts poorly represented, notably the metapodials and phalanges (foot bones), useful for bone working purposes and glue manufacture, while the flesh of these animals was undoubtedly sold on to pet food manufacturers, as indicated by the copious butchery marks.
Booking is free and all are welcome! Use the form below to register.
Huge congratulations to Vicki Ridgeway who has just been elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in London!
This is an amazing honour and achievement! The election procedure is highly selective compared with other societies. Nominations for fellowship of this society can come only from existing fellows, and must be signed by between five and twelve existing fellows. Elections then occur by ballot, and a prospective candidate must have twice as many ‘yes’ votes as ‘no’ votes.
Fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries in London is a recognition of significant achievement in the fields of archaeology, antiquities, history and heritage! Well done Vicki!
The return to live archaeology conferences means a restart of PCA book stalls! Eniko and Katie from PCA Durham attended the Roman Finds Group spring conference at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle with a selection of PCA and Thameslink monographs. They were very excited to be there, to catch up with friends and colleagues and to showcase PCA work. Which monograph was the bestseller you wonder? It was our latest volume ‘By the Medway Marsh’ by James Gerrard and Guy Seddon!
The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is ‘loneliness’, which one in four adults feel some, or all, of the time.
For Mental Health Awareness Week this year, we’re raising awareness of the impact of loneliness on our mental health and the ways we can tackle it.
1. Try to do enjoyable things to keep you busy
One way to manage loneliness is by keeping busy with hobbies we enjoy. Even small activities can give you energy and positive feelings if they’re fun or fulfilling.
Be careful not to work too hard or watch TV as a distraction, which will only postpone your feelings and could make you feel worse.
2. Try to do things that stimulate your mind
Occupying your mind can help with loneliness, for example listening to podcasts. This can be stimulating and listening to the familiar voice of someone you like can help you feel less lonely.
3. Think about doing a physical activity
Physical exercise can help with loneliness, even just a walk in the park when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Or you could boost your mood by listening to music and dancing!
4. Try to engage with the people you meet in your daily life.
It can be hard to talk to others when you’re feeling lonely, but trying to connect with people you meet can be helpful. Even catching someone’s eye and saying hi can make you feel better. Sharing a polite greeting might give someone else a positive lift too.
5. Find people that ‘get you’
It can be hard to connect with others when you’re feeling lonely, but there are great benefits in finding people who have been through similar experiences to you. Interacting with others who understand can give you a sense of belonging. Local groups or social media can be useful for these types of connection.
6. Spend time with pets
If you are lucky enough to have a pet, it can be a great way to manage loneliness. As well as providing unconditional love, they can also help to give structure to our days and encourage us to get out and connect with others. Interaction with pets is also shown to help reduce stress levels.
7. Try to use social media in a positive way
Social media can help your mental health, but it can also have a negative impact; the key is to use it in a positive way. Finding online communities with shared interests can help. Be aware of how you feel when you use social media and focus on topics that improve your mood.
8. Talking therapies can help
Talking through your feelings with a counsellor or therapist can help you cope with your feelings of loneliness. Talking therapy can be hard to get – but if you can find a professional, it can be of benefit, and provide you with a safe space to work through your feelings and thoughts without judgement. Check out your local resources by visiting the NHS website.
Hyde 900 is a voluntary group established to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the foundation of Hyde Abbey in 1110. Hyde Abbey was built to replace the ‘New Minster’, demolished to make way for the current Cathedral; King Alfred was buried in New Minster along with his Queen Alswitha and son Edward. Their remains and of others were moved to Hyde Abbey. The abbey eventually closed in the Dissolution of 1538.
Winchester Archaeological Research Group (WARG) was established as a local voluntary group back in the time of Martin Biddle’s excavations in Winchester and has thrived in recent years, providing a opportunity for people to get involved in various field projects in Winchester and its District.
Hyde 900 and WARG have combined to run, over the last five years, test pit investigations in the gardens of houses in Hyde (a suburb north of the historic core) to try and confirm the plan of the abbey church and its cloisters. The investigations have revealed a number of remarkable finds including fragments of architectural detail, encaustic floor tiles, medieval painted window glass as well as walls and floors that aid the reconstruction of the plan of the abbey.
The recent dig at 6 King Alfred Place (my house!) has targeted a very strong response on a GPR survey on the line of the projected north wall of the abbey church. The dig has found the north wall at just 70cm depth, along with a small area of mortar bedding of the once tiled internal floor.
The beakhead was recovered from the demolition deposits above the abbey church’s floor and north wall. It perhaps once adorned a capitol or arch. It seems to be firmly 12th century. We have been providing advice and support to the investigations (and in my case making the ultimate sacrifice of plants in our garden).
This late 16th/early 17th century stoneware saltglazed jug, produced in Raeren, is no. 10 in our ‘find of the week’ series from McAleer & Rushe’s site at Arbor City Hotel, London Aldgate. The neck is moulded with portrait busts within oval panels. It would originally have been mounted with a pewter lid and had an additional moulded frieze on the body. These jugs were used to serve beer, continuing our theme from last week!
This fine collection of 17th-century German Frechen stoneware Bartmann jug faces is no. 9 in our ‘find of the week’ series from McAleer & Rushe’s site at Arbor City Hotel in Whitechapel. They came from a brick-lined cesspit and there doesn’t seem to be much broken stoneware with them, so they might have been selected/collected before disposal. These were imported into London between 1550 & 1700, and large numbers of such vessels from a single feature are often a good indication of the presence of a 17th-century drinking establishment nearby. The face masks have often been attributed as a caricature of Cardinal Roberto Bellarmine (1542-1621) and his dislike of drinking alcohol, however, the face masks predate Cardinal Bellarmine and are more likely to represent the Wild Man of European folklore.
This 17th-18th century sugar cone mould is no. 8 in our ‘Find of the Week’ series from McAleer & Rushe’s site at Arbor City Hotel. These moulds varied hugely in size, producing sugar loaves weighing between 5 & 50lbs. Small cones like this example made better quality, more expensive sugar. As Whitechapel is now a very mixed community, the archaeology is a poignant reminder that the area was once involved in the transatlantic slave trade through sugar production.
There aren’t many sheep or goats in Whitechapel these days but here’s one dating from the 16th-18th century! This is No. 7 in our ‘Find of the Week’ series from McAleer & Rushe’s site at Arbor City Hotel.
We’re very pleased to announce that our long-anticipated monograph ‘By the Medway Marsh‘ by James Gerrard and Guy Seddon has landed and is now available to purchase from our publications page!
‘By the Medway Marsh’ is the culmination of years of research following our excavation at Grange Farm in Kent, undertaken in 2005 ahead of a housing development, and sheds light on the unusual and fascinating discoveries we made there.
During the course of the excavation we found evidence of the extraction of silver on an industrial scale – 15kg of litharge – a by-product of the extraction of silver from other metals, and the most ever found on a site in Roman Britain. Another unusual aspect to the site was the discovery that a mausoleum containing a lead-lined coffin, itself a rare find in Roman Britain, had dominated the landscape here for more than 700 years. This imposing monument bore witness to the departure of the Romans as the empire fell, and subsequently became a landmark for Anglo-Saxon tribes arriving along the River Medway, with its ruins inhabited by owls.
‘Quite why people were refining silver from silver-rich base metal alloys is a mystery. Quite what the objects being melted down were is a mystery too. One would imagine that silver refining, part of the late Roman precious metal economy, closely tied into the tax-military pay cycle, would have occurred within an official or semi-official context. Yet Grange Farm was a small scale rural settlement. It is very unusual. Maybe they were making silver objects like the ingots in the Canterbury Treasure.’
James Gerrard, co-author and senior lecturer in Roman Archaeology at Newcastle University
First inhabited by a farming community in the Late Iron Age (around 100BC), the site’s significant location just over a mile north of Watling Street, one of the main roads in Roman Britain, led to dramatically increased activity during the post-conquest period. By the second century AD a road crossed the site, linking Watling Street, which ran between Dover and London, with marshlands to the north, then an important centre for the manufacture of salt and ceramics. By the fourth century a new settlement incorporated an ‘aisled building’, a wooden structure common in Roman Britain, divided into three parts: one end devoted to high-status accommodation, with fireplaces in the middle and an area for metalworking at the other end. A huge amount of litharge – a by-product of the ‘cupellation’ method of silver extraction – was unearthed; weighing 15kg, it’s the most ever found at a site in Roman Britain, representing silver extraction on an industrial scale.
The construction of a Roman mausoleum here is unusual; they are more commonly found with villas rather than aisled buildings. The monument would have stood almost two storeys high, with a tessellated pavement of plain red mosaic, also rare in Roman Britain. The lead-lined coffin within the mausoleum held the remains of a middle-aged high-status woman. Dr Gerrard adds ‘She had quite a hard life though. She had osteoarthritis but she lived to a good age and was buried with reverence. She was no peasant.‘
It is very unusual to find a lead-lined coffin within a mausoleum in Roman Britain and the building and the coffin both suggest the woman was important to her community. Stable isotope analysis suggests that she may well have grown up in the local area, although we can’t exclude an origin in parts of southern and eastern England or even Europe.
Victoria Ridgeway, Director at Pre-Construct Archaeology & Monograph Editor
The grave was disturbed in the 5th Century but the monument remained standing in a ruinous state until the Norman Conquest, when the land, recorded as having ‘pasture, a probable tidal mill and six unfree peasants‘, was given to Bishop Odo of Bayeaux, half-brother of William the Conqueror, but it was not completely deserted in the intervening period:
‘We’ve got tawny owl pellets,’ said Dr Gerrard. ‘The building becomes ruinous and then you’ve got owls living here… it’s the end of the Roman Empire, the mausoleum is abandoned and the owls take up residence – we can’t be too precise about when that was but it would have been somewhere between the 5th and 10th Century.‘
The story continues with the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons – ‘This is where it gets interesting‘ according to Dr Gerrard. ‘You’re in Kent at the forefront of Anglo Saxon migration. It looks like people are coming to this monument and interacting with it in some way but they’re not living there and they’re not burying their dead there‘.
The significant finds from this period suggest that the mausoleum may have revered as a sacred place.
Situated on an elevated terrace with far-reaching views, the mausoleum would have been visible for miles around and is very likely to have been used as a landmark, or navigational aid for people arriving along the river. ‘It’s the 5th Century and water was more important as a means of travel‘, Dr Gerrard explains.
During the medieval period, the area around Grange Farm was dominated by a manorial centre and elements of this structure still stand today.