LAMAS Online Lecture - 8th December 2020
PCA excited to be involved in the Stonehenge A303 Upgrade
New Monograph Released
PCA is pleased to announce the publication of a new monograph. Produced jointly with Oxford Archaeology, the publication of ‘Bridging the Past: Life in Medieval and Post-Medieval Southwark’ marks the culmination of OAPCA’s archaeological involvement in Network Rail’s Thameslink Programme. This project has transformed north–south travel through London. The redevelopment included, amongst other works, the rebuilding of London Bridge and Blackfriars stations and the construction of a new viaduct through Borough Market in Southwark.
Excavations for the Thameslink project at Borough Viaduct and London Bridge Station have provided important new insights into the development of Southwark from the Saxon period up to the 19th century. The landscape of islands and waterways that characterised Roman Southwark was transformed through the 1st and 2nd millennia AD, as new areas were reclaimed for settlement. Lower-lying zones nonetheless remained prone to flooding throughout much of the medieval period and the management of drainage channels was clearly a significant concern.
This new 2-volume publication focuses on the post-Roman evidence from the area of Borough Market and London Bridge Station. A substantial ditch identified at Borough Market, and contemporary late Saxon features, may relate to Southwark’s Saxon burh defences. Occupation increased throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods and this publication charts the development of the network of property boundaries, streets and alleys associated with that occupation. Evidence for almshouses and St Thomas’s Hospital were also revealed. Historically a focus of craft and industry, the archaeological evidence from Southwark revealed in these excavations, includes evidence for bone working, tanning, leather working, pin making and clay tobacco pipe manufacture. Timbers reused in channels revetments excavated beneath London Bridge Station provide evidence of woodworking techniques used in timber-framed houses and boats of the 12th to 18th centuries.
This is the second monograph in a series of four, details of which are listed below, all available from PCA’s website:
Thameslink Monograph Series No. 1: A Bath House, Settlement and Industry on Roman Southwark‘s North Island; Excavations along Thameslink Borough Viaduct and at London Bridge Station by Victoria Ridgeway, Edward Biddulph and Joanna Taylor
Thameslink Monograph Series No. 2: Bridging the Past: Life in Medieval and Post-Medieval Southwark; Excavations along Thameslink Borough Viaduct and at London Bridge Station by Amelia Fairman, Steven Teague and Jonathan Butler
Thameslink Monograph Series No. 3: Living and Dying in Southwark 1587–1831; Excavations along Thameslink Borough Viaduct and at London Bridge Station by Louise Loe, Kate Brady, Lisa Brown, Mark Gibson and Kirsty Smith
Thameslink Monograph Series No. 4: From Blackfriars to Bankside; Medieval and later riverfront archaeology along the route of Thameslink, central London by Elizabeth Stafford and Steven Teague
Former Welbourne Centre Archaeology Open Day
10th February 2020
The open day at the former Welbourne Centre in Tottenham Hale last week was an enormous success. 180 school children visited in the morning and PCA’s Becky Haslam did a fantastic job conducting the tours and providing stimulating talks to the school groups. A special mention goes to the school children – they were a credit to their schools, so well behaved and engaged.
In addition, over 100 people took the opportunity to visit in the afternoon. One visitor, Jill Hummerstone said, “Thanks so much for all your hard work today showing the public your site. My students from Walthamstow WEA Archaeology class and City Lit Archaeology of London course really enjoyed visiting, especially handling the finds, hearing from the experts and seeing archaeologists at work!”
PCA would like to thank everyone involved in the open day and for all those who took the time to come and see some amazing archaeology.
PCA's Latest Monograph Release
27th January 2020
PCA’s 22nd monograph ‘Elite residence to manufacturing centre –
Excavations on the site of the Archbishop of York’s Palace and the Battersea Enamelling Works, at the former Price’s Candle Factory, Regent and Grove Wharves and Bridges Wharf, Battersea’ has just been released and is now available to buy from our Publications page here.
Masters Studentship Opportunity - University of Reading
23rd January 2020
Over the past two years Eniko Hudak (PCA’s Roman Pottery Specialist & Finds Manager) has been involved with MOLA-Headland Infrastructure’s (MHI) A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon excavations as part of the team of Roman Pottery Specialists.
One of the many great outcomes of the project is the availability of funding for additional research and training and as part of this, Eniko and Adam Sutton from MOLA Northampton developed Eniko’s research idea into a Masters Studentship at Reading University which is fully funded by MHI.
This is now being advertised by the University and applications are open until 1st May 2020. It includes a 3-month placement at MOLA Northampton supervised by Adam, and supported by Eniko – the Masters will be supervised by Prof. Mike Fulford, Adam, and Eniko.
If you are interested in finding out more about this wonderful opportunity, click here.
Current Archaeology Live! 2020
22nd January 2020
Come and hear Jenny Proctor (Regional Manager of PCA Durham) presenting at Current Archaeology Live! 2020, to be held on 28-29 February 2020, at the University of London’s Senate House.
Jenny’s talk is on Saturday 29th February and comes under the category of Researching Roman Britain. Her talk is called ‘A tale of two farms on each side of the Wall’. Tickets for this exciting event are now on sale – click here for more details.
21st November 2019
Royal Archaeological Institute and Roman Society Conference 2019
Dr James Gerrard will be talking at the Royal Archaeological Institute and Roman Society Conference 2019 about PCA’s excavation of a Late Iron Age/Early Roman Enclosure and a late Roman villa ahead of the construction of the Bedale, Aiskew and Leeming Bar Bypass, North Yorkshire.
The conference will be held from the evening of Friday 29th November to Sunday 1st December at Chancellor’s Hall, University of London and will focus on Romans in North-East England: Recent Research. For more details and to book tickets click here.
18th November 2019
Cambridge Antiquarian Society Autumn Conference
PCA Cambridge Supervisor Tom Revell will be undertaking his first talk for the Cambridge Antiquarian Society’s Autumn Conference this Saturday, 23rd November.
In addition to Tom’s talk about Iron Age and Romano British remains at Balsham, there is a packed programme of speakers and PCA will also have a stand containing finds from recent excavations in Cambridgeshire.
Tickets cost £10.00 at the door (£5 ‘digger rate’ with CIfA or CSCS card). The conference will be held at Room LG19, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, 10 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DZ. More details can be found here: CAS AUTUMN CONFERENCE 2019
Barrack Street, Norwich - Open Day
14th November 2019
An open day was held by PCA on Thursday 7th November at the ongoing archaeological excavations on Barrack Street, Norwich, in line with PCA’s mission to reach-out to the public. This was organised by the Norwich Office project manager Peter Crawley on behalf of, and with the input of Hill and RPS. The open day was well-attended, despite being held during the week, with approximately 80 people visiting on the day.
The following information was given to the visitors during the tour and serves as background to the project:-‘’The project at Barrack Street has presented evidence for the earliest medieval growth of the city as a new suburb through to the final use of the site as Jarrolds’ printing works. The riverside site shows evidence for land use in what would have originally been unfavourable marshlands at the edge of the medieval city of Norwich. These marshlands were subsequently reclaimed as elements of the increasingly prosperous settlement encroached and began to take shape. The site shows evidence for the nearby Whitefriars-Carmelite Friary, an order which controlled a large stretch of land to the north east of Norwich, and which perhaps encompassed the site. The later medieval city wall transected the site, with excavation adjacent to a newly found segment of wall at the site, showing evidence for the method of construction and its original form. The excavation areas have also evidenced episodes of growth and contraction of settlement within the city. The later use of the site was largely for industrial purpose, with brewing and malting a significant presence, seemingly utilising the resources of the nearby River Wensum, but also with a large area of Victorian tenement housing, which was cleared after World War Two’’.
The open day consisted of a series of guided tours, expertly delivered by Jon House, the Senior Supervisor of the project, plus a display of the finds and an accompanying slideshow in the main Hill site office. Tea and/or coffee for the guests was supplied by Hill. Many thanks to Hill for providing refreshments and a venue.
The tours were well received by all the invited guests, who Peter believes appreciated the attention to the detail, clarity of presentation and dry gallows humour, the site work being undertaken during and after a month of almost continuous rainfall.
Attendees included PCA visitors, PCA Directors Gary and Josephine, Mark Hinman Director and Eastern regional manager, Sian O’Neil Finds and Environmental Manager, who presented the finds display and Rory Fisher of the Pampisford Office who operated the gate and directed people towards the tour. Richard Mortimer represented RPS and contributed useful information to the tours.
Other attendees included:- Lara Emerson, senior planner at Norwich City Council with colleagues; Phillip Bodie of Fielden and Mawson Architects, who are responsible for the design of the scheme at the site; John Percival, James Albone and Steve Hickling, (all local monitors of Norfolk Historic Environment Service); Jo Clarke (Senior Lecturer), Staff and students of the University of East Anglia’s Archaeology Department; local archaeologists and specialists Alice Lyons, Sarah Percival, Sue Anderson, David Adams, Mick Boyle, Matt Williams (Local Geologist), Sophie Cabot (Young Archaeologists Club) and Karl Hanson (Parker Planning). There were numerous people who attended from prominent local societies, including The Norwich Society, The Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Research Group (NAHRG) and the Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society, amongst many others.
Peter would like to thank all involved with organising the open day and in particular the excavation team for their great efforts in the rain on the day (it’s not pleasant being stared at when working!) and throughout the project for working in extremely trying-wet conditions. Many thanks to all who came to see this waterlogged part of Norwich!
11th November 2019
PCA staff working at an airfield in Kent joined staff and local veterans in a poignant Remembrance Day service at 11am today (11/11/19).
24th October 2019
Sadly, we must bid farewell to Dorothy Prince-Davis next week as she will be retiring after over 15 years of working for PCA as part of the administration team.
Although Dorothy is retiring, she won’t be putting her feet up as she plans to use her time volunteering at her local hospital and will also be fitting in lots of travel. Enjoy your retirement Dorothy and thank you for all your hard work over the years – you will be missed!
22nd October 2019
Watch out for PCA’s team of archaeologists who will be featuring in the last episode of ‘Inside the Tower of London’.
The team uncover some fascinating finds which include the discovery of some complete skeletal remains buried outside of Henry VIII’s chapel. Catch it tonight (Tuesday 22nd October) at 9pm on Channel 5.
9th September 2019
If you commute through London Bridge Station or happen to be passing through on a day out in the ‘Big Smoke’, take time to pause and look at the new display of some of the finds from the OA-PCA Thameslink London Bridge excavations which are now on display in the concourse (conveniently located beneath one of the departure boards, next to The Body Shop!).
If you are interested in finding out more about the discoveries from the excavations undertaken in this fascinating part of London, go to the Publications page of our website where you can buy monographs from OA-PCA’s Thameslink Archaeological Series http://www.pre-construct.com/publications-2/
14th August 2019
Pre-Construct Archaeology Limited (PCA) invites applications of the post of Archaeologist (Grade 3) based at the company’s head office in south-east London.
We are expecting an extremely busy autumn, and primarily the site work would be at sites in the central and Greater London area.
We are looking for applications, via CV, from candidates who possess the following:
• At least three months experience in commercial archaeology in the urban environment
• Use of single-context recording methods
• Valid CSCS cards
• CIfA membership
• Clean driving license
• First-aid training
If you are interested in being considered please send your current CV by email only to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are expecting to require field staff from early to mid-September 2019, and to offer an initial full-time contract of 6 months. A probationary period of 3 months applies to all new staff. We will seek to extend contracts for staff beyond initial contracts if the work is available. Gross pay for non-trainee field archaeologists at Grade 3 will be £451.50 pw (£23,478 pa).
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 we may not be able to reply to every email, and we will not necessarily confirm 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.
5th August 2019
One of PCA’s archaeological excavation display boards has been used as a prime example of public dissemination in a piece by Norman Redhead of Greater Manchester Archaeological Advisory Service about ‘Research, Impact and Legacy’. The article, which features on P26 of the 2019 CIfA Year Book and Directory ‘explores ways in which archaeologists can engage with the public and local societies in planning led archaeology’. The board for 74-88 Great Ancoats Street, Manchester (which can be viewed here) was created by PCA to provide a permanent display in the new building and details the findings from the 2016 excavation on behalf of Mulbery City.
The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists 2019 Yearbook and Directory.
New Monograph Out Now!
31st July 2019
We are pleased to announce that our latest publication in the OAPCA Thameslink Series is available to purchase today from the Publications page of our website.
The Thameslink Project provided the opportunity to investigate the archaeology of a broad swathe of the north island of Roman Southwark revealing details of the development and occupation of Roman Southwark’s north island including early clay and timber buildings, extensive burnt horizons, interpreted as the residues of the Boudican revolt and redevelopment, with many well-appointed new buildings constructed in stone. A substantial masonry bath house, largely preserved in situ and now scheduled, represents one of the most significant findings of the project.
This monograph, ‘ A Bath House, Settlement and Industry on Roman Southwark’s North Island: Excavations along the route of Thameslink Borough Viaduct and at London Bridge Station’, presents the archaeological sequence encountered, set alongside themed discussions which focus on aspects of the settlement’s development, chronology, infrastructure and economy, while specialist artefactual and ecofactual sections present the significant and extensive finds assemblages in detail. To purchase a copy of this superb new monograph, click here.
New Director Appointed
29th July 2019
Victoria Ridgeway takes up her new position today as a Director of PCA. Vicki joined PCA in 1995 and alongside her role as Head of Post-Excavation, she will now assume the role of Director.
PCA Warwick Is Moving!
4th July 2019
Please note that from 29th July 2019, PCA Warwick will have moved to its new office. The address is:
2 Plestowes Barn,
CBA East Event - September 2019
The Council of British Archaeology in the East is holding an event to celebrate the CBA’s 75th Anniversary. It is on
Saturday 28th September 2019 at Ipswich IP-City Centre, 1 Bath Street, Ipswich. For details of the event and for a booking form, click here: CBA Event Conference (1)
Staff from the Newark office have been involved in carrying out historic building recording at Helpringham in Lincolnshire. Manor Farmhouse, the subject of the survey, is a listed building described in the citation as late 17th century, altered in the 19th century. However, there has been a lack of clarity with the dating and to address this a programme of dendrochronology was required.
Tree ring specialist, Robert Howard of the Nottingham Tree-Ring Dating Laboratory, visited the farmhouse and took a series of samples from various timbers in the building. Many of the examined timbers had sapwood, with several retaining full sapwood which allowed the tree felling dates to be identified. Several timbers in the roof were found to have the same felling date, 1704.
At first glance, comparing this to the suggested dating in the listed building citation, this may appear to indicate an early 18th century re-roofing of the building. However, the PCA staff undertaking the building recording identified a long-obscured datestone in the building – positioned high on the gable of the main range but covered over by an extension of probably late 18th-early 19th century date. This datestone is inscribed in Latin ‘MDCCV’ – 1705. The correspondence of this inscribed date with the chronology indicated by the tree-ring dating is a splendid validation of the accuracy of dendrochronology as a dating technique.
Cambridge Office News - June 2019
The time has come around again for PCA Cambridge to host four Sawston Village College Students for two weeks. This year, one week into their placement we accepted an extra two students as their placement was no longer able to host them. As usual we have put together a series of talks by various members of staff to give a flavour of the sort of work that archaeologists do and the skills and knowledge that are required. This includes stratigraphy, osteology, environmental sampling, finds illustration, GPS and CAD. We even managed to squeeze in a field trip to a local community dig which Mark Hinman (Director and Regional Manager) is directing in his free time!
On the 12th June a group of students from the local primary school came to visit PCA Cambridge excavations at Bawdsey, Suffolk, where they enjoyed a tour of the site from Supervisor Tom Revell. They also had a go at metal detecting with our resident metal detectorist Dave Curry! There will be a follow up talk from Sîan O’Neill at the school in the next couple of weeks.
Loves Farm Talk - St Neots Local History Society
Director and Regional Manager (Cambridge and Norwich) Mark Hinman spoke at Loves Farm House for the St Neots Local History Society about “The Archaeology of Loves Farm” on Friday 14th June. There was an attendance of approximately 100 residents, from which we have gained a new volunteer for the Cambridge office.
PCA Cambridge has made headway with the deposition of project archives in East Anglia over the past few months. Forty nine project archives from the Cambridge office and two from the Newark office were deposited with the Cambridge County Council Historic Environment Team (CCCHET). They will continue to deposit other projects in the near future.
29th May 2019
The National Trust at Sutton Hoo presents ‘Fashion of Archaeology’…
The National Trust at Sutton Hoo are preparing for a temporary exhibition and need your help!
They will be delving through the wardrobes of archaeologists both past and present in this temporary exhibition. Whether practical, corporate or personal, each item has a story to tell. Interested?
To learn more about how you can submit photographs or items of clothing to the exhibition, go to nationaltrust.org.uk/suttonhoo or please email email@example.com. A copy of the submission form can be downloaded here.
Fulham Palace Opening
23rd May 2019
Last night, Director Chris Mayo and Post-excavation Manager Jon Butler attended a private view of Fulham Palace including the new museum, restored courtyard and garden to celebrate the completion of the restoration project. PCA was the archaeological contractor engaged for Stage 1 (2005-6) and Stage 2 (2010-11). We have also provided specialist support to Fulham Place since 2012 over the course of three community archaeology projects, and during the recent, final Stage 3 project.
The Stage 3 project has seen the creation of a new museum space which highlights the archaeology of the site and its fascinating garden history. PCA is delighted to be thanked on the museum’s walls. The extent of our work with the Palace is illustrated in the plan of investigations completed over the last 15 years.
The transformation work at Fulham Palace is a credit to the Trust, its dedicated team, and all who have worked tirelessly on the project. PCA is proud to have contributed, and we recommend that people pay a visit. https://www.fulhampalace.org/
New Directors Appointed
Succession planning is an important part of the life-cycle of most businesses and PCA is pleased to announce the creation of four new company Directors. These are being rolled out progressively over the next 6 months starting in May with Mark Hinman and Christopher Mayo, currently Regional Manager of the PCA Cambridge office and Project Manager at the PCA London office respectively, followed in three months by current Publications and Monographs Manager Victoria Ridgeway and three months after this by Helen Hawkins currently a Project Manager at the PCA London office. All four have demonstrable skills, and understanding of Pre-Construct Archaeology and its business ethos, and considerable enthusiasm for the challenges ahead. The ‘old-guard’, and remaining original Directors, Gary Brown, Josephine Brown and Peter Moore very much look forward to working alongside them.
Separately, and with immediate effect, Victoria Ridgeway has been appointed as the Company’s Head of Post-Excavation. Vicki has been with PCA since 1995, and has had a variety of post-excavation roles within it since 2004, and as such she is the ideal person to take on this role from Frank, with whom she is liaising closely to ensure a seamless switch from one to the other.
The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Project, Westminster - RICS 2019 London Project of the Year!
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Project in Westminster, for which PCA undertook the archaeological works wins RICS London Project of the Year 2019. Click here for more details.
Resignation of Director
After twenty one years of dedication and hard work on the Board of Pre-Construct Archaeology as well as fulfilling his key operational roles of being Head of Post-Excavation and Head of Health and Safety for the company Dr Frank Meddens has decided to step away from all such responsibilities and has resigned both from the Board and as Head of Post-Excavation.
The last few years have been particularly hard on Frank, with firstly being diagnosed with, and then successfully fighting off, a rare form of cancer for which treatment is still on-going, and, in February 2018, losing his beloved wife Beverley (Bev) after she succumbed to cancer, which itself was diagnosed at a time when she was supporting Frank through his own struggles. Inevitably these two major events, coupled with the stress of Directorial and Managerial responsibilities, have proved too onerous and Frank, after a year of quiet contemplation made the decision to step down.
However, stepping down does not mean stepping away as Frank will remain with PCA on a part-time basis as a contributor to the post-excavation team and will assist all PCA offices as required.
A Beaver Tooth from Winchester
A team from PCA’s Winchester office have been excavating at Barton Farm, on the northern edge of the Hampshire city, since January 2015. This exciting site has produced a remarkable array of archaeological finds, with large quantities of pottery, animal bone and other artefacts recovered from features dating from the Neolithic period through to the 19th century. But one recent find, a Beaver tooth (incisor), excavated from a pit dated to the later Neolithic or early Bronze Age (3000-1500 BC), has a been a particular talking point.
The Eurasian Beaver (Castor fiber), which was originally native to the UK, has been extinct in England for over 400 years, but these animals would once have been found across the country. Although relatively rare, artefactual evidence for the exploitation of Beavers, including teeth, bones and fragments of gnawed wood have been recovered from a number of prehistoric sites in Southern England, with particular concentrations recovered from wetland areas. Butchery marks on the bones show that beavers were used for their skins as well as their meat.
Interestingly, at Barton Farm, there was no sign of any other part of the beaver’s skeleton within the pit that produced the tooth, suggesting that just this item had been kept. It is unclear why the tooth was retained, but the piece, which is a striking, bright orange colour, something characteristic of the species, has unusual patterns of wear; a fact which has lead PCA’s archaeological animal bone specialist, Kevin Rielly, to suggest the item had perhaps been kept as either a keepsake or to be reused as an ornament or tool. Examples of such uses are known; Beaver incisors recovered from grave assemblages within Early Bronze Age barrows near Stonehenge, may have been selected for their ornamental value, whilst anthropological evidence indicates that beaver incisors can be hafted in to a handle for use as a woodworking tool.
Another Award for PCA Monograph!
Well done yet again to all involved in the production of ‘An Immense and Exceedingly Commodious Goods Station; The Archaeology and History of the Great Northern Railway’s Goods Yard at King’s Cross, 1849 to the Present Day’ as it has been awarded ‘Archaeology Book of the Year’ at the RCHS Transport History Book Awards 2019. Becky and Guy were present to receive the award at the ceremony in Furness Abbey.
If you would like to purchase your own copy, it is available to buy on our Publications page, along with our other monographs.
Since July 2017 PCA has made numerous visits to Bristol to undertake targeted phases of archaeological investigation during the reconfiguration of the Temple Circus Gyratory system close to Bristol Broadmead station, recording the medieval and post-medieval development of the area. As the scheme nears completion we will shortly be returning to undertake the final phase of archaeological investigation, focussing primarily on the detailed recording of a southern section of the Portwall, the 13th-century city wall. Click here for more information on the scheme.
Newcastle University Student Placements - 2019
Rowan and Ella joining pottery sherds from different contexts within the same pit
It has become a bit of a PCA tradition to host four Newcastle university students over the Easter vacation, in our London offices. This year we have been joined by Abbie, who is assisting with processing and sorting of environmental samples, and Ellie who has been recording details such as root etching on animal bones. We are also delighted to welcome Ella and Rowan to our new Chester-le-Street offices – they have been looking for (and finding) cross-context joins across a Roman pottery assemblage and sticking the pieces together. All are working really hard and hopefully enjoying their time with us too.
Look out for two more of our student placements in a couple of weeks’ time.
Abbie processing environmental samples
Ellie recording animal bone
An exhibition was held on Saturday 19th January presenting the archaeological findings from PCA’s site at the Boleyn Ground, formerly West Ham Football Club’s ground, in London Borough of Newham. Click the button for a news article about the site in the Newham Recorder.
2019 Civic Trust Awards Winner and 2019 Civic Trust AABC Conservation Awards Winner!
Kicking off the new year with some great news! PCA was part of a winning team selected for an award for their work on the Westminster Abbey Triforium project. The project was nominated as a 2019 Civic Trust Awards Winner @CTAwards as well as a 2019 Civic Trust AABC Conservation Awards Winner @CTAConservation. The awards were announced at the Civic Trust Awards ceremony on the 1st March 2019. A full list of the winners and further details of the awards can be found via the link below.Civic Trust Awards 2019
Winter bee boles discovered in tudor cellars underneath the Painted Hall in Greenwich.
Despite several previous archaeological investigations in the vicinity of the Tudor palace, which once stood in the area now covered by the former Royal Naval College and National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, very little physical evidence for it has actually been recovered. Instead a very interesting discovery was made. A Watching Brief by Tanya Jones of Pre-Construct Archaeology Limited was anticipated to continue this trend during an restoration works at the Painted Hall, for the Greenwich Foundation. The site lies within the grounds of the Palace of Placentia, originally constructed in 1443 and subsequently enlarged and altered throughout the Tudor period. It was mostly demolished by Charles II.
The watching brief monitored the lifting of floors and their make-up deposits and initially found 18th and 19th walls and flues, but then a sunken 15m2 room was found towards the north-eastern end of the Painted Hall undercroft. Analysis confirmed that the three extant walls of the sunken room were constructed from small Henrician bricks while the neatly laid floor was constructed of rows of over 100 tiles and 100 paving bricks. The preservation of glazes on the tiles varied considerably but most were plain yellow over a white slip, while a few were glazed black or dark green. Five stone pavers in various sizes were located at the south-western end of the room, possibly close to an entrance and a contemporary stepped feature was also found at the north-western end of the room. The tiles have been dated to the late 15th to early 16th century, but the same paving bricks at Hampton Court are thought to be earlier, dated to the 1520’s to 1540’s. We are currently assuming a construction date of between 1510 and 1550.
The sunken room was visually and historically interesting enough for the Greenwich Foundation, and their architects, Hugh Broughton Architects, to immediately consider how it could be made visible to the visiting public, a challenging feat considering its location was just at the proposed visitor entrance!
However, as the watching brief continued north east of the cellar it revealed first a Tudor wall and then the deeper floors of parts of two vaulted cellars which would originally have had an internal height of about 2m. To date only the interior of one cellar has been revealed, but the external west and south wall of the second has been exposed. Both of these have niches built into them, four smaller ones in the western wall and three larger ones with chamfered divides and horizontal grooves near the base of the niches in the southern wall, possibly for trays. Although the construction of the cellars is stratigraphically earlier than the glazed and tiled floor they most likely to be contemporary. On seeing photographs of these beautiful niches they were immediately identified by staff member Kari Bower as being “Bee Boles” and within a short time she had found the documentary evidence for Tudor bee boles in cellars used for the storing of skeps (straw/wicker hives) during winter.
Sheltering bees from extremes of weather, including the winter months is probably as old as bee keeping itself and helps the bees to conserve their energy and food stores. Skeps were an early form of hive made of straw or wicker, but the sheltering of skeps in walls (bee boles) is almost unique to Britain and Ireland, while bee boles constructed in brick walls is concentrated in Kent. While the majority of datable examples are from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Kent has several dating to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, three of which are in cellars. (See footnote) The earliest printed reference to wintering bees indoors was published by Gerrard Malynes in 1622 and with a bee wintering instruction by Samuel Hartlib in 1655 which might be taken to refer to using a cellar or an outbuilding.
The public access entrance at the Painted Hall in Greenwich is now subject to a redesign to allow both the tiled floor and the cellars with the bee boles to be viewed by the visiting public. Further uncovering of the structures will be required to maximise what can be viewed and interpreted, which will involve further archaeological investigation and recording. As probably a unique opportunity to view Tudor cellars for the winter protection of skeps in bee boles, this promises to be an exciting exhibit.
Exciting excavations at Swan Street/Harper Road, Southwark.
As you might have noticed, there has been a bit of brouhaha regarding the finding of the Roman period sarcophagus in the course of the recent excavations by PCA on a site at the junction of Swan Street and Harper Road in Southwark. However, unless you looked very hard at some of the photographs you would be hard pushed to know PCA had anything to do with it or that there was anything else found other than the sarcophagus. We are now able to provide a bit more detail on the findings at this fascinating site.
The excavation team from PCA, ably led by Ireneo Grosso, were appointed by CgMs, on behalf of Galliard Homes. The excavations were undertaken in phases over several months and were dovetailed more-or-less seamlessly between the demolition and initial construction works.
The site is located within an area referred to as the ‘Southern Cemetery’, although there is no actual evidence that there is a single unified cemetery but probably a number of discrete burial grounds on the periphery of Roman occupation. To date approximately 500 Roman period burials have been recovered from the Southern Cemetery area, but until recently not one of them was a stone sarcophagus. Interesting burials abound including the famous Harper Road “princess” and high status mausolea along Great Dover Street, That has clearly now changed.
Sadly however, the PCA team were not the first to have discovered the sarcophagus since it was first buried, but it was the first to do it in a controlled and rigorous fashion. It appears that during the process of quarrying chalk from a possible ‘mausoleum’ structure adjacent to the sarcophagus in the 18th century, the massive stone lid prised off and, we assume, the contents at least partially robbed. The lid lay cracked and misaligned, as it was left following this rather less painstaking 18th century investigation!
The sarcophagus itself measures approximately 2.4m long, 75cm wide and 65 cm high and (at least) filled with earth. The significant challenge, given that it was directly on the piling line, was to lift the sarcophagus (which already has several significant cracks) out of the excavation area. This has been managed successfully by a specialist team including Clivedon Conservation, and the sarcophagus has been taken to the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre, where the fill will be excavated under controlled conditions.
The sarcophagus was by no means the only significant finding of the excavation. A previously unrecorded compacted gravel road, at least 7m wide and flanked on the west side at least by large ditches cut across the site on an approximately NNE-SSW orientation. Roads of this size are considered by the doyen of Roman roads, Ivan Margary, to be in the most important class of roads. It is conceivable, but not proved, that this was part of the elusive London to Chichester road known as Stane Street.
If it was Stane Street it is on a different alignment and a little to the east of that traditionally held. However, our understanding of the road infrastructure of Roman Southwark is improving, with many more roads identified within the areas of occupation and the Harper Road example may be another one of these.
Towards the western limit of excavation were the chalk foundations of a masonry structure against which the sarcophagus abutted. The structure was parallel to the road, and given this location and relationship, has been interpreted as a mausoleum. These were relatively high status funerary monuments and only previously identified in Southwark at Great Dover Street, which itself is roughly on the alignment of the Roman London to Richborough road.
Moving forward our next steps will be excavating the fills of the coffin. Has it been plundered or and its contents relatively intact? Keep an eye out for further updates on the excavation of the remarkable contents of this extraordinary discovery which has already caused a flurry of excitement in the press..
- BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-40641846
- Southwark Council http://www.southwark.gov.uk/news/2017/jul/extremely-rare-roman-sarcophagus-lifted-from-ancient-southwark-burial-site
- The Times https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/roman-sarcophagus-unearthed-at-building-site-near-borough-market-southwark-c7nblh3pb
- Evening Standard http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/babys-bones-and-ancient-sarcophagus-found-at-borough-market-building-site-a3590591.html
- Archaeology http://www.archaeology.org/news/5743-170718-london-roman-sarcophagus
Due to continued growth and our commitment to deliver projects nationwide, PCA is thrilled to announce the opening of two new offices in the Midlands, providing our clients with greater regional coverage and professional advice second to none.
Kevin Trott, formerly PCA Midlands Regional Manager, will now lead the new PCA Newark office, where he will continue to successfully manage projects through to fruition with the support of his highly experienced and motivated team.
Tim Bradley, Associate Director, formerly based in our London office is delighted to be heading up the new PCA Warwick office. Tim has been with PCA since 2000, over the years he has built strong links with both clients and archaeological curators across the Midlands and South East regions. He has vast experience in managing a wide range of projects from complex urban regeneration, greenfield developments to industrial sites.
Both Kevin and Tim are here to assist you NOW with any heritage requirements that you have, at whatever stage you are in the planning process. Their contact details are below.
T: 01636 370 410
T: 01926 485 490
The expansion continues…new premises in Norfolk!
In addition to the opening of our Newark and Warwick offices, we are also excited to declare that we are now able to provide professional heritage services from our new Norwich branch. For any assistance please contact