To coincide with The Council for British Archaeology’s Festival of Archaeology (15-30 July), there will be two events where you can find out more about our work on the Central Winchester Regeneration site.
ONLINE: Wednesday 26 July at 2pm on Teams – PCA will join the CWR Archaeology Panel to discuss the project, joined by Keith Wilkinson from the University of Winchester who will have a radiocarbon dating update. There will be a panel discussion and the opportunity to ask questions. The meeting will be recorded, so if you are unable to join on the day, you will be able to watch it back on the Winchester City Council website. To request a link to join the presentation and Q&A email CWRegen@winchester.gov.uk
IN PERSON: Saturday 29 July – Join us for guided tours of Trench 1 (next to Coitbury House). The tours will start and finish at our stall in Abbey Gardens and attendees will get a chance to view some of the finds from the excavation. Meet at the PCA Gazebo in Abbey Gardens anytime between 10am and 1pm.
Katie from PCA Durham is currently on secondment at Birdoswald Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall, at a Historic England and Newcastle University training programme for Archaeology students. Katie is helping supervise the digging and finds processing and will be there until the end of the season on 7th July.
This year they’re digging to the east of the fort (the bathhouse), to north of the fort and Hadrian’s Wall (lots of industrial and domestic activity there), and in the unknown territory west of the fort. All exciting stuff!
This fantastic Roman finger ring with intaglio (which may show the god Mars) came up the first day of opening a trench! Tours of the fort and excavations will take place Monday to Friday 11am and 2pm from June 13 until 7th July.
Last month Tegan Able and Allie Spoletini attended the Pampisford Village Fete with an array of finds. They also took a handling collection, so that people could get up close and personal with the archaeology! Many intrigued people asked some great questions; from children studying Saxons at school, to adults who’d lived in the village all their lives. They had a lovely day and a found it a great opportunity to engage with the public.
A red phone box in Great Yeldham has been repurposed in an inspired way by the community: as a mini museum with a display of finds from our excavation in the village!
Prior to the construction of new homes, PCA undertook an archaeological investigation of the site. Trial trenching revealed artefacts dating from the Mesolithic/Neolithic, Iron Age and Roman periods so a second stage of fieldwork, consisting of three excavation areas, was carried out in the summer of 2021.
The earliest human activity encountered was a shallow pit or natural hollow containing 45 pieces of worked flint, including a bladelet core of Mesolithic/early Neolithic date (very broadly 8000–3000 BC), which also contained fragments of animal bone, charcoal and a few charred cereal grains. The site is close to a stream with a good source of flint pebbles suitable for knapping, and a passing band of hunter-gatherers had found it a good spot to spend time making tools and having a meal on at least one occasion.
Many millennia passed before humans left a further imprint on the site. In the Late Iron Age (100BC to AD43) several ditches were dug as part of a nearby farmstead’s extensive field boundary system. Few artefacts of this period were recovered from the ditches, indicating that the farmstead stood some distance from the site; this was further attested to by the discovery of a group of cremations dating to the same period.
Several of the cremation pits were furnished with grave goods, including fineware pottery vessels and a Chatelaine set, a belt adornment that was typically presented to Roman girls as a ‘coming of age’ gift. The range of grave goods suggests that the people buried here were moderately prosperous with access to markets supplying Roman goods in the years before the Roman invasion.
Around the middle of the 1st century AD, perhaps in the decade immediately following the Roman invasion, the area of the Late Iron Age ditch system and cremations was re-organised. This may have been associated with a change in land ownership, as no attempt was made to respect the location of the cremation cemetery and the new ditch system was set out on a different alignment. There was little evidence for domestic occupation, although a number of pits and postholes may be associated with agricultural activities. However, several of the ditches contained relatively sizeable assemblages of Roman pottery and a small Roman knife was recovered from one feature, suggesting that the ditch system lay close to an area of occupation, probably to the south or west of the site. In the western corner of the site two large Roman extraction pits were investigated (probably dug for clay), which were up to 30m in diameter and up to 2.4m deep. This part of the settlement appears to have fallen out of use in the 2nd century AD.
The process of examining the results of the excavation is currently underway and will be reported on in due course. The excavation has provided a great opportunity to learn about Great Yeldham’s distant past, in an area that has seen limited detailed archaeological investigation.
PCA would like to thank Rose Builders (Properties) Ltd for commissioning and funding the work, Nick Cooke of RPS Group for appointing PCA to undertake the excavation and Teresa O’Connor of Place Services at Essex County Council for monitoring the work and providing archaeological advice and guidance. Finally, a big thank you to Christine Caney and her husband for arranging the display.
Cameron and Maisie attended a careers fair last week, at the Humanities Department of the University of Winchester, to speak to prospective trainees studying there.
Their career stories, insights and advice were much appreciated and described as inspirational and demonstrative of fabulous graduate outcomes by the Uni’s Faculty Employability Adviser. PCA will be attending the next careers day there too.
Last week Sian (Finds, Environmental and Archiving Manager at PCA Cambridge) took part in a ‘Careers Carousel’ event at Swavesey Village College, with a presentation to five classes of Year 9s about archaeology as a career.
‘Form the Future’ is a community interest company set up to help young people discover exciting opportunities for the future. Sian told the students about her background, qualifications, progression, skills and why GCSEs are important!
Kickstart is a scheme implemented by the UK government to help create jobs for young people from the ages of 16-24. Historic England approached us with the scheme and with their assistance, we searched for potential applicants. We employed Lidia Kones via the scheme, who turned out to be such a helpful, quick learner, we offered her a role in the admin side of things for the London office, once the scheme had ended.
My time in Pre-Construct Archaeology has been one of the best experiences in my career. I joined the company as part of ‘Kickstart’. The programme offered six months working experience for young people. The first six months I was working in different departments of the company. The idea behind that, was that by doing that I would be able to gain knowledge about the company, what they do, and how the company runs. When the ‘Kickstart’ programme ended, PCA offered me a permanent part-time position. During this period, I was finishing my degree, therefore, I could not work full time. Throughout my studies, PCA offered me flexibility, as I needed to change my working days and hours.
Working with Pre-Construct Archaeology for the past 17 months allowed me to improve and gain new skills, as well as learning amazing facts about archaeology. Furthermore, the working experience that PCA offered me has enhanced my determination, and prioritisation abilities. Besides that, I had the opportunity to work with incredible and talented colleagues and managers.
On Saturday Katie from PCA Durham went Ebchester, County Durham, to hold a finds display for a community group: The Friends of Vindomora.
Vindomora is the name of the Roman fort directly beneath the village of Ebchester. The group invited us for a tour of the village and Roman remains – the people who owned the farm were kind enough to let us in to see their very own hypocaust in their back garden! The group have lots of plans to encourage more awareness of the history of the village and we hope to stay involved in any way we can!