On 1 August, our surveying and geophysics volunteers, together with David and Nathalie from Winchester University, paid a final visit to the Wor barrow, equipped with ground penetrating radar and surveying equipment. This time we were not looking so deep down but operating with antennae which produce a shallower signal and better definition. We also covered some of the ground that had already been subjected to magnetic survey, hence providing a comparative picture that is often more satisfactory than employing a single technique. We were all mindful that this was our final geophysics day and this was marked by a glass of champagne thoughtfully provided by one of our volunteers. After an early shower followed by a drying wind, the combine harvesters were working hard around us to get in the harvest, providing an interesting juxtaposition between our resource procurement in the landscape today and that of the builders of the Neolithic funerary monument we were examining.
A walk, led by Nick Cowen and held on Wednesday 6 September, will follow in the footsteps of one of the fathers of archaeology – William Cunnington (1754-1810). This is an additional walk to the one over the same route held on 27 July which has sold out.
The morning will be centered on Iron Age field systems and Bronze Age barrows, the latter investigated by Cunnington and one of the other founding fathers, Sir Richard Colt Hoare. There are spectacular landscape views and the opportunity to walk down a dry valley where there is usually no public access (total of 4km of easy walking). The afternoon will focus on the village of Heytesbury with its Cunnington and Parker connections. The Parkers, father and son, were the ones who did the spade work.
William Cunnington was a self-educated merchant who developed an interest in the rich archaeological landscape around his home village of Heytesbury, where he both lived and worked. In contrast to the vast majority of antiquarians of the time, Cunnington realised that to fully understand the barrows which fascinated him, they should be excavated and recorded carefully and methodically. Beginning his work around 1798, his initial investigations were self-funded, but increasingly they attracted the interest of a succession of wealthy patrons, including Sir Richard Colt Hoare (1758-1838) of Stourhead.
This walk is limited to 20 people, therefore early booking is recommended. Email firstname.lastname@example.org/tel: 01747 870810.
On Thursday 16 March a group of volunteers explored the trackways and other landscape archaeological features in the vicinity of Stockton Camp. We examined the large circular feature in Stockton Woods with its entrance, or at any rate gap, to the North – also the side with the most pronounced ditch and bank
Not far to the South and very close to the A303 we followed a section of Grim’s Ditch and pondered why this linear feature should make 2 sharp 90 degree turns in quick succession for no apparent topographical reason.
We also considered the ancient trackways which meet just to the West of Stockton Camp, one traversing directly North South from the Wylye to the Nadder Valley and the second traversing from the North-West to the South East. In both cases, whenever the trackway encountered a pronounced gradient the effect of many centuries of passage and consequent erosion had produced a sunken or hollow profile. In the case of the valley crossing at Sherrington Pond this actually produced multiple sunken profiles on either side of the valley, a common occurrence on the chalk. In the case of the North-South trackway the sunken profile can be seen where the trackway crosses Grim’s ditch just short of the A303. Little frequented today, these trackways were intensively used until relatively recently and may well have their origins in prehistory. Ironically, the Roman road, dating to the same period as Stockton Camp, could not be observed anywhere on the ground in the area we covered.
For those of you who enjoy fieldwork and any newcomers (no experience necessary), there are two further days of fieldwork on our sites with Winchester University in 2017. Please get in touch with Phil if you would like to book a place: email@example.com
Stockton Earthworks Thursday 16th March 10.30 am to 4.00 pm – Surveying day mapping the Woodland archaeology adjacent to the Scheduled Ancient Monument. Please come and help us fill in the gaps.
Winkelbury Earthworks Thursday 6th April 10.30 am to 4.00 pm – Earthwork survey using GPS and Total Station on the prehistoric earthworks to the south of the hillfort.
On Friday 2 December a work party of FoA volunteers braved the cold to remove vegetation from both the Wor Barrow and the Bronze Age round barrow immediately to the North of it. Whilst David Blake, the AONB project officer used a chain saw and brush cutter to remove trees and brambles, the other 8 members of the party dragged the wood and brambles over to a bonfire away from the scheduled area. This kept us all fully occupied, and warm, for most of the day. This work will make it possible to do more detailed surveying than has hitherto been carried out on the site and also protect the remaining archaeology from root penetration. This valuable work would simply not be carried out were it not for the FoA project.
We are making a third attempt to do clearance at the Wor Barrow on Friday 2 December (we had to cancel twice because of the weather). Please let us know if you wish to attend by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Six days of geophysical survey at Stockton have now been completed (the last day was 3 August) and we already have an inkling that the results are going to be interesting once they have been fully processed. Both parts of the site were sampled, using resistivity and magnetometry on each part. Every day a dedicated group of volunteers reported present to keep the work rate up. Some volunteers returned several times.
The excellent Royal Commission for Historic Monuments (RCMH) survey, carried out by Carenza Lewis and Hazel Riley already provided an insight into this complex site, but the extra dimension provided by geophysical survey will allow us to see if anything is going on in the areas where there were no humps and bumps to survey. Only one stray find was found: a Black Burnished Ware (BB1) pottery sherd. BB1 is an indigenous, bonfire fired, pottery tradition from the Poole harbour area which, under Roman occupation, became a ware encountered as far away as Hadrian’s Wall, as a result of supply contracts with the Roman army.
Inquisitive cattle were the only real difficulty we met with on the site, until the stockman suggested we hold our measuring tapes up in front of the cattle to simulate electric fencing. A combination of grazing and mechanical thistle removal provided a good ground surface for geophysical survey. We move on to Wor Barrow later in the month.