Historical Archaeology

Foundations of Archaeology Conference Saturday 6th May 2017


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This one day conference will explore the present day legacy of Pitt-Rivers, Colt Hoare and William Cunnington and examine the new archaeological research and fieldwork
which is shedding fresh light on the sites they examined.

TICKET PRICE £18 per person if booked before 31st March 2017 and £23 after. All tickets include Refreshments & Lunch.

Download the foundations-of-archaeology-conference-flyer-6th-may-2017


Colt Hoare quoted in consultation over A303 Tunnel at Stonehenge

As quoted in the Guardian on the 8th February 2016 : –

“English Heritage, the National Trust and Historic England acknowledged the scheme would remove the sight of the A303 from the landscape and would open more of it up to the public.

They said: “The proposed A303 tunnel would remove the majority of the existing damaging road and its traffic from the world heritage site, finally reuniting the north and south sides of this extraordinary ancient landscape and allowing people to enjoy and understand it better.

“It would also allow for the reinstatement of the line of the Stonehenge Avenue, an ancient processional route to the stones. This is the first time that a government scheme to improve the A303 within the Stonehenge landscape has recognised the importance of the avenue.

But Normanton Down Barrows could be a problem. The group was described by the 18th and 19th century archaeologist Sir Richard Colt Hoare as a “noble group – diversified in their forms, perfect in their symmetry and rich in their contents”. Under the current scheme the western portal will be built just 100 metres from them.”


Pitt Rivers’ Models at Salisbury Museum

On Friday 21 October a small group of us squeezed into a rare bit of space in the reserve collections of the Salisbury Museum to view some of the wood and plaster models that Pitt Rivers made of his archaeological sites and his excavations. As with everything Pitt-Rivers, the attention to detail and the presentation of these models are remarkable. The General’s mission to communicate in as many media as possible the importance of his finds in Cranborne Chase is again evident. The models are heavy, especially those carved in solid wood and, as usual, it was estate craftsmen who were trained up to produce them. Some of the models features accurate contour lines (every 2 inches!), and are coloured to represent green sward, topsoil and underlying chalk. Little models of skeletons repose in crouched burials in the bottom of pits and pins mark the find spots of artefacts. Jane Ellis-Schon and the Salisbury Museum have been making special boxes to hold these models, some of which had not seen the light of day for many decades. This is a work in progress and we look forward to hearing whether one of the largest models which has not yet been removed from the stacks might not be of Winkelbury. Jane believes that, in company with many other techniques used to such creative ends by Pitt Rivers, it was his military experience that inspired the construction of these models; they are without parallel in the history of archaeology.

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We are very grateful to Jane to allow us a glimpse of the important resource that the Pitt Rivers collection constitutes, once again making the connections between landscape, archaeology and artefacts that many museums strive to achieve, but not all do.

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Pitt Rivers excavations on Martin Down

After we had finished our walk last Saturday Alex Dedden went to find the Middle Bronze Age settlement/enclosure which had been excavated in 1895 by Pitt Rivers. He kindly emailed the project with what he discovered:

I found the enclosure very easily, although the only visible elements (not too surprising) are the Pitt-Rivers reconstructed banks – about 0.5m high at most, and with significant gaps in several places. However, it is actually visible from the path running SE from the northern end of the car park once you are ~200m along the path – and sits in a gap between the large area of low scrub to the NE of the path and the hedge line at right angles to the path directly ahead. A metre high post also aids location – this sited at the western corner (closest as you walk from the car park). 

Also interesting to look at the various aerial photos – the cursus terminus shows very well on Google maps as a crop mark! Earlier aerial photos show the Grims Ditch running past the long barrow – perhaps these indicate not much deep ploughing in these fields?”


Middle Bronze Age Enclosure on Martin Down