Hanson: metal weights (sinker left, sounding lead right)
5 cm5 cm
Lafarge Tarmac et weights or ‘hag stones’: n
1 cm1 cm
Two metal weights were found by the, one from area 240 on the eastcoast and the other from area 473 in theEast English Channel. The weight from theeast coast is thought to be a sinker – as in‘hook, line and sinker’ – and is a lead weightused to sink a fishing line to the bottom of the sea or riverbed. The weight from area473 is a sounding lead – used to gauge thedepth of water below a ship. These wereused in various forms for around 2,000 yearsuntil the invention of more moderntechnologies for depth sounding.Conversely, CEMEX’s reportedthe discovery of a fishing float from area 319on the east coast. Found with a smallassemblage of other finds (including animalbone and fossilised teeth) this cork floatwould have been attached to the top of fishing nets to keep them hanging uprightin the water column. This example has avertical slit through the side of the find,showing where the broken float has becomedetached from the net to end up adriftin the sea.
Arco ArunSand Fulmar
The 2012-2013 reporting year has seen thediscovery of four net or line weights and onefishing float.Jamie Wallis, at Greenwich wharf,discovered these two perforated stones.Spotting these amongst dredged aggregateshows a real dedication to our heritage andvery keen eyes. These are made of flint, asedimentary rock which forms in gaps withinthe matrix of another rock, such as chalk.The holes seen here were created naturallywhen the stones formed millions of yearsago, but at some stage in the past someonehas utilised this natural feature to turn theminto line or net weights. Though neitherstone is especially heavy on its own, eachweighs enough to sink a fishing line or toweight the edge of a net alongside otherstones. It is not possible to provide a datefor the use of these specific stones, as stoneshave been used as fishing weights from thePalaeolithic to the modern day. They couldhave been employed as net weights at anypoint during the last 50,000 years.In the past, stones with a natural hole havesometimes been referred to as hag stonesas they were thought to protect the bearerfrom the evil influence of witches. WessexArchaeology hopes that the stones will beeffective in keeping staff at Greenwich safeand free from the influence of evil whilstthe stones are displayed at the wharf.
Hanson: sounding lead
Hag stones, sinkers and floats
CEMEX: fishing float