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THE TDP NEWSLETTER
Here comes the sun
Welcome to the Summer edition of the TDP Newsletter. After a long, hard winter we’re now donning archaeologist tan lines as we complete our third fieldwork week. The FROGs are also hard at work, and if you read on you’ll find their reports from the field, get brought up to speed with our upcoming events, and find out what we’ve been up to in the last few months. Enjoy! From the TDP Team: Gustav, Nathalie, Eliott and Courtney
Fieldwork at Bermondsey: We look happier in the sun, don’t we?
Archaeology Training Forum winners
We are honoured to have received the Archaeology Training Forum’s (ATF) Training Award, which recognises excellence in the fields of learning, training and professional development. Eliott and Courtney accepted the award at the Institute for Archaeologists’ annual conference in April. The ATF panel felt that the TDP ‘was clearly a good partnership between the professional and volunteer sectors, helped individuals kick-start their careers, was responsive to the training needs of volunteers, and provided a practical solution to a real archaeological problem’. For more information see the ATF webpage at: http://www.archaeologyuk. org/training/atf.html.
Fieldwork at Bermondsey in June. Just look at all those FROGs with their noses to the grindstone (or gridiron, rather).
Eliott and Courtney accept the ATF Training Award with very large grins. Photo: Martin Newman
In the upcoming Autumn issue: Read about our fieldwork at the Tower of London; ongoing as we write this newsletter.
Riverpedia lecture: Stephen Humphrey 8 August
The TDP are very pleased to announce our next Riverpedia lecture by Stephen Humphrey. Mr Humphrey is widely recognised as an expert on historical Bermondsey and Rotherhithe, and has published extensively on this area of London. He will be presenting a wide-ranging illustrated talk on the area’s links with ships and the sea–a great addition to our archaeological knowledge of these key sites on the Thames foreshore. The lecture will run from 6:30-7:30 pm at Mortimer Wheeler House on Thursday 8 August and your ticket includes a glass of wine or juice. For more information or to book a place, see the TDP’s website at: http://www.thamesdiscovery.org/events/ maritime-bermondsey-rotherhithe
Foreshore Forum: Save the date 5-6 October 2013
We’ll be celebrating our 5th Anniversary with a special two day conference on the 5th and 6th of October at University College London. The programme is already looking fantastic, with a range of speakers including Dr Rick Schulting (Oxford), Prof Martin Bell (Reading), Garry Momber (Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology) and, of course, our volunteers. Booking will open soon, so keep an eye on our events page. We hope to see you in October 2013!
Call for papers and posters
As part of this year’s Foreshore Forum we will have a space dedicated to displays and posters. If you are interested in taking part, please contact Courtney at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Waterloo guided walk 12 August
Join the TDP and the Coin Street Community Builders for a walk along the South Bank to explore the foreshore near the Oxo Tower and Gabriel’s Wharf. This walk is part of the Waterloo Sights and Sounds Project. The walk will begin at 10:30 am and the cost per person is £3.00. To book a place or for further details, please contact Laura Reynolds via the Coin Street website at: http://www.coinstreet.org/whatson/heritage-project/ thames-discovery-walk.html
Fulham Palace September
FROGs take shelter from the rainstorm during fieldwork at Trig Lane/ Cannon Street. The archaeology was worth it.
If you’re a fully fledged FROG then you can look forward to our September week of fieldwork at Fulham Palace. Fulham Palace foreshore has long been an interesting source of foreshore archaeology dating from the Neolithic to the present day. Alongside the FROG fieldwork there will be a guided walk of the site, which will be open to the public. The date will be confirmed soon, so keep an eye on the TDP’s website for more information.
Get involved. Get muddy. Have fun.
The TDP’s ‘summer’ fieldwork season consists of six weeks of fieldwork over six months from April to September. All of this fieldwork is free of charge for the FROG, and is only one of the experiences that TDP offers to both their volunteers and to the general public. Alongside our workshops we run a series of Riverpedia lectures in the evening and guided walks on the foreshore, which are open to all. None of this would be possible without your support. Feeling generous? You can easily donate on our webpage: www.thamesdiscovery.org. Just look for this button:
Bermondsey and Rotherhithe FROG
We’ve heard rumours about the prehistoric archaeology on the Bermondsey foreshore, and done our research, which tells us that Neolithic handaxes and Bronze Age peat deposits have been found on our site. To think that prehistoric humans once stood where we now stand in front of Chamber’s Wharf is exciting, to say the least. Because there is so much erosion on this stretch of foreshore, we’re now seeing the prehistoric archaeology of Bermondsey, and are planning on doing some geoarchaeology on site in the coming months to analyse and hopefully date the peat and worked flint that is appearing [see picture of worked flint below]. Never fear, we haven’t become so obsessed with the ‘really old stuff’ that we’ve forgotten our amazing nautical remains. We were lucky enough to have an army of FROGs and the TDP staff on site for a week in June. We managed to record more of the gridiron, and used our new GPS (thanks Council for British Archaeology) to mark the locations of new and existing features. We are also going to be recording what we think are the remains of an old causeway in August and September. At the Foreshore Forum we’ll be able to present our most recent recording projects and the results of the geoarchaeological analysis of prehistoric Bermondsey.
Post medieval ivory knife handle found by FROG Celia Bailey at Greenwich fieldwork in April.
or so. Posts and timbers are so much more visible, the artefact deposits have changed, we have new features and old familiar features have changed completely. It could be easy to be downhearted about this, but in Greenwich we FROGs try to find the positives! The erosion has meant that the site gets noticed, not only within the TDP, but by the wider public as well, and the erosion has allowed us to learn so much more about the site in the last three years. We don’t have all the answers yet, but we are determined to find them! Earlier this year, a section of the foreshore was designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Whilst it is nice that the importance of the site has been recognised in this way, and hopefully it will mean that the organisations responsible for the foreshore take more notice of the archaeology, only a small portion of the archaeological features are included in the scheduled area. And drawing some lines on a map and issuing a few bits of paper won’t stop the erosion. So it’s more important than ever that we continue to visit regularly and record the changes as they happen. The fieldwork in April was brilliant. We had great weather and loads of people out on the foreshore. We uncovered several new features, including a stone platform around the Naval College steps and an unusual mooring feature in amongst the Tudor jetty, although probably from a much later date. We had time and enough people to look at some of the other features that can get overlooked, including the 19th century mooring features in front of the Trafalgar Tavern. Interestingly, we appear to have anchors placed at the low water mark to designate the property boundaries. I don’t know if anyone has come across anything similar anywhere else on the foreshore?
–Helen Johnston Quite a lot of attention has been paid to the foreshore at Greenwich Palace in the last few months. When we do our monthly monitoring visits it’s very easy to get used to seeing the changes to the site, but the rate of erosion was really brought home to me during April’s fieldwork talking to FROGs who hadn’t visited the site in a year
We were also able to get a better look at some of the features that have been revealed in the last year, including the “brick feature”. After a lot of cleaning, this appears to be a brick platform, built on a timber platform, with a line of timber beams lying behind it. The beams could be reused, and have mortise holes that are similar to ones found in timber-framed buildings. It’s a very strange construction, and dating it is going to be very difficult. It seems much of it was reused, but most likely is the remains of a previous river wall. Maps of the Palace site prior to the construction of the Naval College suggest that the river wall did follow a similar alignment. This is all very intriguing and something we will definitely be watching closely over the next few months. The site is still changing, even in the few months since the fieldwork. Unfortunately, the timber baseplates on the medieval jetty have started to move. During our June monitoring visit, we flipped them over to record their undersides before putting them back in situ. We will be keeping a close eye on them, but I suspect they will disappear quite quickly now that they’ve started to move. I don’t want to end on a sad note! The group is going from strength to strength, and we are in the process of applying for Scheduled Monument Consent so that we can monitor and record in the scheduled area. This is a big step, and it’s given us the chance to think about what we do in the group and what we want to do next. We’ve got some exciting plans, so watch this space! that we would have a go at writing a regular blog, with updates from our monitoring visits and any other features and information to flag up about the site. So, ladies and gentlemen, may I present the inaugural issue of the new Vauxhall FROG Blog: Fawkes Hall on Thames: www.fawkeshallonthames.wordpress.com/
Welcome to our new FROGs
In April we had our official FROG training on site at Greenwich. It was a crazy week, and we broke the record for number of people on the foreshore: on one day nearly 100! Look at them descending on Eliott’s pile of kit [above]. Check out the photos on our flickr page here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thamesdiscovery/ sets/72157633365810890/
Vauxhall FROG: Three days at Vauxhall
FROG Blogs/ Riverpedia Workshops/ Lectures
-Solange LaRose Anyone who has visited the key site at Vauxhall will know that in order to see some of the structures on site, we have to take advantage of the lowest tides. June presented us with some good low tides, so Vauxhall FROG scheduled a three day monitoring and recording session. This proved a very fruitful decision in a number of ways. Not only were we able to take time to focus on individual features and actually see features that are usually quite elusive, it also gave us time to discuss what we wanted to do as a FROG and what our next steps should be. One thing we discussed was how to make information about the site and our activities available to a wider audience. We decided
Our most recent Riverpedia workshop was Pottery on the Foreshore [below]. You can read FROG Jeanne Lewis’ brilliant blog about it here: www.thamesdiscovery. org/frog-blog/pottery-workshop-review as well as see photos on our flickr page. If you want to read more about the FROG/ TDP’s recent activities read the FROG Blogs at http://www.thamesdiscovery.org/frog-blog-archive.
Riverpedia workshop review: Death on the Thames
–Solange LaRose I won’t say that it’s common to find human remains in, or associated with, the Thames, but it’s not exactly unheard of either. As a FROG, one of the things that I have to accept is that the next find on my monitoring site could be human, although, thankfully, these are most likely to be skeletal and (hopefully) not too recent. As part of the Festival of Archaeology, the TDP held a workshop on human remains found in the river and on the foreshore. First, MOLA’s Head of Osteology, Natasha Powers gave us an overview of human remains found on the foreshore. These were often collected by antiquarians and were often found as the result of dredging, the construction of embankments and sewers and as chance finds on the foreshore. An interesting observation was that many of the early, prehistoric, remains that have been found were from the west London stretches of the Thames: Battersea, Kew, Strand on the Green, Richmond, although other early examples have been found farther east. Roman period examples cluster around the City, and along the Walbrook in particular, and the prevalence of skulls found has lead to theories about ritual practices involving a head cult. However, Natasha observed that MOLA excavations at a Roman cemetery site near Liverpool Street station threw new light on the ‘afterlife’ of buried remains. This site was situated within a marshy area, which was subject to flooding, and Natasha described a scene in which human remains may have been floating around in floodwaters, bodies breaking up and individual parts being redistributed according to size and shape; long bones from the arms and legs settling along the bottom of river and stream channels, and skulls, with their more rounded shape, floating and rolling much farther away from the original burial site. After this delightful scene Natasha moved on to describe a range of later remains; a group found in the Fleet Valley in the early 1990s, attributed to a post-Battle-of-Hasting battle, and remains that may have found their way into the River as the result of executions, suicides, accidents and murders, and, who knows, perhaps even natural deaths. For the second part of the session, we got to have a look at, and to handle, some of the remains found in London. We split into two groups and first I got to look at the effects that some truly hideous diseases can have on the bones of sufferers; syphilis, tuberculosis, arthritis, and others. Ironically in several cases, the fact
that these people survived for long enough for their illnesses to cause changes to their bones demonstrates their generally robust health. Many sufferers would have died long before the changes to the skeleton would have occurred. The two groups then swapped over and I got to have a look at one of the most wellknown foreshore burials, the young person found on the foreshore at the Isle of Dogs [read more at: http://www. thamesdiscovery.org/frog-blog/discoveries-on-the-isleof-dogs]. Osteoarchaeologist Don Walker had laid out the skeleton and we discussed how we know what we know about this individual. Ways to age the skeleton, what we may be able to tell about the child’s life from his/her remains. We also had an opportunity to look at the two buttons that were found with the remains. All of this led to a very interesting discussion about what this kind of foreshore burial might mean about the people living in this area in the past. The fact that there was a detectable grave cut proved that this was a proper burial, rather than a dumped body. The area was quite remote and cut off in the 18th century, so the people living there may have had quite different customs and habits than people living in larger communities and in the city itself. This burial might be evidence of the people’s relationship with the river, or of their remoteness from parish churches, or of economic stresses. Yvonne has written an interesting précis of this discussion on the FROG Ning network. At this workshop, we are lucky to have access to examples from the Museum of London’s collection, including remains either found or recovered by members of TDP and the Society for Thames Mudlarks. Many of the events are run by specialists, so we’re getting all the inside information.
Keen participants gather around the skeletons at the workshop Death on the Thames.
IN OTHER NEWS
Joining forces on the foreshore
July saw the first Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) fieldschool held in conjunction with the Thames Discovery Programme (TDP) working together for the greater good of nautical archaeology. The Rotherhithe fieldschool was the practical element to the NAS eLearning Introduction and Part 1 Certificate in Foreshore and Underwater Archaeology. For avid NAS member and fieldschool attendee, Gerard Jedrzejak, it was a great opportunity to get to grips with the basic skills of archaeology including data collection, measurement, analysis and presentation of results. “It’s much easier on the foreshore than it is underwater. You have the benefit of communication, no currents, no murky water and no dive time limit.” Aside from this there was the opportunity to meet interesting and like minded people and take an interest in archaeology to the next level. Ian Cundy, regional coordinator, NAS, said: “The recent NAS fieldschool at Rotherhithe was a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a weekend. The weather was fantastic and it was a pleasure to be working on the foreshore with a group of people who all have a similar interest in maritime archaeology.” He said that the major advantage for NAS working with the TDP is that real sites can be used for the course. And for the TDP it was an opportunity to get some new recruits and also to further add to the data collected on foreshore archaeology in Greater London.
To conclude this issue of the TDP newsletter, here are two of our favourite ‘comical’ foreshore finds from July!
Become a NAS eLearner
Want to know more about becoming a NAS eLearner? NAS is a UK charity set up to allow everyone to benefit from the unique and fascinating resource that is the world’s maritime heritage. The NAS eLearning programme is made up of the NAS Introduction and Part I theory courses which you can study at your own pace. Here you can learn the theory aspects from these two courses from the comfort of your own home and then have fun learning the practical elements on a fieldschool weekend or day of your choice. The courses look at the practical applications of archaeology on the foreshore and underwater, specifically why we do it, how we date it, why we should protect it and how we record it. More information from www.nauticalarchaeologysociety.org/content/onlinecourses or email Rachel Quick, NAS Training Officer: email@example.com
Thanks again to the Council for British Archaeology for funding two of our recent workshops. Read about the other great work they do at: http://new.archaeologyuk.org/
Tel. 0207 410 2207 TDP, Mortimer Wheeler House 46 Eagle Wharf Road, London N1 7ED
The Thames Discovery Programme is hosted by Museum of London Archaeology
Thames Discovery Programme
Eliott: firstname.lastname@example.org Nathalie: email@example.com Courtney: firstname.lastname@example.org
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