Issue 4 October 2010

This is the fourth edition of the CBA SW Newsletter in its new format, and it seems that the new look continues to find favour with our readers. As for the content, this continues to evolve: this time something of a theme has emerged with the South West taking a prominent place on the national stage. Not only is the CBA Weekend Meeting taking place in Cornwall this year (see page 3), but two major archaeological events have brought the South West and more specifically Somerset - into national prominence, and, what’s more, on the major news pages, rather than tucked away in the specialist interest sections. There is, however, one way in which the newsletter’s contents fall short of our own ambitions, and that is that they remain rather too top down: we do hope that, as the newsletter becomes more established, it will be used by you, its readers, to share your news, views, plans and experiences. We give all of our contact details on the back page: do please make use of them!


30 September and 7 October, Bristol and London Docklands: MIRO workshops on minerals in the historic environment (page 10) 15-17 October, Truro: CBA Weekend Meeting (page 3) 20 October in Wells, and 12-13 March 2011 in Dunster: SANHS symposia (page 9) 30-31 October, Cardiff University: conference on Emperors, Usurpers and Tyrants (page 10).
images from

In our previous edition we carried an article about the discoveries of a metal detectorist and about the role of the Portable Antiquities Scheme (Issue 3, June 2010, page 15). The

Iron Age objects found in Cornwall were remarkable and significant, but have been somewhat upstaged by the find reported by David Crisp from a field near Frome. He originally found 21 coins, but then came across a ceramic pot filled with more. He

contacted Anna Booth, Finds Liaison Officer for Somerset, who arranged for the pot and its contents to be professionally excavated. The outcome is the largest coin hoard ever found in Britain, and the second largest treasure hoard.

crises and coalition government” (!). Because of the weight of the coins and the fragility of the pot, it is thought that the pot was first buried in the ground and then the coins poured into it. This in turn implies that

whoever consigned the equivalent of four years’ pay for a legionary soldier to the earth was not intending to recover it, but was making an offering on behalf of an agricultural community for a good harvest and favourable weather. Samples from the collection have been exhibited at the British Museum and at Frome Library, where they attracted enormous public interest. The hoard has now been officially designated as Treasure, and a valuation is to be agreed in October. Work has already started on raising the funds to acquire the collection for the nation, with the intention of putting it on permanent display in the new Museum of Somerset when it opens in 2011.
for further information on the Frome hoard: contact address email phone web Anna Booth, Finds Liaison Officer, Somerset County Council Somerset County Museums Service, Somerset Heritage Centre, Brunel Way, Norton Fitzwarren, Taunton TA2 6SF 01823 347457 frome-hoard.htm 2

The pot containing the coins was broken, and the coins were removed in 12 layers, with each layer containing up to 16 separate bags of coins, representing 67 different types. Of the total of more than 52,500 items, 44,245 have been provisionally identified and are now being conserved by experts at the British Museum. They have been dated to the period AD 253-293, and most are made from debased silver or bronze, with a total weight of around 160 kg. This places them in the reign of Carausius, the leader of a separatist regime who ruled Britain independently from AD 286 to 293, a time when the Empire was beset by “barbarian invasions, economic

New carbon dating techniques have revealed that some of the first humans to recolonise Britain after the last Ice Age 14,700 years ago were living in Gough’s Cave in the Cheddar Gorge, and practicing cannibalism. Recent research has shown that tribes of hunter-gatherers moved into Britain from Spain and France with extraordinary rapidity once global warming made this possible. The group that settled in the Mendip Hills was already known to have practiced cannibalism, but a fresh analysis of the cut marks left on the remains of animals and humans has now established that they were deliberately killing both types of victim, and then using sophisticated butchering techniques to strip every bit of food from the bones; in other words, this was not ritual activity but hunting. As a result of this new research, the resettling of Britain is now seen as “rapid, dramatic and bloody” rather than gradual.

to find out more about colonisation and cannibalism in the Mendip Hills: web

The enormous significance of both of these news items from Somerset is bound to be a major talking point in Cornwall, when the CBA convenes for its national weekend meeting from 15 to 17 October in Truro. Full details of this event were covered in our previous edition (Issue 3, June 2010, pages 3-4); suffice it to say that there will be a rich mix of guided site visits, talks and presentations, as well as much networking and socialising, supported by some splendid hospitality.

Image from via the CBA website.

If you have not yet signed up to take part in this major event, and to help welcome colleagues from across the country to our region, you may still have time!
for further information about the CBA Weekend in Cornwall: phone address email web 01904 671417 CBA, St Mary’s House, 66 Bootham, York YO30 7BZ

Gough’s Cave today. Image from science/nature/8151524.stm 3

Colleagues in Cornwall are naturally looking forward to the CBA visit in October. As well

as all the various activities of the county’s Historic Environment Service, there is an active Cornwall Archaeological Society plus a unique collaboration between archaeologists and volunteers, the Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network (CASPN); this has now been running for over 10 years, and helps to look after and protect the ancient sites in West Penwith and Lizard (LAN) areas of Cornwall. In Issue 2 (January 2010, pages 1-2) we reported on the system of site monitors and the programme of monthly clear-ups at various sites that have become overgrown and lost for quite a few years. Working with local farmers, landowners, and groups such as Natural England and the National Trust, CASPN & LAN have established good relationships with site owners, and have an enthusiastic and willing team of volunteers who venture out in all weathers to help look after the sites and clear them of gorse and vegetation. Recently, CASPN’s work at one particular monument, the Mên-an-Tol, has been recognised by English Heritage, who have signed a Management Agreement for the Group to look after the site. Cornwall has one of the densest concentrations of ancient sites in western Europe, and one of the highest visitor footfalls to them, so CASPN & LAN’s work has become an essential part of maintaining a positive visitor experience. Naturally the members of both groups hope that visitors to the CBA weekend in October will have an enjoyable experience while adding to that footfall!

to find out more about CASPN and LAN: web

This is not a leaked question from a pub quiz planned for the CBA Weekend, but the title of a series of lectures to be given in November by Dr Oliver Padel. The talks will be given at the Royal Cornwall Museum, and will examine the evidence for when Cornwall became a county of England, and the extent to which Cornish was spoken in the 14th and 15th centuries. The first talk is at 2 pm on 13 November, and the second and third at 10.30 am on 20 and 27 November.
for further information about the talks on when Cornwall became English: phone email 01872 272205

Last time (Issue 3, June 2010, pages 10-11) we reported on Young Archaeologist Clubs in general, and in particular on the work being undertaken by the group in West Wiltshire. Now, their neighbours in North Wilts have come forward with news of their activities. YAC North Wiltshire meets once a month, and they are based in English Heritage’s National Monuments Record Centre in Swindon. Because their regular meeting rooms had to be taken over to house staff, they have been out and about more than usual, even to the extent of visiting Avebury in January! During their visit to Ringsbury Camp, a local hillfort, members learnt how to make hazel hurdles, as used in managing Iron Age sheep. In June they were introduced to geophysical

Volunteers at Roskruge Barton.

surveying by Vaughan Roberts and Jim Gunter, who demonstrated how to lay out a grid and operate a Resistivity meter, following which the group used their new skills to look for evidence of fences or walls which showed up on an aerial photograph from 1947. The autumn programme includes opportunities to find out about henge monuments and Roman settlements, while December always features a seasonal party, which this year will have a Viking theme.

for radio-carbon dating and isotope analysis of a skeleton found during an investigation of Roman occupation and activity in the Maiden Bradley area. If our deadlines prevent us from bringing you news of the outcomes of these bids in this edition we will make sure we carry a full report in the next!


to find out more about YAC North Wilts: contact email Katy Whitaker

from Current Archaeology, May 2010

The Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society (BACAS) has applied for two grants under the CBA Challenge Funding scheme which encourages ‘original research in the independent sector’. The first application was for funding to allow them to obtain radiocarbon dates for four samples taken from an excavation of a Iron Age/Romano-British site, as part of the Society’s on-going ‘Blacklands Project’; the aim is to enable them to ascertain the exact period of occupation across the site. The second application was seeking funding

The May edition of Current Archaeology carried an article about the discovery of Britain’s oldest shipwreck in treacherous waters at Moor Sand, near Salcombe in Devon. The find was made by members of the South West Maritime Archaeological Group (SWMAG) and published at a conference in Plymouth in February this year. The boat was carrying a large cargo of bronze and tin ingots, and included a total of 64 kg of copper and 20 kg of tin, one ingot of which itself weighed 9 kg, the largest such ingot ever found in the UK. Other finds, including gold torques and a leaf sword, have helped to date the wreck to 800-700BC. There was no sign of the ship that had been carrying the cargo, but it is thought that it

had either been overturned by rough seas, causing it to spill its cargo, or had sunk intact and then broken up. The find is particularly significant because two samples of the cargo have been matched to copper-working sites in Switzerland, thus providing evidence that bulk commodities were being transported over long distances at this early period.
to find out more about the Bronze Age shipwreck at Salcombe: journal Current Archaeology, issue 242, May 2010

of the few sites open to amateur, urban archaeologists, and in one such case a Neolithic flint tool was recovered. In order to gain maximum benefit from such finds, the Project has recently established a virtual museum - an on-line database of artefacts to showcase what has already been found and to encourage local residents to pay heed to the items in their own flower beds and to get them identified and documented.
to find out more about the Brislington Community Archaeology Project: web


Last time (Issue 3, June 2010, pages 11-12) we included a report from Archaeological Consultancy Ltd of their standing buildings survey on a small building which proved to be associated with a disused quarry. Matt Mossop has now provided a very different example of their work, this time involving the investigation of an item at the other end of the scale, namely an incised slate, which apparently depicts a square-rigged sailing vessel.

Members of BCAP excavate a garden test pit in 2009.

According to the CBA’s (national) newsletter for April 2010, Brislington was once hailed as one of the prettiest villages in Somerset, but is now ‘a neighbourhood in the city of Bristol’. Rather less contentiously, they also draw attention to its long history, which dates back to the Neolithic, and features, inter alia, a Roman villa, a medieval pilgrimage site and World War 2 defences. In 2009 local people set up the Brislington Community Archaeology Project (BCAP) to investigate and celebrate their local archaeological heritage. The Project has been designed to accommodate people with a wide range of interests, and to attract support from community groups, local businesses and professional bodies. It has gone on to develop a role in planning and consultative processes, to carry out watching briefs and to undertake small scale excavations. The illustration above shows a test pit being explored in a local garden. These often represent some


While field-walking in Paul parish, West Penwith, Graham Hill recovered the slate amongst an impressively diverse prehistoric and later early medieval assemblage. Diligent field-walking by a number of enthusiasts and

archaeologists has produced some remarkable collections of artefacts in Cornwall, which are increasingly being well documented by the Portable Antiquities Scheme(PAS), adding very considerably to our understanding of the historic environment of the county and of the wider region. Graham Hill has been field-walking since 2004, and is largely self-taught. He has assisted on excavations and more recently has undertaken a number of experiments in lithic manufacture, in the course of which he has made a number of axes and has pecked a substantial hole through a one tonne granite boulder using flaked diorite beach pebbles. The tiny inscribed slate is less than 40mm long with considerable portions missing. It

skin built vessel designed for relatively rough waters or the open sea. The zigzag lines are reminiscent of a number of prehistoric boat and raft depictions, principally from Egypt and Mesopotamia which are commonly interpreted as reed-raft bindings, though the motif is equally common in late Mesolithic North European art work right through to the modern period and may also represent decorated gunwales of almost any period. Graham’s collection is important because of his systematic recording and illustration and his fresh approach to interpretation. The vast majority of diagnostic pieces have been beautifully illustrated, cross referenced and plotted by GPS on OS base maps in a detailed catalogue that would put many professional archaeologists to shame. Working closely with PAS he has recorded an estimated 10,000 find spots to date in his 600 page catalogue. An initial analysis of the resultant scatter patterns has identified numerous discreet assemblages, many of which appear to correspond to similarly defined areas of archaeological activity. These have included flint working areas from the late Mesolithic through to the Neolithic, as well as two probable Mid-Bronze Age house platforms near Castallack and possible prehistoric route ways. It is hoped that further study of his catalogue may also facilitate the study of drift and erosion patterns in the plough soil.
to find out more about Graham Hill’s work: contact email contact email Graham Hill Matt Mossop, Archaeological Consultancy Ltd

appears to show a furled square-rig sail on a single mast (top left), with an additional spar presumably to secure the bottom of the sail. This arrangement is well documented for Viking ships, whilst a small structure (top right) may potentially represent either an anchor beside the steeply swept curve of the prow (with surf and spray beneath) or a support for a steering oar on the starboard side of the stern. The prow or stern has a noticeably differentiated uppermost section which may represent a re-enforcement plate, sheath or removable section, in line with the Viking tradition of removable dragon heads. There is however a general lack of obvious oars, oar ports, rowers and associated helmets and shields, whilst what could be a human figure is equally open to interpretation. The sweep of the stern or prow could fit well with any wooden, reed or

The CBA SW group has resistivity equipment which is available for loan to local groups, and provides training in its use. The Martock Local 7 History Group has made use of this facility to

explore Stapleton, an in particular to try to locate the site of a manorial complex which is described in the Somerset HER.

this offer, or to find out what else might be in the pipeline, should contact Suzie Thomas, CBA’s Community Archaeology Support Officer, who will put them in touch with the appropriate Learning Project Manager for the region.
to find out more about the BBC’s learning resources and activities in support of major history programmes: contact email phone web address Dr Suzie Thomas, Community Support Officer, CBA 01904 521245 St Mary’s House, 66 Bootham, York, YO30 7BZ

Within a short space of time they have produced some interesting results, and are keen to undertake further work on resistivity and to explore further techniques such as magnetrometry using gradiometry equipment from South Somerset Archaeological Research Group.
to find out more about the Martock Local History Group’s resistivity project: contact email Doug Gurzynski, Fieldwork Co-ordinator, MLHG


You will no doubt have seen at least some of the BBC’s impressive and varied coverage of various aspects of the Normans over the last few weeks. This is the first of a series of major history programmes to be shown on the channel, each of which will be accompanied by a number of free learning resources and activities, all of which can be ordered by groups and organisations for local use. There are a number of terms and conditions covering such use, but there are also ‘potentially’ opportunities for publicity through local radio and television. Any local groups wishing to take advantage of

The Last of the Britons - Kings, Thugs or Saints? is the title of a collection of papers by leading experts of the field, which were originally presented at a symposium held in Taunton Castle in 2005 by the Council for British Archaeology South West and the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society. The papers have now been re-published by CBA SW, on a print-on-demand basis, and

the result represents a summary of current knowledge concerning the position of Somerset and its adjoining counties during the ‘dark ages’. It contains an interesting mixture of opinions and data from the disciplines of both archaeology and history from prominent contributors such as Mick Aston, Simon Draper, Peter Leach, Susan Pearce, Barbara Yorke, Chris Webster, James Gerrard, Anthea Harris, Keith Gardner, Richard Sermon, Gill Swanton, Larissa Fry and Andrew F. Smith. This new re-issue is available in paperback priced £9.75 (including P&P), or as a free PDF download. All proceeds go to CBA SW.
to order a copy of this publication or to download the free PDF version: web

archaeological significance of church sites, and how to go about safeguarding it.

to access guidance on Church Care: web

Last time, we mentioned English Heritage’s Heritage at Risk programme which is addressing the extent to which places of worship are at risk, and advising congregations on how to take care of these important buildings (Issue 3, June 2010, page 5). Co-incidentally, the Church of England and the CBA are working together to encourage and support local stewardship of ancient church sites and ruins, and the Church Buildings Council has published guidance on Ruined Churches: Problem or Opportunity. This complements guidance available from the Church of England’s Church Care website on topics such as • • • • caring for your church building caring for your church’s contents caring for your churchyard, and developing your church building

The Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society is organising two symposia this year. The first is taking place on 2 October 2010, which is probably too close to our date of publication for the information to be of much use, but if you are in time and are interested in The Archaeology and History of the Second World War in Somerset, then contact David Dawson urgently (details below). Then on 12 and 13 March 2011 there will be a joint annual symposium and archaeological forum with the Exmoor National Park Authority. The venue has been booked at Dunster Village Hall, as has Mark Gillings of the University of Leicester as the main speaker.
for further information on the CBA SW symposia: contact email David Dawson

The site also has useful guidance on the


Cathedral Architecture; Iron Age Hillforts; World War 2 Defences; and British Prehistory, as well as courses on tools and techniques, including Geophysics; Artefact handling; Archaeological Illustration and Surveying, and a popular Introduction to Archaeology class and Summer School. The courses are delivered in a variety of ways, including Saturday Dayschools; evening classes and longer courses, and many are designed to provide accreditation and a straight-forward route into higher level study.
for further information on the Bristol University programme of short courses in Archaeology: contact address phone email web Heather Crawley, Short Courses Administrator Department of Archaeology & Anthropology, University of Bristol, 43 Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UU 0117 954 6070 (Wednesdays only)

The Mineral Industry Research Organisation (MIRO) is coordinating a series of one-day training workshops around England to explain and promote their guide to best practice in dealing with archaeological remains as part of mineral development within the planning process. The workshops are sponsored by English Heritage through DEFRA; thanks to support from the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund they are free of charge and lunch is provided. Unfortunately the vagaries of our publication schedule mean that this notice will almost certainly reach you after the Bristol event has taken place on 30 September, but the final event in this series is being held from 10 am to 4 pm at the Museum of London in Docklands on 7 October 2010.
for further information on the one-day workshops on minerals and the historic environment: contact address phone email Pam Badham, Office Manager, MIRO Concorde House, Trinity Park, Solihull, Birmingham, B37 7UO 0121 635 5225


Cardiff University is marking the 1600th anniversary of the ‘end’ of Roman Britain with a conference from 30th to 31st October with the title of Emperors, Usurpers, Tyrants: the history and archaeology of western Britain from AD 350-500. The fee is £20 for two days; the full programme and a booking form are available on line.
for further information on the Cardiff University Conference: web 10 events/archaeology/emperors-usurpers-tyrants. html

The Department of Archaeology & Anthropology at Bristol University offers a wide range of short courses open to everyone and available as part of the University’s lifelong learning programme. The 2010-2011 course programme features courses on Egyptology; Bones and Burial Archaeology; Medieval Archaeology;

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We hope that you have enjoyed this, the fourth edition of the CBA SW Newsletter, but – more importantly – we hope that you will also become active contributors to it. We want the newsletter to contain information about the full range of activities taking place in the region, and we want to encourage comments and feedback on the articles; for example we are happy to publicise forthcoming events, but we would very much like to include reports from members of the archaeological community who attend these events and want to share something they have learned that may be of general interest. VOLUNTEERS WANTED! We still need volunteers to join the CBA SW committee, which only meets three times per year. Please get in touch via SUBSCRIBE If you would like to receive a copy of this Newsletter regularly through the post, and become a member of the South West regional group, please send a cheque for £6 to Matt Mossop, Treasurer, CBA SW, Archaeological Consultancy Ltd, Goodagrane, Halvasso, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9BX. This Newsletter has been produced by the Council for British Archaeology for the South West; independent charity no. 268532. It is published in January, June, and October each year. Please send copy for inclusion to the Editor (contact details below): the deadline for Issue 5 is 5 January 2011, but it would be helpful to know well in advance if you may have something to offer!

to provide feedback on this newsletter and its contents, or to submit items for a future edition: contact Barry Lane, Chair, CBA SW the Chair email OR Alan Lambourne, Editor, CBA contact SW Newsletter the Editor email address The Old Coach House, 70 East Street, Ashburton, TQ13 7AX phone 01364 654543