NEWSLETTER - MARCH 2003

RECENT EVENTS

Last EDAS Lecture
Our last lecture was a Members’ evening, at which EDAS members ‘cross the floor’ to give a presentation on work that they have been involved in. On 12th Feb there were two presentations. The first was by Diane Hall, who told us about Medieval Tiles. Dianne is a potter who had been asked casually about church Medieval tiles, and her involvement and interest grew from there. She has studied the different tile styles both at home and abroad, and has experimented to learn how to reproduce the ancient techniques. She is now renowned as an expert in the subject, and is asked to produce replacements for many of our local and national churches and Abbeys. This was a thoroughly fascinating talk and we congratulate Dianne for what she has achieved.

The second presentation was by Graham and Susan Adams, who led the EDAS Field Trip to the Cotswolds last year. It is customary for the leaders to come and remind us about how enjoyable it was (and perhaps also about the archaeology that we were shown). Last year’s trip was as enjoyable as ever, and there was only the average amount of rain. This year’s trip is to East Anglia, and Keith Allsopp, our leader, is a seasoned hand at arranging them. If you have not been on a Field Trip yet then please do try it – those who come once seem to keep on coming!! You will find an application form included with last month’s Newsletter. Please see this for some of the planned highlights.

FORTHCOMING EVENTS

Saturday 22nd March: Durnovaria – Roman Dorchester
Last week your editor tried to enrole himself on this Day School, and regrets to tell you that it is already overbooked. The Dorset County Museum said that they are intending to organise a ‘repeat performance’ sometime in August, so we will try to keep you informed.
Graham

EDAS AGM Wed 26th March
Don’t forget that we have a second meeting in March, so don't miss it! The AGM is your chance to tell us what you think. The business part of the meeting is over very quickly, and in the second half Martin Green will be telling us about his recent work.

Enclosed with this Newsletter you will find a Membership Renewal slip. Again, this year we have not had to put up the subscription, so membership is £8.50 for an individual, £12.00 for a Family or Institutional membership, or £5 for student. We think this must be good value for nine lectures a year, a monthly Newsletter, and organised walks. If you joined after 1st January this year then you don’t have to pay again until next year.

This month we welcome Mrs. E. Haslem, Mr. P. Bailey and Mr. Dimmer as new members.

Bestwall Quarry Archaeological Project

Help!
This is the last season of excavation at Bestwall Quarry. After 12 years we can finally see the end is in sight. The excavation season starts at the beginning of March, and will continue through until autumn. Can you help with excavation or washing and marking finds. Monday - Friday 10.30 - 4 pm. or hours to suit. Please ring Lilian Ladle 01929 553144 or Janet Bartlet 01300 341085.

The project has been awarded a large grant from English Heritage under the Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund. This will help towards financing the project toward final publication.

Lilian Ladle & Janet Bartlet.

Green Island Project –Volunteers wanted !!
Volunteers are required for a detailed test pit survey on Green Island in late March. Previous work has revealed evidence of Iron Age/ Romano-British activity. Boat transport will be provided; All you need is enthusiasm, lunch, suitable clothing and a current tetanus injection. The work will take about a week. Dates will be notified nearer the time. Volunteers sought to attend at least two days.

If you are interested contact Eileen Wilkes by e-mail (ewilkes@bournemouth.ac.uk) as soon as possible. Places are limited so apply now. You will not be committed to attend if the confirmed dates prove to be inconvenient.

I have got this information via Alan Hawkins who would be pleased to answer any queries you may have. This is an ongoing project that has proved very interesting. Eileen will be lecturing to us later this year.

WE ADVISE YOU TO GET YOURSELVES ON THE LIST AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. e-MAIL EILEEN NOW.
John

UPDATE - The excavcation is taking place from Sunday 23 March to Friday 28 March. Application forms had to be submitted to Eileen by Wednesday 12 March.

Verwood & District Pottery Trust's touring exhibition, Pots, Brooms & Hurdles
This exhibition will be at Wimborne Priest House Museum from 1st April 2003, remaining until June 21st. There will be a comprehensive display of pottery from Cross Roads kiln site, excavated in 1998, and other sites in the Verwood and adjacent areas. Also on some days (not yet decided) there will be a specialist available to identify any pots brought in by members of the public, which will be examined and recorded. Books will be on sale and members of the VDPT will be there to answer questions and guide visitors through the display.The exhibition will be open Mondays to Saturdays, 10am - 4pm. You can find out more about the exhibition by looking on their web site -

A Chalbury Lad goes to work; Jim Haskell D.S.M. – a monograph by John Day
Reviewed by Barry Perratt of EDAS

This short monograph chronicles the first half of the working life of one true Englishman. It shows how a very ordinary country boy left school at fourteen, and by hard work and initiative bettered himself, and while in so doing was an asset to his country. Although part of the “Survey of the Allen Valley” by EDAS, it stands on its own, and will be of interest to readers with different curiosities. The story is essentially that of a family man in the navy, and contains valuable first-hand social and economic history.

This revealing account is full of fascinating information: from the price of a bicycle in 1929 to fishing with a depth charge in the Mediterranean; from the routine of a bread delivery boy in “the early thirties” to the routine of a Stoker Petty Officer in “the fifties”. A surprising revelation was the need for stokers on the H.M.S. Hood to stand beside the boilers every time the fifteen inch guns were fired. The reason was “the back flash caused the flames in the boilers to streak out and then meet across the boiler room and then back into the boilers”.

Using a free-flowing, easy reading and journalistic style, the writer manages to avoid the repetitiveness and excessive detail that is often the sign of and old man’s memories. A few irregularities in spelling and grammar do not detract from the enjoyment of a very worthwhile history. Although privately printed, copies are to found in various libraries, including own own.

Whatever Jake’s Got It’s Catching
Herein lies a cautionary tale. All of you innocents abroad out there take care; this is a sad tale of one who once was normal like you…

This tale started several years ago when Jake Keen organised an experimental archaeology weekend at the Ancient Technology Centre at Cranborne. The Saturday was spent bronze smelting. Lots of smoke, sparks, and bicep numbing hours spent at the bellows pumping air in an attempt to get up to the elusive temperature to melt the ore. I went home clapped out! The second day was fire lighting with Patrick Cave-Browne. Friction methods were first on the list, and those poor old biceps got another hammering. With the sweat streaming down my face, and my muscles screaming for a rest I could feel a healthy respect growing for whoever invented the humble box of matches! The afternoon was a revelation. Out came a piece of flint and a suitable piece of steel, one strike and the punk was glowing. Within a few moments the tinder was smoking, and the fire was alight. Amazing! Sitting in the dark interior of one of the huts we were led through the strange secrets of punk, an essential ingredient of fire lighting with a flint and steel, the process made much easier by using salt-petre.

The second stage was seemingly much more innocent. We have been to many story tellings that Jake organises at the Iron Age hut at Cranborne, all of them memorable experiences in their own way. One particularly stands out. It was a late autumn evening. The story was engrossing. Outside night was falling. Inside the shadows grew as the gloom deepened. The story continued; then we could just make out the shapes of moving figures in the gloom. There was the ‘ting’ of steel on flint, a sudden shower of sparks, and glowing tinder. The hunched shape of Jake could be seen as he blew. Then we heard the whoosh as the glowing tinder was sent spinning round and around his head in a sling. The fiery embers glowed brighter, bright sparks scattered, then in the darkness a flame burst forth. The flaming embers were quickly placed in the hearth, rapidly catching the dry firewood. The story reached its climax, the flames grew illuminating the circle of faces with its flickering light, shadows and the not-quite-seen hunted and chased around the outer edges of the hut making the listeners hunker closer to the warmth and protection of the flames. Quite magical!

Fast-forward some ten years, and a Ray Mears programme is on the telly. It’s fire lighting again. Mmmmmm! The next weekend sees me in an Army Surplus store purchasing a strike-a-light. It’s proudly transported home; there to join a sizeable collection of itinerant bright idea buys that eddy and flow around the desk and floor of my study. A few days later Jake comes round for a curry. Out comes the strike-a-light and Jake scatters sparks rather alarmingly over the settee and carpet. “Good hot spark”, he says.

More time passes. Then on a cold and wet afternoon in January I thought I could light the fire with the strike-a-light. Such fun! The first time the punk glowed after two strikes. Magic! Getting the fire actually going involved much huffing and puffing, and the lounge filling with smoke, but success, a roaring fire ensued. The next time, an hour passed with much striking, many words of ‘encouragement’, but no success – matches and paper delivered the fire; the next time it was about thirty minutes before I gave up and went back to matches and paper. The next time it worked after about twenty strikes. On went the thinking cap. Now with careful preparation I get success with a few strikes every time (neither Jake nor I use salt-petre!). The downside is that the lounge still gets filled with smoke, I’ve inhaled enough soot to cause a chimney fire, and I regularly singe my eyebrows and whiskers. But there is no getting away from it, lighting a fire this way is a truly magical experience.

So, if you should see a sad old geezer covered in smuts scratching away with flint and steel and muttering imprecations at a recalcitrant pile of twigs remember – it could be you!! Now who was it talking about flint knapping??!!

(If you want to share the experience there will be a whole day of activities at the Ancient Technology Centre followed by a story telling with fire lighting on March 22nd. – further details from East Dorset Heritage Trust, 01202 888992.)
Keith Allsopp.

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

The dates for EDAS events are underlined. Walks and field visits usually meet at 10.30 am at the published Grid Reference. Ring the leader if the weather is doubtful or if more details are required.

Wed 19 Mar Wareham Group Meeting: 'Potterne: Bronze Age Ritual and Rubbish' with Andrew Lawson. Wareham Middle School, 7.30 pm.
Sun 23 Mar Walk in New Forest with Steve Moody. A walk of just 4 miles but Steve has lots to show us to fill the day. Site of royal hunting lodge, WW2 bombing ranges, earthworks, Heywood Sumner's Roman kiln site, flints, etc. Meet at Ogdens car park SU181124. Picnic lunch. Soggy ground in valley so wear good boots. Any queries to Peter Walker 01425 471326.
Wed 26 Mar AGM, followed by a talk from Martin Green on his recent work.
Wed 9 Apr EDAS Lecture: ‘Hamworthy Pilkington Site’ with Peter Bellamy
Wed 16 Apr Wareham Group AGM and talk: ‘The Romans at Bestwall’, by Lilian Ladle.
Sun 27 Apr Walk around UpLyme with Karen Brown. Details to follow.
Wed14 May EDAS Lecture: ‘The Archaeology of Cremation Burials’ with Jackie McKinley.
Sun 18 May Walk around Studland, Godlingston Heath, and Ballard Down with Mike Fryatt.
Sun 22 Jun Walk around Little Pamphill and Eyemead with Phil Roberts