NEWSLETTER - AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2003

*** VERY IMPORTANT NEW INFORMATION ***

Venue for meetings
We are sending out this Newsletter before the September meeting to inform you of another change to the venue for the next four meetings. Because of urgent building work at Allendale House, the September, October and November meetings were to be at the East Dorset District Council offices at Furzehill. However, Peter has since discovered that the room was not really big enough for us, and so

The venue for the next four meetings (Sep to Dec inclusive) is St Catherine’s Hall, Wimborne

where we used to meet. (For new members information, the hall is at the rear of St Catherine’s Roman Catholic Church, corner of Leigh Road and Lewens Lane, Wimborne). The meeting dates are as advertised in the Programme.

Programme Change to Old Sarum
There is a change to the October walk from that in the programme. Mandy Richardson is taking us on a guided tour of Clarendon Palace, then if time permits we will take a look at Farley Church (large Wren-style church in small village) and then go onto Old Sarum. Mandy will say a few words there and then we will take the audio tour. We should have more details about this event in the October Newsletter.

RECENT EVENTS
Saturday 5th July - EDAS BBQ

A balmy summers evening, good company, the chatter and laughter of old friends. A band playing gently in the background whilst the guests availed themselves of good food and drink prepared by three top gourmet Chefs: yes, it was the Barbecue in EDAS’s 20th year, enjoyed by about 70 members. John gave a short (yes short) witty anecdotal speech regarding the last 20 years and a toast was proposed to that celebration with a wish that the Society would prosper in the future. Again we are grateful to Martin for the Down Farm venue and to Wendy and Haydn for organising the event. Also thanks to all who helped and supplied the food and drink, and to Karen who arranged and played in the superb Band.

Silchester Roman Town Excavations Visit
On Sunday 27th July eight EDAS met at Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum) to see the continuing excavations by Reading University. We were shown round by the Site Director, Professor Michael Fulford, who has led the excavations since 1997. Afterwards we enjoyed a picnic lunch at the well preserved Amphitheatre on the outskirts of the town.

The current work is a re-excavation of Insula IX, which was first excavated in 1893 during a twenty year project by the Society of Antiquaries of London to excavate the entire Roman city. Significant finds from this work include an Ogham stone. Calleva Atrebatum was a major Roman civitas capital (administrative centre). The purpose of the current excavation is to re-interpret the Victorian work, and trace the Iron Age origins, subsequent Roman development and eventual abandonment of approximately one-third of Insula IX. It is believed to have been a part of the town devoted to industrial and commercial activity, as well as residential use.

For more information see Reading University’s very interesting web-site http://www.silchester.rdg.ac.uk

We thank Peter Walker for arranging this very interesting EDAS trip.

EDAS Field Trip to East Anglia - 2003
This year’s field trip was to Norfolk and started over mid-day lunch in the Four Horse Shoes a few miles south of Diss on Sunday June 7th. The food was good and we were given plenty of time to bond as a group of 12; two were to arrive the next day. The afternoon saw us church exploring. First was St. Mary Magdalene at Thornham Magna. (Yes, I know that is in Suffolk but we were right on the county borders and it was confusing at times to know which county we were in). Like most parish churches it had a number of interesting features, such as a 15th.c. hammerbeam roof and inevitably a Green Man. Next, St. Mary’s, Thornham Parva church, has one, if not the best, retable in England. Of fourteenth century origin it was made for a monastery at Thetford but discovered in a stable in 1927. Fourteenth c. wall paintings, regrettably not in good condition, the result of conservation!! uniquely show the life of St. Edmund. A brick tower and thatched roof helped to make this church a ‘must visit’ experience. Tea and cakes were the order of the day at Gislingham church and some of us ended up at Eye to see the magnificent 1932 font cover, superb paintings on the 15th.c. screen and sculpted figures in the roof. The church and village of Eye is really a full days excursion.

Monday. First to the Roman Town of Venta Icenorum (Caistor St. Edmunds) Massive walls are a reminder that it is a site of local and national importance, once one of the regional capitals of Roman Britain.

Next Norwich, and to the Strangers Hall, a medieval building that has seen a variety of inhabitants, from priests to merchants. Fortunately a guide prevented us getting lost in the myriad rooms.

After was a visit to the castle. As was to be expected, it was situated on the highest ground, to overlook the town. It was one of a huge building programme supervised personally by William and his viceroys William FitzOsborne and Bishop Odo of Bayeux, being completed by 1071. As time progressed there were many embellishments: a close study reveals the architectural conflict between comfort and defence. After the revolt of 1175 Henry garrisoned the castle with 300 men at arms, archers and engineers. Because of costs many castles were allowed to deteriorate, but Norwich has remained in good condition. Little damage seems to have been done during the civil war. The castle now houses a fine museum where we were first given a lecture on local archaeology by a professor of chemistry, then taken around the battlements by a local archaeologist. On each side of the battlements we looked out over the vista of the town and were given an informative and lively talk on its history. The evening saw us at dinner in a pub, followed by an excellent talk on the archaeology of Norfolk.

The rest of the week saw a continuing galaxy of truly amazing places. Both Grimes Graves and Sutton Hoo were visited with enthusiasm. Grimes Graves are 360 infilled shafts of Neolithic Flint Mines. The Saxons named them Grim after the pagan God Grim, the nickname for Woden, the chief God. It was not until 1870 when Canon Greenwell excavated a hollow and found it to be the top of an infilled shaft that it was realised what they were. These mines were dug some 4000 years ago and for a period of about 400 years, to get at the underlying high quality flint. The total site covers some 37ha and the shafts descend sometimes to a depth of 12m. Many of the shafts are linked by galleries 4m to 8m in width. The main mining tool was the pick, made of red deer antler. This demonstrated that antlers must have been easy to come by, they are normally shed and eaten, thereby only available if the deer are carefully managed. It has been estimated that 120 deer were necessary to provide enough antlers to make enough picks for a years excavation. Two thirds of the antlers were from the left side, indicating use by right handed people, while presumably the others were left handed. Access and crawling along these tunnels must have been very difficult and one wonders what the accident rate was. Members were able to descend into one of these shafts. Fortunately all that did so returned.

Sutton Hoo is a field on a ridge overlooking the Debden estuary and it has been farmed and lived in since Neolithic times. The outstanding monuments of the area are large mounds, built in the early 7th century. Over a period of about 50 years they became the burial sites of an aristocracy. Two were rich burials, one male and one female. In 1939 the first was discovered and incomparable treasure revealed. The war delayed further investigation but it was protected by the land owner Mrs. Pretty, who gave the treasures to the British Museum and the site has been owned by the National Trust since 1998. This first excavation revealed a ship some 27 metres long. They eventually found the grave itself with the dead man’s possessions. Grave robbers had looked in the wrong spot so the finds were untouched since the burial had taken place. After the war years of research, including in the 1960s a re-excavation, has considerably advanced our knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon period. Further recent excavations have uncovered other rich burials. The site contains a fine museum.

East Sussex post mills were the finest of their type in the world, and there has been a mill at Saxtead Green since 1287. Until the First World War it produced flour, but then changed to grinding feed for animals. It is still in working order and we were able to clamber to the top of the three floors to see all the machinery

Somewhat different was a visit to the attractive village of Castle Acre, which stands on the Pedlars Way and has remained an important route from at least Roman times. On the outskirts of the village is the ruins of a Norman Castle and Priory. The Priory is the best preserved Cluniac monastery in the country. It has to be said that at this stage there was great appreciation of the strawberries and cream supplied by a local restaurant.

My interest in castles is limited but a visit to Framlingham Castle made me realise my ignorance was causing me to lose much in life.

Framlingham is truly an impressive place. The castle has thirteen towers linked together with high curtain walls and it was easy to walk all around the battlements. Within the walls are an attractive group of brick and flint buildings, built as a school and poorhouse. The earliest evidence of habitation was the excavation of 25 eighth century skeletons; the manor of Framlingham was given to Roger Bigod by King Henry I in 1101. His son was created earl of Norfolk and built three major castles, of which Framlingham was one. It was the scene of various battles and owners who fell in and out of favour with Kings. In 1553 the castle was given by the boy King Edward VI to his sister Mary. Here she waited that summer until her brother died and she was told by the Earl of Arundel that she was Queen. In Queen Elizabeth's time the castle was made a prison for recusant priests, and returned to the Howards in 1613. Its buildings, imposing walls and fascinating history makes this a worthwhile place to visit.

The week saw so many fine things that space (and memory) does not allow adequate description. I can only give a superficial account of a few, which does not give them or the week credit. Ely Cathedral and the clamber up the Octagon Tower, for instance, deserves an article on its own. Wednesday, the "day off", saw us doing various and separate things. Unfortunately it was one of those field trips where aerial photography was not possible. Unfortunately too, was the fact two members were not able to attend the whole week. But, we included others for whom this was their first EDAS field trip, we welcome them and hope to see them again.

The last night brought us to our traditional last night dinner, when we ate and drank well in a pub that did us proud. The opportunity was given to thank Keith and Denise, an applaud that is repeated here, for yet another superb EDAS field trip.

Now for next year. This will be led by Peter Walker, his first go at this sort of project but well experienced in organising our monthly walks. His visit will be to Hadrian’s Wall and we hope this will be well attended, with even more newcomers.

We have now been to many places, including Anglesey, Leicestershire, Dartmoor, Sussex and the Scottish Boarder country. There are many more to go to and some well worth a re-visit. Where we go, and the actual sites visited, depend on the organiser, so although there are certain traditional elements each trip has its own characteristics. Accommodation is varied and help and advice given to booking.

A visit to the Lakeland is already determined for the year after next by Gill Broadbent, keep it in mind now and we look forward to seeing you.
John Day

FORTHCOMING EVENTS
Sunday 24 August - EDAS Walk 'A Purbeck Stroll' with Len Norris

Meet at Creech Hill viewpoint car park Ref. SZ 902817. The walk will go Eastwards towards Corfe Castle - about 6 miles but not too undulating. The more energetic could descend into Corfe Castle for lunch whilst the remainder can stay 'up top' and consume their picnic. Any queries contact Len Norris on 01202 625889.

Dorset Archaeological Days
The Dorset County Council’s Archaeology Section has organised a series of Archaeology Walks throughout the summer. The cost is £3 per adult and £1 per child. For some walks prior booking is essential, and these are marked accordingly below. You can get full details from the County Council. The remaining walks for September are as follows:

Sat 6th Sep 10 am – Trevor Steptoe AVAS
Oakley Down and Wyke Down – prehistoric Landscape and Burials

Meet where Ackling Dyke crosses the B3081 (SU 016163). 3 miles, 2½ hours.

Tue 9th Sep 10:30 am – Laurence Keen DAC
Milton Abbey DMV and St Katherine’s Chapel

Meet at M. Abbey Car Park, charge not included (ST 799023). 2 miles, 2 hours.

Thu 11th Sep 2pm – Gordon Le Pard, Dorset Coast Forum
Archaeology of the Middle Fleet (village destroyed by storm in 1824)

Meet at the church at Fleet (SY 634805). 3 miles, 2½ hours.

Fri 12th Sep 2pm – Duncan Coe English Heritage
Maiden Castle, a prehistoric landscape

Meet at Maiden Castle car park (SY 668889). 1 mile, 2 hours.

Sat 13th Sep 2pm - Gordon Le Pard, Dorset Coast Forum
Archaeology of the Western Fleet landing places, drainage, wartime history

Meet at the Elm Tree Inn, Langton Herring (SY 614824). 3 miles, 2½ hours.

Sun 21st Sep 2pm – John Smith DNHAS
Hod Hill: Iron Age hillfort and Roman Fort in the company of a Roman Soldier

Meet at the NT car park (ST 853112). 1 mile, 2 hours.

Tue 30th Sep 10:30am – Peter Woodward, Dorset County Museum
All Saints Church –the collections of the Dorset County Museum

Meet at All Saints Church, Dorchester. Some Stairs. * Prior Booking for this one essential *

Sun 28th Sept - Walk around Ibberton and Bulbarrow Hill with Steve Smith
Meet at the viewpoint car park on the road at OS Ref ST 784059 at 10:30 for a 5-6 mile walk taking in the views from Bulbarrow hill, Rawlsbury hill camp, Wooland and Ibberton. Pub lunch at the Crown Ibberton or picnic lunch. A steep climb back to the car at the end but the views are reward enough! Any queries contact Steve Smith on 07798 832958.

Roman Durnovaria Day School – Dorchester Museum, 18th October 2002
Earlier this year the DNHAS ran a Day School about Roman Dorchester which was heavily oversubscribed. People who were lucky enough to get places said that it was very good indeed. As promised, DNHAS are now repeating the event for the benefit of those who were disappointed last time. The talks are:

The Durotriges - Niall Sharples
The Roman Conquest and the Aqueduct at Dorchester - Bill Putnam
The Dorchester Roman Baths – John Magilton
The Development of the Roman Town – Peter Woodward
The Roman Mosaics of Dorchester – Steve Cosh

as well as two discussion sessions and two tea breaks!

The cost is £15 per person excluding lunch (there are plenty of Tea Rooms and Pubs nearby). Prior booking will almost certainly be essential. You can get an application form at the Museum.

PRACTICAL ARCHAEOLOGY

Field Walking
We have been asked by Dr. C. French of Cambridge University to do some field walking on Saturday, September 6th, at Wimborne St. Giles as a follow up to last year. I shall not know exactly where this will be until a few days before the event. I will phone or e-mail those whom I know for sure are coming (phone me if you think I have forgotten - as well I might). Would others not yet contacted please phone me (01258-840338) around about the 4th September.
John

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 10 Sep EDAS Lecture 'New Glimpses of Prehistoric Landscape changes in the Upper Allen Valley', with Dr. Charly French of Cambridge University. ** This lecture is being held at St Catherine's Hall **
Sun 28 Sep Walk around Ibberton and Bulbarrow Hill with Steve Smith. See earlier for details.
Wed 8 Oct EDAS Lecture: 'Archaeology of the Intertidal Wetlands - some muddy examples' with Dr Mike Allen of Wessex Archaeology. **This lecture is being held at St Catherine's Hall**
Sun 19 Oct Walk and tour around Clarendon Palace with Mandy Richardson and Old Sarum. Details to follow in October newsletter.
Wed 12 Nov EDAS Lecture: 'The Salisbury Museum Archaeological Res-earch Group (SMARG) and its contribution to archaeology in South Wiltshire' with Martin Wright of Salisbury Museum. **This lecture is being held at St Catherine's Hall**