NEWSLETTER - OCTOBER 2004

PERSONALIA
We regret to say that Rhianon Lovell died on Tuesday 18th of August. Rhianon and her husband Bob were founder members of EDAS and regular attenders at meetings and practical projects until they moved to Anglesey, where she helped arrange one of our field trips. Bob made our first Resistivity meter. Rhianon was a very pleasant person who attained distinction in her social work profession. Our thoughts go to Bob and her family.

RECENT EVENTS
Sun 22nd August - Walk around Abbotsbury with Karen Brown

The bribe of free tea and coffee at the Abbey house at the start of the walk was totally unnecessary, as all 18 members of the EDAS party thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was apparent very early on that a considerable amount of research and thought by Karen had gone into the day, including arranging the weather.

Abbotsbury is located along the famous stretch of Jurassic Coastline and overlooks the Chesil Beach and Portland. To the North the Ridgeway hills provided a natural causeway for Neolithic man, Bronze Age man and Iron Age man. To the West lie the lovely Abbotsbury gardens and along the shore is the Swannery.

You initially get the impression of a sleepy, picturesque seaside village inhabited by peaceful, tranquil, ordinary folk. Karen soon disabused us of this image as she gave us glimpses of the past with tales of naughty abbots, the yearning young maids, marauding soldiers, pillaging Vikings and shipwrecked seaman meeting their fate in the winter storms.

Whilst admiring the mill and grounds of the Abbey house, Karen started to unwrap the past with some rather lurid stories of the wayward Abbots: One had a penchant for horses and was forced to sell them by the Bishop of Salisbury, whilst several of his successors had a taste for fine wines and the ‘ladies’. Abbotsbury owes its origins to the heathen Viking invaders, as the Danish King Canute donated the lands surrounding Abbotsbury to his Steward Orc, who was a Christian. Orc and his wife Thola founded the Benedictine monastery, the Abbey of St. Peter.

Most of the original Abbey has been destroyed and we traced the periphery of the Abbey cloisters and wall enclosures. We toured the footings of the manor house, belonging to the royalist Strangeway family, where a dynamite explosion had destroyed the structure along with the besieging parliamentary troops. Some of the musket holes can be seen today inside St Nicholas Church that adjoins the Abbey house grounds.

The grounds of St Nicholas had a special fascination for some of the EDAS members, including the discovery of an ancient elbow uncovered in a molehill, and an unorthodox trial of slumber wear for the afterlife. A halo formed around the tower following these unusual events in the churchyard. Strange, but true (see the photographs!).

A picnic lunch was devoured whilst being entertained by a reconstructed Viking invasion in front of the 14th century Tithe Barn. We all then regrouped for a pilgrimage to the top of the hill overlooking the village to visit St Catherine’s chapel at its summit.

Pauline demonstrated how desperate young maids used to wish for a husband by suspending themselves in a kneeling position from the walls. We all had the chance to discover the ancient lay lines using dowsing sticks and in the centre of the chapel where these lines converge the sticks went bananas, whirling around in complete circles! Pauline and Glen sang unaccompanied to beautifully illustrate the acoustics of the building. The only sad note was the messages of dedications left on the window ledges for missed loved ones, some written by frail hands on scraps of notepaper.

We all had naughty cream teas under some Kiwi vines in the grounds of the Abbey house. This was a perfect end to a perfect day.

For photographs of the day: Click here
Sonia Ellingham (newcomer to EDAS)

Sun 26th September - Spetisbury Rings and Tarrant Crawford with Steve Smith
The walk was well attended by a happy band of enthusiastic walkers. We clambered up to Spetisbury Rings and duly admired the view. We then climbed down to see the disused railway followed by a visit to the local church. Then, ignoring a notice informing us the footpath was closed, we enjoyed a scenic walk over a stream and across fields, and then discovered some ...... had stolen the bridge across. Undeterred we traipsed back to Spetisbury for an early lunch at the Drax Arms but in spite of advertising bar food, it was not 'doing' food, not even sandwiches. However, duly refreshed after a diet of beer and crisps, we continued the walk over a lovely old bridge and saw some interesting abbey remains incorporated into a farm, and also saw the church.

Many thanks to Steve for leading a most enjoyable walk with interesting and unexpected highlights!

Badbury Dig
Martin Papworth sends his thanks for the help in the excavation on Badbury Rings, and has given an interim report (enclosed) to bring us up to date on his initial resume. Arrangements will be made to prepare the artefacts sometime in November. John

EDAS Evening Lecture
At our first evening lecture of the season Martin Papworth of the National Trust talked to us about the archaeology of Golden Cap. The cliffs along this famous part of the Dorset coast are gradually falling into the sea, and over a number of years Martin has been undertaking rescue archaeology on known sites, such as Bronze Age barrows. The photographs of the site showed how dangerous this work could be: on the other side of some plastic screening there was a 500 ft drop! However, all this bravery did not necessarily make the archaeology easier to understand. The efforts of war time construction engineers and movement of wind-blown sand both made the archaeology very difficult to interpret. Martin also told us about some archaeological demographic research that he was undertaking to understand better the purpose and use of Dorset Hill Forts. We thank Martin for a very interesting lecture on some familiar and also some very unusual sites.

FORTHCOMING EVENTS
Sun 24th October – Walk with Barry Perratt.
Full details are shown in the hard copy newsletter or email version for members.

DHNAS Meetings
There are number of archaeology meetings being held by the DNHAS at Dorchester Museum on current archaeological research, and field work in the county and beyond.

Nov 5th Lecture: ‘Digging the Dirt – continuing researches on Cranborne Chase’, by Martin Green from Down Farm.

12th March 2005 - Day School: – Durnovaria and Roman Towns in Southern Britannia. A presentation of the histories of five major towns, and aspects of current research, with a panel of speakers.

Bill Putnam & Peter Woodward: Durnovaria (Roman Dorchester)
Peter Davenport: Aquae Sulis (Roman Bath)
Graham Scobie: Venta Belgarum (Roman Winchester)
John Magilton: Noviomagus (Roman Chichester)
Prof. Michael Fulford: Calleva Atrebatum (Roman Silchester)

A full programme and booking form is available, tickets £22; prior booking advisable to avoid disappointment.

EDAS Library: READERS NEEDED
In our library collection we hold several part sets of journals that are rarely, if ever, taken out by members. Many of the reports that they contain are often of little interest or relevance. Before deciding how to store and retrieve or perhaps dispose of these it would be useful if any articles of interest could be listed or 'extracted'. Similarly with small booklets and guides. If you could spare a moment or two to scan though some of theses Journals, especially if you have a special interest in the subject please let me know. Journals held: Medieval Archaeology - Antiquity - Britannia - Roman Studies - Ancient Monument Society reports.
Alan Hawkins 01202 668178

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

The dates for EDAS events are underlined. The monthly evening lectures start at 7.30 pm.
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 13 Oct Talk on ‘Later prehistoric and Romano-British landscapes of the Quantock Hills, Somerset: evidence from the Southern Quantocks Archaeological Survey, 2000-2004’ by Dr Keith Wilkins of University College, Winchester.
Sun 24 Oct Walk with Barry Perratt. Details restricted to hard copy or email version for members
Wed 10 Nov John Gale of Bournemouth University talks on the ‘Knowlton Environment Project’.
Wed 8 Dec Our Chairman, John Day, talks on ‘EDAS – Past’, plus a Christmas Quiz by an EDAS Member.
2005  
Wed 12 Jan ‘Past from Pots: advances in the scientific analysis of ancient pottery’, with Dr Kevin Andrews of Bournemouth University
Wed 16 Feb Davina Freedman of EDAS on ‘The Rock Art of Mid Argyll: An Archaeological Investigation’.