NEWSLETTER - NOVEMBER 2005

RECENT EVENTS

Last EDAS Lecture

Our last lecture must be a first for EDAS and certainly qualified as Extreme Archaeology! Dr Bruce Bradley of Exeter University presented a talk entitled "Top of the World, Zhokhov, A Mesolithic Site in Polar Siberia". Bruce had been invited to spend a month on the island of Zhokov, several miles north of Siberia and well inside the Arctic circle, to investigate a unique frozen Mesolithic site. The site had been discovered by accident several years earlier by the military and was identified as Mesolithic when two students visited the site (staying under canvas!) and radio carbon dated several upstanding pieces of timber. Timber is not naturally present on the island and these turned out to be 8000 years old.

Bruce explained the slow process of excavating in permafrost where only 1-2 cm thaws when exposed to the "summer" sun (daytime temperature never exceeding +4deg C). The finds were amazing; apart from masses of perfectly preserved timbers (some thought to be sled runners) there were a large number of Polar Bear skulls! Could the people have been hunting Polar Bear, one of man's few natural predators? If they were they were using some amazing weapons and tools for the purpose. A number of bone and ivory "spears" were located, edged with perfectly straight flint micro blades. The blades were set into perfectly shaped channels and were absolutely straight and all the same thickness, a technical feat according to Bruce, himself an experienced and skilled flint napper of extreme skill and patience.

The difficulties experienced by the excavation team, even using modern equipment and transport, certainly emphasised the skill and organisation of the group of people who, 8000 years ago, hunted and thrived in such extreme conditions, and perhaps showed that they weren't so different to us after all.

Many thanks to Bruce for an extremely interesting and enjoyable talk.

Steve Smith

Sunday 23 October - Walk "Old Weymouth" with Karen Brown

A record attendance of 30 members congregated for morning coffee at the Pavilion, and were pleasantly surprised to find that by the use of great feminine charm, or magic, or both, free car parking had been obtained. The forenoon was spent looking at interesting buildings and listening to fascinating tales. We saw where King George The Third stayed and heard how he used a bathing machine to disport naked in the sea, and was pushed beneath by three hefty women. We now know the correct quantity of sea-water that should be drunk for the greatest benefit (assuming late eighteenth century pollution), and that immersion after one’s extremities have turned blue is not advised. The Black Dog Inn was seen from the outside, where it is claimed the first black labrador to enter the realm took up residence. A detailed tour of the fine early nineteenth century church of St. Mary, in which hangs on the east wall the impressive large oil painting by Sir James Thornhill of "The Last Supper", revealed that the words "worst of men" on a tombstone are an abbreviation for the ‘worthiest of men".

We were regaled with examples of the consequences of the feud that lasted for centuries between the inhabitants of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis on the two sides of the harbour, and between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians in similar positions. A cannon ball from the civil war, stuck in a wall, high above the Ladies convenience, was seen by all, though some thought that they could also see some mortar. In the afternoon a guided tour of an appropriately furnished, three storied, Portland Stone Tudor town house, was very well received. It seemed small by today’s standards, and was probably a pair of semi-detached originally, which means that, with one room on each of three floors, the old sport of cat-swinging would have been very difficult. Did some members of the household sleep standing up, leaning on a washing line, as did tramps in the workhouse and other places in the twentieth century? The maritime museum in a part of the old brewery building was worth seeing, as were also the views of both the Weymouth and Portland harbours from the hill on which stands the Nothe fort. Congratulations and thanks are well deserved by Karen and Pauline for organising an excellent day. Even the weather was good, and the number of loos in the town is quite astonishing.

Barry Perratt.

Tarrant Monkton Excavation

Please see the separate report included with this Newsletter. David thanks Simon Meadon for his invaluable help with additional site stripping and then backfilling at the end of the excavation.

PERSONALIA

We have received a letter from Clive Bowd, whom longer-term members will recall was an archaeologist and member of EDAS. He moved to Cumbria, from where he moved to Argyll in Scotland. He and his wife have settled well and are enjoying life and finding the local archaeology of great interest. He sends his regards to the society.

FORTHCOMING EVENTS

Sat 19th Nov - Iron Age to D Day. Military Activities in the Harbour Over the Ages.

A half day session of lectures is being held on Saturday 19th November 1.30 – 6pm at the Poole Habour Commissioners’ North Terminal. Tickets £12.50 from Poole Maritime Trust, 6 Western Road Canford Cliffs, Poole, BH13 7BN. Send SAE.

Sat 18th. March 2006. Day School.

PITS, POTS & PEOPLE-10,000 YEARS AT BESTWALL, WAREHAM.

Presenting 13 years of unique excavations of 10,000 years of landscape history. Lecturers include Peter Cox, Lillian Ladle, Peter Bellamy, Dr. Ann Woodward, Jackie Mckinley, Dr. Malcolm Lyi, Professor David Hinton and Jane Brayne. This promises to be a ‘must not miss’ event and seats are already being booked. Send a cheque for £14 payable to the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society, addressed to "Bestwall", Dorset County Museum, High West Street, Dorchester, DT1 1XA

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

The monthly evening lectures start at 7.30pm.

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.

2005

Wed 9 Nov

EDAS lecture: "The men of Stonehenge: the Amesbury Archer and the Boscombe Bowmen", with Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick of Wessex Archaeology.

Sat 19th Nov

Lecture "Iron Age to D Day - Military Activities in Poole Harbour Over the Ages". See earlier for more details.

Wed 14 Dec

EDAS lecture: "Shillingstone Roman Villa", with Jon Valentin of AC Archaeology.

2006

Wed 11 Jan

EDAS lecture: "The Origins and Development of Saxon Wimborne", with Dr David Reeve of EDAS

Wed 8 Feb

EDAS lecture: "Shaftesbury and its Abbey", with Dr John Chandler.

Wed 8 Mar

EDAS lecture: "Romano-Celtic Religion in Wessex", with Professor Tony King of University College, Winchester

Sat 18 Mar

A series of lectures: "Pits, Pots and People - 10,000 years at Bestwall, Wareham". Book early to avoid disappointment. See earlier for more details.