NEWSLETTER - DECEMBER 2005

Recent Events

Last EDAS Lecture

Our October lecture was ably presented by an old friend of EDAS, Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick of Wessex Archaeology. Andrew brought us up to date on the work that Wessex have been doing around Stonehenge, in particular regarding the "Amesbury Archer" and the "Boscombe Bowmen" as they have become known.

The discovery of the Amesbury Archer was one of those digs that proves that the best finds happen on the last day, and was widely publicised by the media at the time, even leading to some friendly rivalry with our fellow Europeans ("... so, Stonehenge vas bilt by zee Germans....!!). Both the quantity (around 100) and quality (including gold earrings or hair braids) of the grave goods found with the burial suggested a very high status individual, and the presence of arrow heads and stone wrist guards (one black and one red) gave the suggestion of him being an archer. Tools associated with metalworking, such as a cushion stone and a boar's tusk were also found which suggests that he was a skilled metallurgist. Analysis of the isotopes of his teeth suggested that he grew up in central Europe, possibly close to the Alps. The skeleton showed that he had suffered a major injury to his knee at some stage in his life and therefore probably walked with a pronounced limp.

Near to the Archer's grave was another burial which was Carbon dated to slightly later than the Archer (within one to two generations) and also had similar gold ornaments. Examination of the skeleton showed a very rare malformation of the foot bones (which would not be noticeable in life) which was the same as found on the Archer. Could they have been Father and Son or Grandson?

The discovery of the mass grave of the "Boscome Bowmen" was made during a watching brief over the laying of a new water pipe, and was remarkably lucky as an earlier pipe trench was later found to have also only just missed destroying the grave.

The grave consisted of a large jumble of bones which when analysed proved to be only one complete skeleton but up to seven other individuals, ranging in age from the teens to the complete skeleton of a male of around 40. Beaker pottery and arrow heads were found in the grave along with a bone "toggle" and another boar's tusk (metalworking tool?). Isotope analysis was again performed on the enamel of the teeth and this time suggested that they all originated in western Britain. This appears to be the case for all the individuals in the grave, even the children, suggesting a migration of a "related" group. Andrew asked whether that as the area from which they migrated would include south west Wales could the group have originated in the Preseli hills, which is thought to be the source of the Stonehenge Blue stones? This is indeed an intriguing idea and has given rise to the suggestion that the group are the "Builders of Stonehenge".

One of the intriguing questions raised by both the Archer and the Bowmen graves was why were they buried so far from Stonehenge? This may have been answered by the recent discovery of a "Pit circle" monument within a couple of hundred metres of the burials. Definitive dating evidence for the circle has not been found but the suggestion is that it was contemporary with the burials and hence may have been the focus.

Many thanks to Andrew for a professionally presented and interesting talk,

Steve Smith

Library News

Additions to the library:


Many thanks all who donated books and other items for our library.

Alan Hawkins

Archive Awareness Campaign

"As part of the 2005 Archive Awareness Campaign, the Dorset History Centre is holding a series of events in Autumn 2005 and Spring 2006. Through these events we aim to increase awareness of the Dorset History Centre and the service we provide.

If you require further information about the Dorset History Centre, the programme of events and other services we provide, or additional leaflets please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you, Jacqui Halewood, Principal Archivist"

Short courses are being run on:

For more information please contact Dorset Archives on 01305 228926 or at archives@dorsetcc.gov.uk

(Peter has kindly put a copy of the Dorset Archives information leaflet on the EDAS web-site: www.edas-archaeology.org.uk)

 

ENVIRONMENTAL AGENCY

 

The Environmental Agency is sensitive to the flooding that has occurred in recent years and is keen to add to its knowledge any available information about river, tidal and groundwater flooding. They have found that within communities, residents and organised groups have information that would assist the Agency in managing the flood risk.

So if you have:

Please contact them so they can improve their records. If you think that you may have information that will help with this initiative please contact the South Wessex Area Environment Agency, based at Blandford.

Any contributions to this project will be handled sensitively and returned quickly:

Direct Dial 01256 483462

Email- swx.flooddefence@environment-agency.gov.uk

www.environment-agency.gov.uk

or:

Frances Burden

C/O The Library

The Priest’s House Museum, High Street,

Wimborne, BH21 1HR

EDAS Field Trip 2006

Each year a group of EDAS members head for "foreign climes" (well at least outside Dorset!) and 2006 is no exception.

For 2006 the destination is Worcestershire where we will be exploring some of the varied heritage and archaeology of this historic county.

The Field Trip will take place from Sunday 11th to Friday 16th June 2006 and a provisional outline of the visits is shown below:

  • Sunday – Walk up to Bredon Hill Iron Age hillfort (or a less strenuous option is a visit to Pershore Abbey), followed by the Almonry museum and Abbey grounds in Evesham .
  • Monday – Worcester Cathedral, Greyfriars Merchants House and the Royal Worcester Porcelain. I hope to also arrange a visit to an excavation.
  • Tuesday – Walk up to Herefordshire Beacon hillfort on the Malvern Hills (known as British Camp), Malvern Priory church and the museum of Local History. I hope to arrange a talk in the evening.
  • Wednesday – Free day
  • Thursday – Visit to Avoncroft museum of historic buildings, with optional visit to Bordesley Abbey Visitor Centre and Forge Mill Needle Museum at Redditch.
  • Friday - Great Whitley Court and Church, followed by Hartlebury Castle Bishops Palace and county Museum. Traditional end of trip meal.

There is plenty of varied accommodation in and around Worcester itself or Malvern would also make a good base, but as always accommodation is up to individual members.

If you think you would be interested in joining me for what I hope will be an interesting week then please pencil in the dates into your diary, and let me know so that I can get a rough idea of numbers. I will include more details in next months newsletter along with a form.

Steve Smith - 01202 886897

stevej.smith@ntlworld.com

 

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

The dates for EDAS events are in bold. 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 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.

Sun 19 Mar

Walk. More details later.

Wed 29 Mar

EDAS AGM, followed by "... to partake of tea ... A glimpse into the lives of Henrietta and Hilary Bankes of Kingston Lacy, Dorset" with Geoff Brown of EDAS.

Wed 19 Apr

EDAS lecture: "The Piltdown Man hoax", with Dr Miles Russell of Bournemouth University.