<![CDATA[Old Sleaford Heritage Group - Dig Diary]]>Sat, 14 Nov 2015 01:57:09 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Dig Diary - Days 13 & 14 - 9th/10th November]]>Wed, 11 Nov 2015 19:12:31 GMThttp://www.oldsleaford.org.uk/dig-diary/dig-diary-days-13-14-9th10th-novemberPictureSherd from a Roman ceramic sprinkler - inscribed with a partial alphabet. Once of only a handful discovered in Britain!
At about this time, near the end of the excavation, digging gradually decreases and the all-important recording speeds up. However spectacular the excavated remains are – and believe me these are spectacular – they are worthless unless recorded accurately enough to be able to re-create the archaeology in the office. It almost feels like the site is slowly grinding to a halt.
Then on Tuesday lunchtime, some real excitement...

A young pot washer sees something remarkable and rare. She is washing yet another sherd of Roman pottery. Her hands are cold. This must be the hundredth sherd washed today – or is it the thousandth? But this is different. With the mud washed off the sherd she can clearly see writing. The pot is a fairly standard type of Roman ceramic strainer, with many holes in the base for letting liquids escape. But inscribed round the side of the pot near the base is clear, and precisely created, writing. Before firing the vessel, someone had written the alphabet in the wet clay. On this sherd the letters from the middle the alphabet. How utterly remarkable. A craftsman, a literate potter, practising his or her writing skills on a humble kitchen vessel. Decoration is art but this is writing, a powerful symbol and a direct way of communicating with those who use his wares (and those who dig them up 2000 years later). It is not the only pot in Britain with the alphabet inscribed on it. Three other examples are known from elsewhere. But this is ours, in Sleaford, at Old Place, and we are all excited about it, none more so than the project’s pottery expert. No-one has ever seen him so fired-up. The site at Old Place is still buzzing! What else could be left there to find before back-filling?

<![CDATA[Dig Diary - Days 8 to 12 - 4th to 9th November]]>Wed, 11 Nov 2015 19:06:12 GMThttp://www.oldsleaford.org.uk/dig-diary/dig-diary-days-8-to-12-4th-to-9th-november
This is archaeology! This is how any site progresses – nothing much seems to be happening for a while, then occurs the sudden realisation that a whole lot of spoil has been shifted, much has been exposed and interpretations of the newly exposed features abound. At the back of people’s minds is the Open Day on Sunday. The site must look its best to enable visitors to see what is happening but time is short and none is available for making it a pretty site. The rain is not helping with the work stopping regularly as the downpours make the site unworkable. Then, on Friday, the wind wrecks some of the infrastructure, trashing the Gazebo completely and causing the hasty removal of the shelter.
But what about the archaeology. Well the many visitors on Sunday’s Open Day can view the splendour of Trench 1, placed with precision over two parallel walls of a medieval building. This has to be a Manor House – the walls are so thick and well-constructed. But what of the alignments of stones that seem to span the distance between the walls? What was their role? It is suggested that they could have supported cross beams on which would have been nailed a wooden floor, now all decayed. Yes, that would work and be needed in this soft ground. But what date is this Manor House? Well, walls are hard to date but it certainly seems to be pre the 16th century Manor House of the Hussey family. Suggestions seem to focus on the 13th century. But there does not appear from records to have been a Manor House at that time. Well, here it is, close to the site of the 16th century Manor but not on the site. History at Old Sleaford will have to be re-written!
Meanwhile, in Trench 2, a trench through the ‘dark earth’, the build-up of Roman and post-Roman deposits, there are finds. Sherds from pottery of many types is recognisably Roman in date, right through to the 4th century, and animal bones indicate the meat joints consumed on the site through the centuries. There will be plenty of finds to wash! But what of the rest of Trench 2. What is that big semi-circular wall? An apsidal end of a Roman building? Part of a medieval chapel? Then a man thinks he has the answer. He has seen that ground plan before. It would appear to be part of a dovecote. Unfortunately it is right at the edge of the Trench and continues under the baulk.  Visitors come to the site and are amazed to see what lies beneath the lawns of Old Place. They bill and coo, like the doves that once inhabited the place.  The Mayor visits, impressed at the exposure of early history of the town he now fronts. Another successful day.
<![CDATA[Dig Diary - Day 6 & 7 - 2nd/3rd November]]>Fri, 06 Nov 2015 08:00:57 GMThttp://www.oldsleaford.org.uk/dig-diary/dig-diary-day-6-7-2nd3rd-novemberIts getting serious! Backs and shoulders are aching as the excavation continues. Serious amounts of spoil are being shifted and interpretations are being put forward. It is often said that, as a pursuit, archaeology is the perfect balance between the physical and the cerebral. That is certainly the case now. 

While Trench 1 is at the level where archaeology is abundant, those working in Trench 2 have to dig deep for the features.  And dig they do. As always at Old Place there are finds a-plenty to keep the momentum going. Today, a Roman coin in Trench 1, some pottery (could there be an Iron Age sherd among the pieces?) and features - a beam slot perhaps - certainly a ditch, and all in the vicinity of the magnificent walls that showed up on Day 1. There will be loads to see at the Open Day on Sunday 8th November.

Tonight at The Hub the group hosted a fascinating talk by Dr Michael Jones, former City of Lincoln Archaeologist and international expert on Roman Britain. In his talk ‘Lincoln in its Hinterland’ Michael summarised the archaeology of the city and looked beyond the city walls to the development of Roman Lincolnshire. In addition to the known finds Michael discussed various new methods of researching Roman Britain. There will be plenty for the group to undertake to learn 
more about Old Sleaford’s heritage.

For more information on the project and details on how to join, contact us at oldsleaford@gmail.com today!]]>
<![CDATA[Dig Diary - Day 5 - 1st November]]>Mon, 02 Nov 2015 20:00:38 GMThttp://www.oldsleaford.org.uk/dig-diary/dig-diary-day-5-1st-novemberPictureA roman 'hairpin', poss. 2nd/3rd century, found on Sunday by a younger member of the group!
Enthusiasm was just as high on a sunny Sunday as on a rainy Friday and Saturday. Great atmosphere on site as the past of Old Sleaford is slowly revealed to meet the present. It has been a day spent recording the archaeology so far exposed (the bit they never show you on TV archaeology programmes!) and also some further digging, with some amazing finds to brighten the day even further.

Often finds come in two distinct categories – the standard ‘goodies’, the metalwork and the pretty stuff, and the less attractive but archaeologically significant. Both categories have been in evidence today. First-timer at Old Place, Holly, uncovered a beautiful Roman object, usually termed a hair-pin, but sometimes thought to pin together other items such as clothes. Mostly, such items are made of bone but this may have been made of ivory. Imagine finding that on your first day on site – unearthing some beautiful artefact that has lain buried for 1800 years! Well done Holly. Some metalwork was also forthcoming, including two jettons (tokens), thought to be of possibly 13th/14th century date.

In the ‘ugly but highly significant finds category came a smattering of pottery sherds, mud-encrusted broken pieces of pottery which, when cleaned, turned out to date from the 10th century or thereabouts. This is one of the ‘blank’ spots in the otherwise near continuous history of settlement in the immediate vicinity of Old Place. Has the site got another period of archaeology yet to be uncovered – yet another story to tell? If you would like to help answer this and other questions about the fascinating past at Old Place, and to work alongside the area’s most knowledgeable archaeologists email oldsleaford@gmail.com

<![CDATA[Dig Diary - Day 3 & 4 - 30th/31st October]]>Mon, 02 Nov 2015 19:54:34 GMThttp://www.oldsleaford.org.uk/dig-diary/dig-diary-day-3-4-30th31st-septemberWell the rains came down. On the positive side the site is not too hard to dig like it might have been in the summer. And, apart from when the rain was really heavy and the site too slippery for safety, the work went on. No soft, fair weather archaeologists here.

The site is looking good. Parallel medieval walls in Trench 1 are clean and have been expertly exposed. These are not puny garden walls but large structural foundations. Elsewhere in Trench 1 the pits and ditches of the Roman period are being exposed. There is a lot of archaeology and, at present, not much of the natural gravels exposed. Plenty of work remains to be done.

Trench 2 is also moving on apace. Things are less clear-cut here, apart from the presence of pits dug by builders to bury rubble (but at what date?). Because the archaeology is less-obvious in Trench 2 a series of one meter square test pits are being dug to clarify the deposits. These can be just as interesting, being windows on the earlier deposits.

Finds are coming up at a rate and the team of ‘pot-washers’ are weaving their magic and what appear to be lumps of mud are being expertly cleaned with toothbrushes and (cold!!) water to be transformed into gleaming pottery, tile and the like. Surprises abound. It is like Christmas, with each ugly duckling of mud-covered lump being ‘unwrapped’ to become a beautiful swan-like sherd of raw Old Sleaford history.

See you down there then? For a place on the dig team contact oldsleaford@gmail.com

<![CDATA[Dig Diary - Day 1 & 2 - 28th/29th October]]>Fri, 30 Oct 2015 19:26:25 GMThttp://www.oldsleaford.org.uk/dig-diary/dig-diary-day-1-2No matter how much you think you know about a site from fieldwalking, geophysics or test pitting it is only excavation that gives you the real first look at an archaeological site.  Excitement builds from the first machine cut and the pungent smell of the newly broken soil was still in the air on Wednesday as the first of the willing volunteers got their briefings from the three professionals on the site. As if to confirm this was real archaeology the rain came down and the Indian summer, and the once pristine lawn, were both somewhat muddied.

Site cleaning is always the first task and this slowly revealed the patterns in the ground made by centuries of human activity in the two 8m square stripped areas. Crucially, the machining had  revealed that the ‘dark earth’, the accumulated organic detritus of centuries of occupation and known to be widespread at Old Place, had already been removed, probably during a mixture of 18th/19th century landscaping and by the builders who had dumped relatively recent building rubble into machine-cut pits.

While the lack of dark earth is in one sense a disappointment – it would have contained much evidence – it has, on the other hand, enabled a look at the ‘cut’ features, the remains of ditches and pits cut into the natural gravels of the area.

Each of the two areas have their highlights. Trench 1, near the current house, has two well-constructed and parallel stone walls, possibly of medieval date. These are big walls and while it is early days to speculate let us speculate and think of them as medieval, possibly part of the late medieval Manor house? Trench 1 also has apparent Roman features. Meanwhile, Trench 2 has more of the medieval window glass discovered in the initial small test pits and possibly a yard surface. Finds are plentiful in both Trenches.

So two days gone and some fascinating archaeology is present to flesh out the amazing story of Old Sleaford. The work will continue for two weeks and if you would like to book a place for excavation please email oldsleaford@gmail.com.  

<![CDATA[OSHG and National Archaeology Day]]>Sun, 20 Sep 2015 10:46:34 GMThttp://www.oldsleaford.org.uk/dig-diary/oshg-and-national-archaeology-dayThursday July 23rd 2015 was National Archaeology Day. In Lincolnshire, a number of local groups, including OSHG, had stalls in The Collection, the impressive museum in Lincoln. For us, the finds on display caused much discussion, especially the Iron Age coin moulds from earlier Old Sleaford excavations. Over 600 people of all ages visited the Collection during the day. Many leaflets were taken and lively discussions ensued. It was good to talk to the other Groups present and take in their thoughts and ideas. From those discussions it was clear there is a great interest in the archaeology of the county and a large group of active participants to tap into.

Aside from the stalls, talks were delivered throughout the day. Ours outlined what is special about the archaeology of Old Sleaford, its continuity of settlement through time, its special finds, including the coin moulds, and the importance of the small undeveloped oasis of archaeology that is the focus of our forthcoming research.

We have the site and the enthusiasm to investigate it and its surroundings, the community at large is out there, with many willing to participate and raring to get started. The paperwork is being put in place that will enable further works to take place. A soon as all that is approved we will be out there investigating this fascinating and historic piece of Old Sleaford.

<![CDATA[PRESS RELEASE! OLD PLACE ARCHAEOLOGICAL DIG RECEIVES HERITAGE FUNDING]]>Sun, 09 Aug 2015 10:00:17 GMThttp://www.oldsleaford.org.uk/dig-diary/press-release-old-place-archaeological-dig-receives-heritage-fundingAn undeveloped piece of land at Old Place, Boston Road, Sleaford will soon reveal its archaeological secrets thanks to a £56,700 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Last year members of Old Sleaford Heritage Group (OSHG) opened up a trench to locate the site of an old fountain known to be on the land prior to the 1980s redevelopment of the area, But when they dug deeper they uncovered what they now know to be an undisturbed Roman site.

“This part of Old Sleaford is rich in evidence of Iron Age, Roman and later occupation and this bit of land is one of the last areas available for excavation” said OSHG’s Dale Trimble (Chairman, OSHG). “Test pits were dug in May and revealed both Roman and Medieval finds.

“Now we have funding in place, thanks to the HLF, we hope to start excavating in late October and expect to be on site for about two weeks.”

The HLF grant will pay for professional archaeologists to work alongside the group’s in-house experts and will help with the procurement of essential tools and equipment for the volunteer members of the team. A rented unit at Navigation Yard will act as the dig’s HQ and workshop, and where finds will be stored and displayed.

“We intend to project manage the dig ourselves and aim to train our volunteers in all aspects of the process involved in an excavation. We are a community group who want, at every stage of the project, as much involvement as possible by our members and other like-minded groups,” added Dale Trimble. “We are relying on them to help at every stage of the process, from this early research and organising phase through to the dig itself and on to the post-activity writing and reporting on the project that will be added to documentation already in existence.”

Explaining the importance of the HLF support, Vanessa Harbar, The Head of HLF in the East Midlands said ““This is an exciting opportunity to uncover what lies buried in the grounds of Old Place and what these finds may be able to tell us about the history of the area. We particularly applaud efforts to involve as many people as possible in archaeological activities and encourage everyone with an interest to get involved.


1. Old Place, Boston Road, Sleaford lies near to the site of a Medieval manor house owned by Sir John Hussey, and within the limits of the Roman Town and close to an Iron Age Mint.

2. A number of excavations from the 1960s onwards have recovered evidence from around 50BC and up to the Roman invasion in AD43 that shows Sleaford’s inhabitants were minting coinage and importing continental pottery. Archaeologists believe that at this time Sleaford was a sub-capital of the local Iron Age tribe Corieltauvi.

3. OSHG was founded in January 2014 and officially launched in April that year at the National Centre for Craft and Design (NCCD), an event that was attended by Channel 4's Time Team expert Francis Pryor.

4. The group meets at the NCCD at 7.00 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every month and regularly holds talks on a variety of archaeological/heritage subjects.

5. For further information, images and interviews please contact us at oldsleaford@gmail.com. Details about the group can also be found at www.oldsleaford.org.uk , www.facebook.com/oldsleaford or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/oldsleaford

6. About the Heritage Lottery Fund: From the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections too rare wildlife, we use National Lottery players’ money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about. Go to www.hlf.org.uk or follow us on Twitter at @heritagelottery

<![CDATA[Heritage Lottery Fund decision looms...]]>Wed, 13 Aug 2014 06:26:26 GMThttp://www.oldsleaford.org.uk/dig-diary/heritage-lottery-fund-decision-looms

Can't believe it's been over a year since we dug the first test pit at the 'new' Old Place site!

That said, we have to wait just one more week before the decision is made on our application for Heritage Lottery Funding!!!

In the meantime, here's a shot of another fragment of pottery assembled from a number of sherds collected in January 2014...(wooden peg is 21st tech!)

<![CDATA[Mixed hoard of Iron Age Corieltauvi & Roman coins discovered in Derbyshire cave!]]>Mon, 07 Jul 2014 20:05:15 GMThttp://www.oldsleaford.org.uk/dig-diary/mixed-hoard-of-iron-age-corieltauvi-roman-coins-discovered-in-derbyshire-cave