Portals to the Past. Controlling risk and maximising benefit on the Crossrail Archaeology Programme
by Jay Carver
The Crossrail Archaeology Programme is considered one of the most complex archaeology programmes ever undertaken in the UK. A project spanning over 100 kilometres with more than 40 construction sites has the potential to uncover many finds from many periods, right across the London region. This paper will describe some of the key discoveries of the last 5 years of work, and explore some the key methods needed to integrate the delicate work of archaeological investigation with an unforgiving construction programme, and the needs and desires of a huge number of stakeholders from the local community to national agencies and the international media. What emerges is a major-project case study that hopefully demonstrates that the historic environment has so much more to offer the construction and development sector than delays and cost overruns.
3 p.m. Presentations by early career archaeologists from University of York
Web-based 3D visualisation of archaeological excavation data: combining traditional and innovative methods through collaborative platforms
by Dr Fabrizio Galeazzi
After more than thirty years from the introduction of digital technologies in the archaeological workflow archaeologists are still looking for sharable methodologies that allow for the integration of innovative digital practices for fieldwork data recording, management and dissemination. Starting from the experience acquired during the development of the ADS 3D Viewer, a web-based visualisation platform for the analysis and archiving of 3D data, this presentation aims at opening a discussion on the impact that this kind of infrastructures can have on archaeological practice. This paper proposes the use of web-based collaborative platforms that consent 3D exploration of archaeological stratigraphic sequences and associated datasets as one of the possible solution to combine traditional and innovative methods. Web-based 3D platforms allow those unable to participate in the fieldwork experience to access and conduct post-excavation analysis remotely, hence promoting interdisciplinary and ‘at-distance’ collaborative workflows in archaeology.
Axes technologies of Mesolithic Northwest Europe: Considering chronology, materials and contexts
by Dr Benjamin Elliott
Stone axes of various forms are often regarded as symbols of the Neolithic itself; historically linked to concepts of the "Neolithic Package" and in the more recent times becoming an intensive focus for research into the the links between materials, objects and landscapes. In contrast, considerations of axe technologies within the proceeding Mesolithic seem somewhat neglected, presenting a research bias which inhibits a more balanced understanding of changing material worlds during the adoption of agriculture. This paper will go someway towards addressing this imbalance, following the speakers initial interest in osseous axe technologies of the Mesolithic around the North Sea basin before considering recently published research undertaken on polished shale adze from Hermitage, Ireland. In doing so, the speaker aims to draw out a number of key new research questions which the Mesolithic material poses for the more established traditions of Stone Axe Studies.
Making Time for Space at Çatalhöyük: GIS as a tool for exploring intra-site spatiotemporality within complex stratigraphic sequences
by Dr James Taylor
This paper explores the inherent temporality embedded within the stratigraphic sequence of the complex Neolithic tell site of Çatalhöyük, south central Turkey. As a means of grouping the sequence temporally, conventional approaches to stratigraphic analysis, and particularly phasing, can be perceived as a static mode of temporal modelling. In particular at Çatalhöyük, with such a complicated sequence of deposition and truncation, and the generally slow transition of its material culture through time, phasing can be even more problematic. It has not always been clear how best to group the stratigraphy temporally given that many relationships and notions of stratigraphic contemporaneity can be ambiguous and open to interpretation. This research has sought to move beyond conventional phasing and periodisation, by carefully codifying the stratigraphic data from Çatalhöyük and embedding a more nuanced temporality within the sites existing spatial dataset; exploiting the temporal capabilities of ArcGIS 10 to generate an intra-site spatiotemporal model. The aim has been to both visualize the stratigraphic sequence in a more dynamic and intuitive way, and to develop a spatiotemporal model that is robust enough to support fully integrated spatiotemporal analysis of the excavation data and associated material culture, in order to answer broader questions about the social development of the Neolithic occupants of Çatalhöyük.
5 p.m. The Trojan Horseman: The Myth and Reality of the Crosby Garrett Helmet
by Dr Mike Bishop
In May 2010, two men metal-detecting in a field in Cumbria found one of the most interesting, and at the same time controversial, Roman helmets from the whole of the Roman Empire. It both tested the new English treasure legislation (and arguably found it wanting) and teased the specialists with its seemingly unique nature. The findspot was subsequently excavated in an attempt to understand something of its original context. Hauntingly beautiful, the helmet was restored and put up for auction, finally being bought by an anonymous private purchaser for more than £2 million. With wide press coverage and vilificatory postings in the blogosphere, the helmet never ceased to court controversy. On the one hand, this lecture is the story of the discovery, restoration, and eventual public display of the Crosby Garrett Helmet; but it is also a glimpse into the world of the hippika gymnasia, a ritualised training regime undergone by Roman auxiliary cavalry, and an exploration of some of the details of helmet manufacture, decoration, and ownership that have been recovered under what can only be described as difficult circumstances. Research would show just how significant the helmet was, but it almost invariably left more questions unanswered than it addressed and we can only guess at how a cavalry face-mask helmet came to be.
Dacre, Cumbria, the early medieval monastery described by the Venerable Bede
by Rachel Newman
Dacre is rare in the world of early medieval archaeology in being referenced in a contemporary historical source. In c AD 731, the Venerable Bede wrote that a miracle had taken place in a monastery by the river Dacore, and high-quality stone sculpture, dating to the ninth and tenth centuries, added empirical evidence. In 1982, excavations to the west of the churchyard, and in its northern extension, found evidence of early medieval activity, and between 1983 and 1985, a cemetery of at least 230 graves was recorded, along with at least two buildings. Whilst almost no human bone survived the aggressively acidic soil conditions, the orientation of the graves, and the lack of finds, indicated a Christian population. Evidence of wooden ‘chests’, with fine iron fittings, suggested a rite peculiar to high-status burials in the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria. Window glass, similar to that from Jarrow, and an assemblage of metalwork, including a gold ring and a stylus, add weight to its importance.
The rise and fall of the late Iron Age royal site at Stanwick, North Yorkshire
by Professor Colin Haselgrove
The earthwork complex at Stanwick west of Darlington enclosing nearly 3 km2 is one of the largest prehistoric fortifications in Europe. The first occupation dates to around c 80 BC and the settlement soon developed into a regional centre, characterised by its monumental timber buildings and far-flung contacts. In the mid-1st century AD, the 7km-long perimeter earthwork was constructed, which together with the unusual Roman imports from this phase, indicates that the complex was probably the seat of Cartimandua, the client ruler of the Brigantes in the period following the Claudian invasion. Stanwick itself was abandoned before the Roman army occupied northern England, but over the last 20 years new discoveries on other Iron Age sites in the environs have begun to provide an unexpected picture of conquest period activity in the area and of the real nature of the extended settlement complex.
The East Coast War Channels in the First World War
by Dr Antony Firth
A fierce battle was fought on the east coast of England throughout the First World War, often within just a few miles of the shore. The battle was conducted principally between German U-boats and Allied merchant ships, supported by minor warships such as requisitioned trawlers. The remains of the battle still stand: there are perhaps a thousand shipwrecks from the First World War surviving on the seabed between the Thames and the border with Scotland. This presentation sets out the results of work by Fjordr Ltd funded by Historic England to investigate this forgotten battle, highlighting new data on the wrecks themselves and outlining some of the insights they provide into the conduct of the First World War at sea.
New Routes to the Past: discoveries by road and light rail scheme archaeology in Ireland
by Rónán Swan
In the past sixteen years, Ireland has undergone significant and transformative growth with the development of a new motorway network with the construction and expansion of its motorway and primary road network and with the construction and development of a new light rail system within Dublin city. More than 2500 archaeological sites have been excavated, relating to all periods since the Mesolithic and from all parts of the country. While some previously known sites were excavated the vast majority were unknown or forgotten. As a result of this work new not only have new site types been discovered but this work has provided the opportunity to test and explore many hypotheses and models of past settlement and activity. This paper will reflect on how major infrastructural development can contribute to the understanding and appreciation of our archaeological heritage.
3 p.m. Early Career lectures
The origins and symbolism of the Great Gatehouse at Battle Abbey
by Dr Michael Shapland (Archaeology South-East)
Recent recording work at the Great Gatehouse of Battle Abbey, East Sussex represented the first thorough investigation of this famous building. It originated in the Norman period as part of a complex of prominent structures marking the main entrance to the abbey precinct, including a gateway-chapel dedicated to St John and a possible courthouse. The original gatehouse was remodelled on a grand scale c. 1338, and the present civic courthouse constructed in the late 16th century. The gatehouse and its attendant suite of entrance structures to the abbey were interpreted as a complex symbolic of martial power and temporal lordship which doubled as a metaphor for the entrance to heaven.
Online catalogue of Ostrogothic coinage
by Dr Elena Baldi (University College London (Institute of Archaeology) )
Thanks to their quite sophisticated culture that had been long in contact with the Roman world, the Ostrogoths’ monetary system was the most elaborate amongst those introduced by the Germanic kingdoms that settled within the regions left after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Drawing from the British Museum online work carried out on 2010, this project aspires at creating a Europe-wide database, with the intent to recording all the coins that are documented within museum collections throughout Europe, but also including the numerous finds from the archaeological record. This project aims at creating a comprehensive online catalogue that will be available for scholars and public outreach. More importantly, this work will also enable in-depth analysis and interpretation of some specific issues that are not fully understood, in a comprehensive study of the coins of the Kingdom of the Ostrogoths (493-554).
An Object Biography of Engraved Limestone Plaquettes from the Magdalenian Site of Montastruc, southern France
by Andy Needham (University of York)
The paper discusses the life history of a series of 53 engraved limestone plaquettes from the Late Upper Palaeolithic rockshelter of Montastruc, south-central France, dating to c. 15,000 BP. Low-powered microscopy was used alongside 3D models, produced via a MechScan whitelight macro 3D scanner, to facilitate the analysis of a suite of naturalistic animal engravings on the plaquettes. The methods facilitated design recognition, and the analysis of phasing and order of engraved lines, the results of which are discussed. These technical methods were used alongside an object biography approach, infused with insights derived from contemporary hunting and gathering communities, focusing on aspects of non-western ontology. Taken together, these approaches facilitated a wider appreciation of plaquette manufacture, use, and deposition.
5 p.m. The Lost 12th-Century Choir of York Minster Reconstructed
by Dr Stuart Harrison
For many years the lost 12th-century choir of York Minster has been seen a possible key building in the development of Early Gothic in the north of England. Recently a new study of the evidence from excavations, the standing fabric and detached architectural fragments has enabled a better understanding of this complex building. The plan of the choir has been established for the first time and can be shown to derive from that of the abbey of St Bertin in St Omer. The crypt and main elevations have now been reconstructed and show that the choir incorporated some of the latest Gothic detailing deriving from north west France and Flanders. Its use of Purbeck Marble for shafts and piers and the design of the high vaulting with quadripartite and sexpartite designs parallels that of Canterbury some twenty years later. It was clearly one of the earliest buildings in England to use Gothic design and detailing.
10 May: the President’s lecture
A brief history of RAI Presidents
by Professor Timothy Champion
Since its emergence as a separate organisation in 1845, the RAI has had thirty-five Presidents. The changing identity and role of successive Presidents serves as important evidence for the changing nature of archaeology over the past two centuries as it developed from a fashionable pastime to an academic discipline and an area of professional expertise and practice. For the first eighty years the presidents were all amateurs: all but one were members of the aristocracy, and most were very active in Tory politics; some were highly knowledgeable about archaeology, others appear to have had little interest or understanding. From the 1920s, Presidents were increasingly drawn from the academic world, though not all would now be recognised as archaeologists. Since the 1940s, Presidents have come from the ranks of professional archaeologists, mostly from the university, museum and government service sectors, though there have only been two female Presidents. The lecture will also explore the changing role of the Presidents over this period.