A Touching Bronze Age Burial

on Wednesday, 30 January 2013. Posted in Archaeology

An archaeological excavation was undertaken by Wessex Archaeology on an area that was proposed for a new magazine store (planning number S/2010/1865) at DTSL Porton Down. The fieldwork is completed and the initial post-excavation work has been done, so I thought it would be interesting to talk about some of the results. Readers should be aware that some of this blog will talk about and have pictures of human burials, including those of infants.


There had been previous work on this site to evaluate the archaeological potential, so the site had results for geophysics and trenched evaluation. The main features identified through the evaluation and the excavation were two long ditches, one a ‘Wessex Linear’; a small barrow with associated cremation and inhumation burials and a further inhumation burial associated with the smaller ditch.

 

50 Years Ago – Wiltshire’s Big Freeze of 1963

on Friday, 25 January 2013. Posted in Seasons

Just a few of us at the History Centre were at school during the blizzards and Arctic-seeming conditions of early 1963 and can reflect on how slight recent snowfalls seem! It was Wiltshire’s worst blizzard for 80 years and surpassed the really bad winter of 1947. Some snow had fallen on Boxing Day; we missed a white Christmas as usual, while a further 6 inches fell over the weekend on 29th and 30th December. This was a proper Christmas holiday from school; snowmen were built and furious snowball fights peppered the streets and parks, although drifting snow meant that some families had to dig themselves out of their houses. Most people had plenty of food left over from Christmas and coal and wood for the open fires that still warmed most houses. Many people were still accustomed to walking to work and those that weren’t normally didn’t live far enough away to prevent them working.

 

The Archvist’s friend and other Wiltshire Inventors

on Thursday, 24 January 2013. Posted in Wiltshire People

I am often guided by those twin pillars of research: serendipity and curiosity. It was these two trusty old friends that led me Henry Charles “inky” Stephens (1841 – 1918). While tidying my desk as part of my New Year resolution I was left with just a few paper clips and two rulers on the work surface, which reminded me of a patent I had spotted in our indexes for “the parallel ruler” (yes, sadly someone had invented this before me).  The patent seems to enable …er…two parallel lines to be drawn, more seriously it was used by navigators to draw parallel lines on charts and originally invented by Fabrizio Mordente in 1584 and others sought to improve it. But there was more, with the documents were further patents for inkstands and an adjustable pencil, plus specifications for various ink manufacture and the chemistry behind them. Of course, what I had started to look at was part of an archive relating to the Cholderton estate, once owned by the family and an individual whose single small invention arguably helped change the course of writing.

Olympic Park reveals new finds

on Tuesday, 22 January 2013. Posted in Conservation

Excavations at the Olympic Park site by Museum of London Archaeology Service (MoLAS, now MoLA) and Pre-Construct Archaeology working as a joint venture (MoLAS-PCA), and RPS Planning and Development and AOC Archaeology Group produced a number of waterlogged finds of wood and leather, some of which underwent archaeological conservation at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre as part of the post-excavation programme undertaken by Wessex Archaeology.

 

Tiddly Pom... Some Wiltshire Animal Tales

on Friday, 11 January 2013. Posted in Wiltshire Tales

I’ve been delving in our archives, on the hunt for some notable animals in Wiltshire’s History, and I’ve got a couple vying for that top spot. First, and being a fan of the good old British moggy, I was pleased to have the Marlborough church cat brought to my attention. Yes, it is commemorated in stone, but it seems that it really did exist. Visitors to St Mary’s Church in Marlborough will be able to pick out the outline of a cat on the south porch. This corbel, dating to the fifteenth century, commemorates a church cat that saved her kittens from a fire. Perhaps the cat was originally employed to catch the church mice, but it goes into our top ten as our most heroic animal in Wiltshire’s history.

A Different Old King Cole

on Thursday, 20 December 2012. Posted in Seasons

As the charity Christmas card shops pop up in every town centre and sales of the bits and pieces to ‘make your own’ increase each year, perhaps I’d like to take a look back to the instigator of this industry which generates over £200 million each year.

A Different Old King Cole
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