Articles tagged with: prehistoric

A New Website for Archaeology

on Monday, 18 March 2019. Posted in Archaeology, History Centre

Do you have an interest in archaeology? Would you like to know what has been found in your local area, or want to know more about how people lived in Wiltshire in the past? If so, then you might be interested to access our new website that allows you to research the finds, buildings, sites and monuments that exist on the county Historic Environment Record (HER).

Remains of Clarendon Palace – A Medieval Royal Site

The Historic Environment Record (HER) is a fantastic resource that holds information on all the currently known archaeology for Wiltshire and Swindon. This includes everything from Palaeolithic flint tools that are half a million years old to World War I practice trenches created only a hundred years ago – as well as everything in between! Using the HER can be fun and helps to guide your research, as it can tell you about the character and date of archaeological sites/finds as well as how they have been investigated and where you can find more (such as in journals, books and reports).

The new website allows people to easily search the archaeology of Wiltshire and presents data on both a map and dynamic database. To have a go, click to visit the HER homepage

Online HER homepage

The new website is easier to use than our previous one and allows you to search by the following themes:
• Unique identifier number – so you can find records you’ve accessed before…
• Keyword – to find particular find/site types – such as castles or axeheads!
• Site name – for place names you know like your parish church or famous sites like Stonehenge!
• Period – so you can see all Roman artefacts or all prehistoric archaeology we know about…
• Grid reference – if you know exactly where you want to research - whether rural or urban!

Online HER search bar

You can also browse by navigating the interactive map – which can show both Ordnance Survey mapping or aerial photography. You can pan and zoom using the tools and the grid reference of your location handily shows at the top in case you need it!

Celebrating 5 years with the Wiltshire Archaeology Service

on Monday, 02 October 2017. Posted in Archaeology

At the end of August I celebrated five years with the archaeology team here at the History Centre in Chippenham.  I thought this a suitable milestone in which to reflect on some of the most exciting discoveries in the central part of Wiltshire (the area I cover), discovered through the advice we give on planning applications.

The Government set out its requirements for the planning system in the National Planning Policy Framework in 2012.  Section 12 deals with conserving and enhancing the historic environment.  The advice we give on planning applications follows this guidance which needs to be relevant, proportionate and necessary. It is important to understand the significance of heritage assets impacted by development, which is why we ask for a proportionate level of investigation to be undertaken prior to determining applications.  Various stages of investigation are carried out. To begin with an archaeological Desk Based Assessment (DBA) pulls together existing information, using as a baseline the Historic Environment Record and other sources where available such as historic maps, aerial photographs, field surveys and site assessment.  The DBA helps to establish the potential for archaeological remains to be present within a development site. Sometimes, there is little existing information available because there have been few investigations within the area.  In such cases geophysical survey is a useful method for revealing unknown archaeological remains within a site.  We get greyscale plots and interpretation plans to help understand what potentially is of archaeological origin. In most cases we ask for trial trench evaluation following geophysical survey. Trial trenching enables us to understand the significance of the archaeological remains which will be impacted by development.  Depending on the heritage asset’s significance (to use NPPF terminology) we may ask for a site to be preserved in situ i.e. not impacted by development, or preserved by record i.e. it gets excavated, the remains assessed and then reported and/or published. The following examples show previously unknown settlements which have been found through such methods.

Westbury
Trial trench evaluation followed a geophysical survey in 2015 which discovered a number of features dating to the Romano-British period including a number of trackways and ditches. The site has yet to be developed.

Melksham
Trial trench evaluation followed a geophysical survey in 2014 which confirmed the presence of a Romano-British settlement. The site is currently being excavated, more detail to follow.

 

At another site in Melksham, a geophysical survey identified a number of features and the trial trench evaluation confirmed remains dating to the prehistoric, Roman, medieval and post-medieval periods. The site has yet to be developed.

Trowbridge
Geophysical survey across a large proposed development site highlighted two sites of particular interest.  Trial trench evaluation confirmed a concentration of early Romano-British ditched enclosures associated with trackways and pits and posthole features which appear to represent settlement remains. The relationship between the two sites is of interest. More ephemeral prehistoric activity was represented in other parts of the site which the geophysical survey did not pick up.

Wiltshire Sarsen Stones - a Comic

on Saturday, 01 July 2017. Posted in Archaeology, Wiltshire Places

We are delighted to share this comic by Katy Whitaker, Doctoral Researcher at the University of Reading about where Wiltshire's Sarsen stones come from (some of the theories are pretty outlandish!):

I am researching the past and present use of sarsen stone, those great grey boulders we are familiar with at Stonehenge and Avebury.  Sarsens are a special part of the Marlborough Downs landscape.  They are best known in prehistoric monuments.   During the Neolithic in the period c3,900 - 2,500 BC sarsens were used in other ways, too.  This includes as quern stones for grinding grains into flour; in burials; as tools such as hammers; as boundary markers and laying out the first fields.  Archaeologists haven't researched the stone in its own right before, so my project does just that. I am based at the University of Reading, with support from the University of Southampton, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).   The Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre is a partner in the AHRC scheme, and my project will be using archaeological data and archive material from the Centre.

Katy Whitaker

Doctoral Researcher, University of Reading

Archaeology in Wiltshire Conference

on Monday, 13 April 2015. Posted in Archaeology

The third archaeology conference looks to be an exciting day showcasing some of the new discoveries and research over the last year in Wiltshire which is to be held on 18 April at the Corn Exchange in Devizes. It coincides with the International Day for Monuments and Sites, the theme of which is The Heritage of Commemoration. Some members of our team will be there on the day with displays so come say hello and find out about ways of getting involved such as volunteering opportunities in the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site

Get your walking boots on!

on Friday, 02 May 2014. Posted in Archaeology

The Archaeology Team are preparing again to organise some events to celebrate the annual Festival of British Archaeology. Due to poplar demand, this year the team are organising three weekend archaeological walks to different areas of archaeological interest across Wiltshire.

Sunday 13th July:  guided walk to the Easton Grey Roman settlement near Malmesbury with Melanie Pomeroy-Kellinger and Clare King

Sunday 20th July: guided walk in the Stonehenge landscape with Rachel Foster and Tom Sunley (please note this walk not include a visit to the visitor centre and stone circle which can be done separately)

Saturday 26th July: guided walk to Knapp Hill, Adam’s Grave in the Vale of Pewsey with Faye Glover and Emma Whitcombe.

The walks will include some of Wiltshire’s best known prehistoric monuments in the Stonehenge landscape, including Woodhenge, Durrington Walls and the Stonehenge Avenue. The walk in the Pewsey Vale will include the magnificent views from Adam’s Grave Neolithic Long Barrow and Knap Hill. The walk at Easton Grey will focus on the Roman remains in North Wiltshire and the Cotswolds and will include a walk along the Fosse Way Roman Road.

Prehistoric Wiltshire Galleries

on Friday, 29 November 2013. Posted in Museums

I was delighted to be amongst over 200 people in Devizes on Monday to celebrate the official opening of the new Prehistoric Wiltshire galleries at the Wiltshire Museum.

The culmination of years of planning, fundraising and hard graft by staff and volunteers has allowed the museum to put together a suite of galleries that any museum would be proud of.

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