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Archive for the tag “archaeology”

Into the archives…

On Friday the 12th of October I finally got round to visiting the Shakespeare Museum, Library and Archive Collections who had kindly provided me with lots of information on Anglo-Saxon archaeology digs across Warwickshire, specifically the ones at Bidford and Alveston. I also had a read of the Wasperton dig too as there was an amazing book in the reading room about it.

Here is a map to show the distribution of pagan Anglo-Saxon cemeteries in the Avon valley where the archaeology digs took place. By contrast with the sparse, peripheral Anglo-Saxon archaeology of Staffordshire, that of Warwickshire shows the valley of the Avon in the southern half of the county, to have been an important focus of pagan burial practices. Map from ‘The West Midlands in the Early Middle Ages’ by Gelling, M. (1992):

The collection is situated right by where I work, at the Shakespeare Centre itself, and looks after the largest collection of Shakespeare related materials in the UK. Their collection includes rare manuscripts, books, photographs, artefacts and works of art. One of their great treasures is the First Folio which is believed to have belonged to Shakespeare. Obviously the collection isn’t all about Shakespeare though- it is a local history archive too with records dating back to the 12th C- hence why they have archaeology records and artefacts…with items like this beauty…

Anglo-Saxon Large Square-Headed Bronze Brooch

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Digging for history

I’ve only just managed to find time to post about my escapades on Saturday, but here it is!

I was invited out for the day by the Bloxwich Research and Metal Detector Club. I had never been metal detecting before, so it was a great chance to have a go! I was really excited about spending the day out and about hunting for items, and it was really sunny so we were fortunate with the weather. I didn’t even need my coat really as the sun was that hot. Considering it is October it was a rarity to even see the sodding sun!

So, back to the day! I had great fun, mostly due to the company who were a great laugh. I am sure I was the source of much of the amusement as I didn’t have the strength to actually dig to find items- in my defense  the ground was incredibly hard. I couldn’t get my spade to break the surface :(. Luckily I had a lot of help with that bit. Hehe.

My arms killed after doing it for four and a half hours- in fact, they still hurt, and I feel as though I have been weightlifting for a few days. But at least I got a workout! So, I’m sure you all want to know what I actually found…

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I particularly love the vintage OXO sign I found. That’s going to get framed and put in my new house for sure. I found a lot of old buttons, that I think are from the Victorian period. There was a beautiful piece of metal which may be either Roman or Anglo-Saxon (the piece with the zig-zag pattern across it) so I need to get that checked out at Birmingham Museum. Some of the coins I found were really in a bad state, but the large one that you can hardly see much detail on, which was examined by one of the guys I was with, might be from the Victorian period.

One of the buttons has a beautiful little bird design on it, which is the Bridgnorth Bird I think. I really need to do some research on these items! If anyone knows what some of the items are, do feel free to comment!!

Anyhoo, I’m hopefully going to do it again in the future, I had a fantastic day out and it was such a laugh.

Recent Roman news

I’ve been writing articles for friends these past few days so I hope my blog wont get neglected too much. Luckily, because I am involved in so many organisations and also friends with such interesting people, I have no end of blog material for posts.

This post is particularly interesting as the story was in the news! The Bloxwich Research and Metal Detector Club, who I have mentioned before when I visited Tamworth, have been busy finding Roman goodies! The whole find, comprising of five brooches and four bronze coins, was unearthed from land near Overseal last month, which reveals the site has a Roman past.

dolphin’-style brooch

Image taken from Burton Mail Newspaper.

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‘Not’ the Staffordshire Hoard…my trip to the Potteries Museum

Well, I decided to go my hometown over the weekend as I had booked my place on a talk at the Potteries Museum, Stoke-on-Trent. As you might have guessed, it was a talk on Anglo-Saxon history. My obsession with this period in history is gradually getting bigger. I have bought numerous new books, become involved with reconstructive archaeology groups, and I’ve been doing my own research too.

I was especially excited about visiting the museum because I haven’t been to Stoke in a while, and I know it has a bit of a reputation, but I’m actually really proud of where I’m from, and the museum did not disappoint me at all. In fact, it exceeded my expectations, both in the permanent gallery spaces, the new exhibitions, and the talk itself.

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A buzz around The Hive

Another day, another tour, but this time I went to Worcester to see the fantastic new library- The Hive. Now I have heard plenty of good things about this place, but have never actually had the chance to see it for myself…until now! Upon first glance, the architecture of the new building really stands out. I was overwhelmed at first, as it veered up at me as I walked around the corner. I was overwhelmed in a good way of course!

Worcestershire County Council and the University of Worcester have worked together to create a new city centre library, history and customer centre for students and also the public. Both the old Public Library and the University Library were outgrowing their premises, and modernisation was needed. After 9 years of planning what has been created is this new combined facility for the whole community to use, drawing people together. The Hive was opened to the public in July of this year, and the students will be coming to Worcester University very soon, so it will be great to see what they make of it!

The Hive The Hive

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Wolverhampton Heritage Open Days

Busy busy busy! I thought it would be a great idea to check out some of the Wolverhampton events, tours and exhibitions happening in the city today. I had a fantastic time, although driving to the city was the scariest experience I’ve had in my car so far- roads of death! I managed to park in the multi-storey right in the centre, then I fumbled my way from the darkness of the underground into the light, emerging right outside the first place on my list to visit. So it all worked out well in the end.

Saint Peter’s Collegiate Church

So, the first place I visited was St. Peter’s Church, a Grade I listed building, which is right in the centre of the city. It is a mix of Early English, Decorated and Perpendicular styles in red sandstone.

St. Peter's Church

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Tour of the archaeology site

This evening I was invited to a tour of the archaeology site I have been working at, led by one of the lead archaeologists. Even though I work there, it was good to get a review of everything that has been discovered in the previous years that I haven’t been there. It also gave me a chance to hear about new developments, including the opening of a new trench on site, which I will hopefully be involved with this weekend!

As well as reviewing all the trenches I listened to the history of the site, which will be presented in a written report and available to read soon. What I didn’t realise till visiting tonight, was just how big Shakespeare’s final house was. Because of what has been discovered through uncovering foundations, New Place was connected to Nash House during the 1530s. In the courtyard they have found evidence of a water source which may well have been shared between the two buildings.

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Tamworth’s Heritage Weekend

I don’t even know where to start with this one! It has been an epic weekend! I decided to go visit Tamworth, a little town in Staffordshire as there was a Heritage Weekend happening. Basically, it was a weekend of celebrating the unique history of Tamworth going back 1400 years.  The activities were centred around Tamworth Castle and the Castle grounds with a living history Saxon encampment, exhibitions, workshops and community stalls. I need to say a big thank you to Æd for telling me about the event! Without him this post wouldn’t even exist!

Tamworth Castle itself is the site of the ancient captial of Mercia and was once home to the King of Mercia’s palace…so, lots of Anglo-Saxon history to celebrate! I bought a book from the gift shop entitled ‘Tamworth: The Ancient Capital of Mercia’ written by Stephen Pollington and I also managed to meet the author that day too!! He was a great guy, very knowledgeable and was attending the Heritage event with his group the Wulfheodenas (a living history society). They had authentic Saxon clothes, and weaponry and were also making foils. Foils were used by the Saxons to decorate their helmets. I took a photograph of one of their helmets (see below).

Helmet from the Wulfheodenas group

And here are my favourite people again…The Thegns of Mercia!

The Thegns of Mercia

I managed to see even more of their items than last time (such as musical instruments, weaponry and runes), and I chatted to other members of the group too. It was so busy, and their stall was attracting crowds of people. I noticed that as soon as they started to talk to people about their role and what they have on show, more people began to cluster and listen in. It was great seeing the public take such a great interest in history.

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A bit of progress

Today (after the torrential rain of Saturday) I went to the archaeology site in Stratford to help out as usual. I thought most of the site would be waterlogged, but I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have to swim to excavate! I have taken some photographs to document a bit of the progress that has been made!

The medieval corridor!

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So, as promised, here are the pictures of the dig site at Stratford…my previous post showed a photograph of the front of Nash House before the digging…

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