Archaeological Monitoring at Old Buckenham
Norvic Archaeology undertook archaeological monitoring of groundworks for residential development adjacent to All Saints Church, Old Buckenham, Norfolk. The remains of a 15th to 16th century cobbled yard and a flint & mortar walled culvert were uncovered, along with similarly dated waste pits. Pottery and finds indicative of a relatively affluent late medieval to early-post-medieval household were collected, including a decorated brooch, a small copper-alloy weight from a nested set of ‘cup-weights’ and a pair of iron scissors for the cutting of cloth.
Caistor Roman Town Project - Season Three
This season the Caistor Project volunteers proved themselves up to the challenge of excavating often highly complex archaeology, with some pretty amazing results. Several episodes of impressive construction and conflagration of the Forum were uncovered and much light shed on the original excavation methods used by Atkinson in the 1930s. Burnt timbers, piles of charred grain and fragments of painted wall plaster were among just some of the discoveries, along with the surprise appearance of a Palaeolithic handaxe thought to have been curated in the Roman period for its talismanic properties.
Trenching in the north-west corner of the town was supervised by Giles, where a large enclosure identified on the Magnetometer Survey was investigated. This was initially thought to be some form of Saxon reuse of the area but the evidence pointed firmly to use during the lifespan of the Roman town. The ditch forming the enclosure contained large volumes of butchered cattle bone and may have served as a place to bring livestock inside the walls prior to slaughter. Noteworthy finds include an Icenian coin, a near complete pottery ‘baby-feeder’ (see photo) and prehistoric flints from below the level of the Roman road.
Archaeological work at Argyle Street Play Area, Norwich
Norvic Archaeology was commissioned by Norwich City Council, to undertake archaeological work on the Argyle Street Play Area – the former site of St Peter Southgate church. A numbers of burials were carefully excavated by a Norvic team for reburial elsewhere on the site to allow for the installation of foundations for new play equipment. Various finds collected during the work include Late Saxon to post-medieval pottery, a small number of prehistoric flints and a late medieval ‘Ship-Penny’ Jeton.
Famous for Five Minutes!
Final filming was carried out with the History Cold Case Team in Norwich’s Guildhall where the amazing results were revealed to Giles and other local historians and archaeologists (see below for more on this). All is revealed in Episode 1, Season 2 of History Cold Case ‘The Bodies in the Well’ to be aired on the BBC on 23rd June 2011.
Giles also appeared in a Time Team special ‘Boudicca’s Lost Tribe’ where he managed to sound coherent even on the third take!
Iron Age Day!
Norvic Archaeology created a fun-filled day of learning about Norfolk history using the story the Iceni for two classes at Horsford Infant School. The children produced their own hoard to hide from the advancing Roman Army by minting their own Iceni coins, making torcs and Iron Age pottery as well as weaving, grinding flour and trying on Iron Age clothing. The children also excavated the remains of a mysterious Iron Age warrior complete with spear, torc and animal skulls – could she have been Queen Boudicca herself?
Time Detective Days
Norvic Archaeology provided several Archaeology Time Detective days to local junior schools wanting to learn more about the past by getting ‘hands on with history’. The students took on various activities and challenges including solving Olaf Forkbeard’s rune stone, carving their own runes, learning about geophysics, the evolution of everyday objects and trying out their archaeology skills on a mock excavation.
Chicken Farm, Moulton St Mary, Norfolk
The poultry farm is located within a complex of Iron Age to Roman period field systems and enclosure cropmarks. Archaeological monitoring of two major extensions to an existing poultry shed successfully characterised several linear features previously only identified by aerial photography. The majority are suspected to be Romano-British whereas several pits and two other ditches encountered appeared to be of a much older date. Worked flint collected during the project dates from the Late Neolithic to Bronze Age, although a few examples may pre-date this activity, including a small fragment from a finely crafted early Neolithic tool such as a knife or sickle blade.
Duke Street, Norwich
The owner of a private property required an archaeologist to monitor alterations and groundworks to the rear of this Grade II Listed early 19th-century house. An open well of fine flint construction was uncovered which is thought to predate the house and oak timbers recycled from an earlier building were exposed during internal works, which included a base plate from a stud wall or window assembly. Two reused worked stone blocks of late medieval to early post-medieval date were noted in the house foundations.
St Mary's Church, Great Witchingham
Norvic Archaeology was commissioned by the owners of a late 17th century Grade II Listed cottage adjacent to St Mary's cemetery to carry out Archaeological Monitoring of necessary groundworks. An area of hitherto unknown and unmarked graves was discovered and trenching also revealed a set of buried steps leading to a blocked doorway in the corner of the cottage. An intriguing assemblage of late Victorian rubbish belonging to former occupiers of the cottage included a bottle of 'Edward's "Uzon" Brilliantine hair oil and a miniature doll's chamber pot. The full results of this project can be found here in the form of a Norvic Archaeology report.
Postwick Village Hall Wind Turbine
Norvic Archaeology carried out an excavation and subsequent archaeological monitoring of groundworks on behalf of Postwick with Witton Parish Council. Human remains of unknown date had been discovered here in the 1990s during pipe-laying through the sports field; no evidence of additional burials was encountered during the project, the remains perhaps representative of a more isolated burial or small scale funerary site. Finds collected included prehistoric flint adding to limited evidence for Mesolithic activity for the parish as a whole.
The full results of this project can be found here in the form of a Norvic Archaeology report.
BBC History Cold Case
In 2004 Giles was involved in the NAU project at the site of Chapelfield Shopping Centre in Norwich. He excavated the base of a medieval well containing the skeletal remains of 17 individuals. The remains were then analysed by Francesca Boghi (formerly of the Norfolk Archaeological Unit) and proved to be a mix of six adults and eleven children. Initial thoughts were that it was a mass plague burial but radiocarbon dating indicated an earlier than expected 12th to 13th century date. The remains are now the focus of further investigation by Professor Sue Black OBE and her History Cold Case team, forming an episode in the second series of the popular forensic archaeology TV show. Giles had the chance to explain the shocking discovery to the team and took part in filming at the site of the well. The show hopes to analyse the remains in even greater detail using state of the art forensic and genetic tests to perhaps solve the mystery behind this highly unusual mass grave. The episode is scheduled to air at the beginning of this summer.
Hellesdon Cluster Archaeology Days
Giles has recently completed a series of Archaeology Days for several primary schools in the Hellesdon School Cluster. Year 1 and 2 children were recruited as Time Detectives to undertake a series of hands on activities and challenges, all created to teach the children how archaeologists find out about people from the past. With the help of teachers and parents, the children solved the mystery of a Roman burial, got to grips with ancient artefacts, decoded Egyptian hieroglyphs and examined 'Roman rubbish' as clues to learn what life was like for a family nearly 2000 years ago.
King Street, Great Yarmouth
Norvic Archaeology was commissioned to undertake Archaeological Monitoring of groundworks for a residential development located in the medieval core of Great Yarmouth. Despite the presence of medieval to post-medieval layers of archaeology and the unexpected discovery of a Victorian well shaft and cistern the site work ran smoothly. The full results of this project can be found here in the form of a Norvic Archaeology report.
Caistor Roman Town Project - Season Two
Giles again joined the supervisory team for the Caistor Roman Town Project for the second season of excavation. This year the excavation was concentrated inside the walls of the Roman town, the first major investigation to do so since the 1930s.
Thanks to the hard work of this years volunteers, the excavation uncovered the well preserved remains of a roadway in the north-east corner of the town, a sequence of buried cobbled surfaces, a wattle and daub hearth and numerous pits yielding some exciting finds including a ritually deposited complete Mortarium. The investigation has generated literally thousands of finds including masses of pottery, animal bone, coins and other artefacts which will all help to shed light on the nature of the town's development and history. An interim report on the results of the excavation will be available in 2011.
The 2010 dig blog can be found here and BBC coverage of the excavation here. The Time Team crew were also on hand to record the excavation and a documentary style program about the dig and the site will be broadcast in 2011.
Ludham Boat Excavation
Giles was part of a team of local freelance archaeologists who had the muddy pleasure of excavating the surprising and rare remains of a Saxon wooden boat that was discovered during flood alleviation work on the Norfolk Broads. The log hewn boat was surrounded by animal skulls and may represent some form of pagan ritual. It is currently being conserved in York with the intention that it will be displayed at the Norwich Castle Museum.
Horsford Infant School 'Roman Archaeology Day'
Horsford CE VC Infant School commissioned Norvic Archaeology to create and run a 'Roman Archaeology Day' for Year 2 Pupils involving the excavation of a mock Roman villa discovered beneath their playground. For more photos see the Education and Outreach page.
For the archive of past projects please click here.