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Meetings

The Winter meeting programme 2018-19 is shown below.  Visitors are very welcome at the meetings. Please note speakers are booked many months in advance and sometimes have to cancel at short notice. Although we always try to find another speaker the talk may be on a different subject.

MEETINGS: 7.30pm at Ann Rose Hall, Greyfriars Community Centre, Christchurch Road, Ringwood BH24 1DW

MEETING FEES:- Members £2.00, Visitors £3.50

ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION:- Adult £10.00, Full-time Student £5.00

ENQUIRIES TO:- The Chairman, Mark Vincent 01425 473677 or use the Contact Us page.

AVON VALLEY ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY IS A REGISTERED CHARITY NO. 289516

2018

5th September 2018: Wessex – from Roman Civitas to Anglo-Saxon Shire
Speaker: Dr Bruce Eagles

In this talk I should like to draw particular attention – though inevitably I can do this only very succinctly – to five themes which lie at the heart of my book:

  • The definition of the boundaries of the Roman civitates and their influence upon the pattern of the earliest English settlements
  • Ethnicity: who was a ‘Briton’ and who a ‘Saxon’ in the turbulent world that followed the collapse of Roman government?
  • The very marked contrasts between eastern (Berkshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and Wiltshire) and western Wessex (Somerset and Dorset)
  • The definition, development and demise of the territory of the Jutes in southern Hampshire and on the Isle of Wight; and its relationship to the ‘small shire’ of Hamtunscir
  • The relationship of Hamtunscir and other ‘small shires’ to the county of Hampshire as it has been known to us since the time of Domesday Book

3rd October 2018:  Recent Archaeological Work at Old Sarum and its Environs. A Western Suburb?
Speaker:  Kristian Strutt, University of Southampton

This talk will provide an update on the recent geophysical survey and excavation undertaken by the University of Southampton near Old Sarum, providing new information about the location of settlement in the area.

7th November 2018A Load of Old Stones: Imported Axe-heads in the British Neolithic
Speaker:  Dr. Katharine Walker, Visiting Fellow, Bournemouth University

This talk will look at the significant body of stone and flint axe-heads imported into Britain from the Continent which has been poorly understood, overlooked and undervalued in Neolithic studies particularly over the past half century. This is due to a bias against invasion and diffusionist models. I reassess the significance of these objects by establishing a secure evidence base and thinking about their crucial role in helping us to understand Neolithic society. The talk covers Alpine jade, Breton metadolerite, and flint from Scandinavia, and discusses the investigative work needed to establish the credentials of each axe-head.

5th December 2018:  Film night:  The Time Team at Breamore
We will be showing the Time Team episode at Breamore when important Saxon finds were made.  Being (nearly) Christmas, mince pies will be served with the tea and coffee.

2019

2nd January 2019:  Members Evening – “2018 – A vintage year?  Recent aerial and geophysical discoveries in and around the Avon Valley”
Speakers: Mike Gill & Jo Crane

During the summer of 2018, the news was full of sites being revealed as crop marks during the drought conditions.  The Avon Valley was no exception.  Jo will be showing some of the more recent aerial photos taken with his wife Sue, including what did, and what did not appear, as crop marks during the very hot Summer.  Mike will complement this by discussing some amazing sites that have shown up on the latest Google Earth imagery.  There will also be a discussion of follow up geophysical survey using equipment loaned via the LoCATE project, which has allowed us to ground truth some of the crop marks.

6th February 2019:  Druce Farm Roman Villa, near Puddletown
Speaker: Lilian Ladle MBE

Lilian Ladle will speaking about the fantastic excavations she headed up at Druce Farm Roman Villa near Puddletown. The findings at this significant villa have been widely published both nationally and internationally. Taking place from 2013 to 2018, they have just ended (in theory!). Recent excavations have also revealed an incredible Neolithic structure and associated pits.

6th March 2019:  Spitfires of the Seas, Coastal Forces During the Second World War
Speaker: Steve Fisher

Steve Fisher, formerly of the Maritime Archaeology Trust, is working on a project with the New Forest National Park Authority recording the work of Coastal Forces during the war.

3rd April 2019:  Orkney and Beyond
Speaker: Ben Buxton, Curator of Wareham Museum

Archaeologist Ben Buxton, curator of Wareham museum, will be speaking about his long term involvement with the archaeology of the remote Scottish islands. Ben first explored the Barra Isles in the 1970s. Later, while studying for a degree in archaeology, he investigated the archaeology and history of Mingulay. In 1995 ‘Mingulay: An Island and its People’ was published by Birlinn. This was joint winner of the Michaelis-Jena Ratcliffe Prize for Folklife in 1997.

1st May 2019: Annual General Meeting followed by a talk by one of our members

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Events

As well as a high quality Winter lecture and meeting series (see the separate Meetings page), other events are arranged for members throughout the year.

Upcoming events are listed on the Upcoming Events page.  Examples of the types of events arranged by AVAS are described below.

Social Events

A number of social events are organised throughout the year, reaching their pinnacle at the annual barbeque in July, normally held at an idyllic spot next to the River Avon.

AVAS BBQ next to the River Avon
AVAS BBQ next to the River Avon

Field Visits

A number of field visits have been arranged for AVAS members.  One example is the visit to a late Roman site revealed by gravel extraction near Ringwood, as shown below.

Field visit to Late Roman site
Field visit to Late Roman site

A field trip is planned for Clearbury hillfort to examine the earthwork remains and contribute to a national survey of hillforts.

Fieldwork

AVAS members can get involved in a range of fieldwork, generally carried out within the valley of the Hampshire Avon.  Most people associate archaeological fieldwork with excavation, but archaeologists use a whole range of different techniques to investigate archaeological remains.

Some of the techniques employed by AVAS members are described below.  You can also read about fieldwork that has been undertaken on the AVAS Blog.

Desktop survey

Even before going out on site, old records and maps can be consulted to understand the history of a location.  Many old maps are now available online;  for example, the National Library of Scotland has scanned a national British set of 6 inch and 1 inch Ordnance Survey maps, along with other map series.  For example, the extract below shows the detail of the survey for Whitsbury hill fort (click on the map to see it in more detail).

Whitsbury hill fort on OS Six Inch 1872 map
Whitsbury hill fort on OS Six Inch 1872 map

Aerial Photography

Aerial photographs have revealed a palimpsest of archaeological remains throughout the Avon Valley, revealed as crop and soil marks.  Crop marks occur where buried features either suppress or promote crop growth, leading to variation in the colour and height of the crops.

The proliferation of online aerial photography has increased the resources available for research.  AVAS supplements this with the use of a model aeroplane, with attached camera.  A couple of members also have access to a private light aircraft.

AVAS members have identified a range of sites using aerial photography, including a possible Neolithic long barrow, numerous ring ditches which probably represent Bronxe Age barrows, as well as a series of enclosures and field systems.  The example below shows two ring ditches near Downton, recently revealed by aerial imagery.

Ring ditches near Downton
Ring ditches near Downton

Field walking

Field walking can be used to determine the distribution of surface finds and help identify new sites.  AVAS was involved in a major survey of the middle Avon Valley which was published in 1995.  This survey revealed a large number of new Prehistoric, Roman and Medieval sites, and helped to demonstrate the density of previous settlement in the Avon Valley.

AVAS members also get involved in more ad hoc surveys, as shown below where finds are being identified.

Fieldwalking Nov 2011

During this particular survey, a broken Palaeolithic stone hand axe was found:

Fieldwalking find Palaeolithic Axe

Geophysics

Geophysics is a technique used to look for anomalies under the ground using electrical currents.  AVAS uses one particular type of geophysics, called resistivity, which measures the variation in an electric current as it passes between two probes in the ground.  Features buried underground such as ditches or walls will cause different readings.

Resistivity survey using AVAS equipment
Resistivity survey using AVAS equipment

Once a grid square has been surveyed, the results can be plotted, using colour to show the variation in the electrical resistance.  The plot below shows a composite plot of a survey done by AVAS members on a possible Neolithic long barrow (click on the plot to enlarge).

Resistivity plot of possible long barrow
Resistivity plot of possible long barrow

Excavation

Excavation is not undertaken lightly, as it is a destructive method of investigating archaeological remains.  AVAS has tended to use excavation to either rescue threatened remains, or as an evaluation tool where the topsoil is removed to get a clearer picture of what is under the ground.  This latter method is particularly effective in investigating anomalies highlighted by geophysics survey.  The photograph below shows AVAS members undertaking one such survey.

AVAS evaluation excavation
AVAS evaluation excavation