Tag Archives: avon valley


The Winter meeting programme 2017-18 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.



6th September 2017:  The Everyday life of the New Forest cottager in the 19th century
Speaker: Mr Stephen Ings

4th October 2017:  Shedding New Light on the New Forest
Speaker:  Lawrence Shaw, Archaeological Officer, New Forest National Park Authority

This talk will bring us up to date with the latest findings from a project using Lidar data to enhance our knowledge of archaeological sites within the New Forest.

1st November 2017: “Ancient Britons to Anglo-Saxons”
Speaker: Mr. Jim Barber

6th December 2017: “Three hundred miles in the footsteps of Vespasian – Recent work at Lake Farm legionary fortress.”
Speaker: Paul Cheetham, Senior Lecturer in Archaeological Science, Bournemouth University

The talk will discuss how the recent work has changed our understanding of the relationship of the fortress at Lake Farm to the Roman port at Hamworthy and its consequences for our understanding of the geography of Roman Britain in the south-west.


3rd January 2018:  Members Evening – Flint Story – the use of flint as a tool making material.  Steve and Chrissie will be bring along flints for us to learn about and handle – see poster below…

7th February 2018: The Palaeolithic of the Avon Valley
Speaker: Dr Ella Egberts, Bournemouth University

7th March 2018: ‘New Light on the Knowlton Complex’
Speaker: Dr Martin Green

The ceremonial complex at Knowlton is the least well known and investigated Neolithic – Early Bronze Age group of monuments in Wessex.  However, due to recent excavations it is now known to contain at least seven henge monuments and over 170 round barrows / ring ditches including the largest prehistoric round mound in Dorset.

Martin will give the background to the complex before describing work undertaken recently in a joint collaboration with Southampton University.  This included the discovery of a remarkable early Beaker period burial.

4th April 2018: ‘Life, death and feasting – 5600 years of occupation at Worth Matravers’
Speaker: Lilian Ladle

This tiny site has revealed extraordinary archaeology which included: part of an Early Neolithic enclosure, Middle Bronze Age pottery clamp, a Late Bronze Age house, a Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age dark-eareth midden site, Two Iron Age houses and contemporary pits, a Roman barn with infant burials and a Post-Roman cemetery.

2nd May 2018: Annual General Meeting followed by a talk by Mike Gill:  “Fire pits, barrows and bulldozers:  recent geophysics surveys in and around the Avon Valley”

AVAS has been participating in the LoCATE project, run jointly by Bournemouth University and the New Forest National Park Authority.  This project aims to provide access to and training in professional survey equipment.  Over the past year and a half, AVAS has undertaken a number of surveys on a diverse range of sites, including possible long barrows, round barrows and Iron Age and Roman enclosures.  This talk will report on the impressive results that have been obtained.



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.


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 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 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