Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Signal Station research

DDCAG are undertaking a research project on Signal Stations in Dorset, from Roman to Saxon, Armada to Napoleonic and Naval stations. .

These sites are often shown on maps as ‘beacons’ or ‘telegraphs’.

For example there is a telegraph station shown near Minterne Magna with possible locations at Chilcombe Hill, Winterborne Steepleton and various locations associated with coastal defences in the Napoleonic period.

The process will involve naming the sites, locating their position using grid references, possible start and end of use, the height of the Station, method of communication (smoke, semaphore, mirror etc), visible remains, any record in literature and a general description. For example:

Black Down Fortlet /possible signal station, 50.69077, -2.56303, possible Roman AD 43, 400, height not known perhaps 5m, possible smoke fire, no visible remains, site excavated by Bill Putnam (ref xx, 1970) , (Ian Hewitt ref zz, 2016) and surveyed by Dorset Diggers (ref xxyy).

We have volunteers who will be working on areas – Weymouth, Portland and Purbeck; Sturminster Newton, Blandford Forum and Shaftsbury; Bridport to Lyme Regis; Poole and hte east; Axminster, Chard, Crewkerne, Yeovil, Sherborne and Beaminster.

We are looking to have visits to the sites that have been confirmed as Stations as well as visiting the Royal Signals Museum in Blandford.

If anyone would like to help out please contact us.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Lufton villa thriller!

Chris & Pam went to see his old digger mate James, now working at Newcastle University, digging with his students at Lufton, just outside Yeovil.

Dr James Gerrard, Newcastle University

They are re-digging a villa site first looked at by teachers and pupils of a local school in the 1960s. Here is what it would have looked like:
 As you can see it has an octagonal bath house. Only four are known in the UK. Unfortunately the mosaics mentioned in the '60s are gone, but the walls are substantial.

This is the front wall.
This is the back wall.

This villa was so rich it had its own water pipes, whereas other villas had wells. Considering that they have only had four weeks to dig the site they have done marvels.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Wimborne History Festival

DDCAG and Ancient Wessex Network combined to show ancient crafts and archaeology at this new event. We were kept very busy all day and lots of kids learnt how to dig and interpret artefacts.

I'm sure we will be back there next year.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Oh Brother where art thou?

DDCAG members and locals interested in their village heritage went to Hentridge yesterday to look over the possible site of a Benedictine priory that was abandoned in the late 1400s. We are planning to do geophiz on two fields with two more a possibility. Hopefully we will find some foundations and then plan for a targeted dig. This could be the start of something big which could keep us busy for several years. Keep looking in.  

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Geophiz survey

Members have just completed a geophiz survey of a manor house in West Dorset. No pics of the house or of substantial medieval finds from the owners excavation can be shown before permission is obtained, but here are the hard working Dorset Diggers in full flow! Results to follow.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Hidden Heritage Conference

At the conference (where I only heard the morning sessions) we had some interesting papers on various subjects to do with aspects of our historic environment that are overlooked somewhat.

From the archaeological point of view David Bruce presented 'Hidden in Plain View', about seeing our woods and trees as part of the human interaction with natural resources throughout our evolution. Most of our ancient woodland is not considered as important as historic gardens, but they are used and created by human hands and just as important in understanding how humans formed our present landscape.

Miles Russell, of Bournemouth University, showed how new technology can increase our knowledge of ancient people through sculpture. Called 'Finding Nero' he told us of the use of 3D laser scanning that cuts through grime and repairs to show the faces of these ancient works of art. Many busts of emperors have been misnamed, for example the famous one of Claudius in the British Museum is, in fact, Nero.

The shape of a chin, the brow ridge and even the hair style, can be seen in crisp detail with this technology. Also, the individual hammer blows of ancient defacing of the unpopular emperor.

James Wright, Museum of London, brought us 'Cultural Anxieties and ritual protection in early modern status houses'. He showed that scorch marks on timbers around doors, fireplaces and roof timbers are to keep out demons and spirits in the 16th & 17th c. right up to the 20th! They could come through cracks like drafts, apparently. Hence putting up stockings over the fireplace and touching wood for luck. If you go in any old house chances are you will find these marks.

Other papers were the role of volunteers, Poole's maritime archaeology, protected shipwreck sites and how we should, or should not, restore or rebuild town monuments.

Some of our heritage is unseen, unknown, undervalued and untold. This conference would be some way to shine a light on theses aspects, as much as on our stately homes, ancient monuments and churches.      

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Resistance is useless? No it's not.

Yesterday some of the group were back in Nether Compton investigating a curious flat surface in a gentleman's back garden. It gave us the chance to practice using our Resistivity meter and survey the site. We put the training by the team at Geoflo to good use. We set out a 10 meter grid on a north/south alignment and got to work.
Hopefully we can get some useful data from the site, I will post our results soon!