Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Diggers at Work

Often in archaeology too much attention is paid to the finds and not enough to the finders. Despite its pretentions as a science, archaeology is a very subjective entity and a great deal of interpretation rests on the shoulders of its most junior practitioners.

Since May 2005 we have been been recording our staff and others at work on our sites.

An initial series of these photos is in the process of being posted here. Please be patient, it would be best to wait until early December to see more than one or two photos.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Upper Coalbrookdale Landscape - update

This project is the latest part of the CHART programme of research into the landscape of Coalbrookdale. Earlier in the autumn we began archaeological investigation of an area above the Darby Houses. This area is now known as the 'Arboretum', and this was laid out and planted in 1805. However it partly overlies an older formal walled garden which is depicted in engravings of the mid-eighteenth century and has disappeared from present-day interpretations or understanding of the landscape.

Detail of a 1759 engraving of the garden by Francois Vivares (IGMT Collections)

Our work involved walkover survey, geophysical survey and excavation. Not only were we trying to establish the survival of remains associated with the eighteenth century garden, but we were also asking questions about its origin.

Resistivity survey in progress - attempting to locate the southern wall.

The excavation work looked at various components of the garden, and discovered previously unidentified elements of the walls and original paths. However the main focus was on the Summer House shown at the top of the garden in the engraving (above). We located the original eighteenth century building, and also discovered evidence for its modification in the nineteenth century.

One of three trenches on the summer house site; original walls appear as infilled foundation trenches.

Further work on this site will be undertaken next year, and we will be seeking volunteers to work on the project. Please email us for further information.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Jackfield Mill Building

This work is now nearly completed. Our analysis of the building during restoration work has revealed a great deal of new information. Previous studies of how the site worked have relied heavily on historical documentary sources or on incomplete inspections of the site. Now our work is approaching a 'definitive version' of events.

Flint grinding pans still in situ in the Mill Building

Mounting blocks for blungers and bearing box.

Of course there is still a great deal of analysis to be done. We need to reconcile the evidence from the buildings with the known historical data and early map evidence.

In 2006 are hoping to produce a monograph on our work at Jackfield. This will be written by Sophie Watson and Simon Roper, with contributions by others who have worked on the site over the last 20 years - including Tony Herbert, Tim Jenkins and Shelley White.