Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wellington (Shropshire)

The watching brief that we started in Wellington in September has now been completed. The site, near Limekiln Lane, was the former home farm of the Old Hall, which itself lies outside of the development area. The surviving farm buildings consist of a 17th century timber framed barn and a fragment of a threshing barn dating to the late 18th century.

General view of the site with the timber-framed barn in the back- ground.

Despite the long history of occupation on the site there was little in the way of archaeological remains. A series of levelling layers represented improvements to the farm yard area, but no datable finds were recovered and unfortunately little new light has been shed on the development of this site.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Workhouse Coppice

Work continues at Workhouse Coppice in the Ironbridge Gorge on behalf of the Severn Gorge Countryside Trust. We started work here in July 2006, when we carried out an assessment as part of the SGCT's management review. The assessment comprised desk based research and a comprehensive walkover survey of the site. The research and survey identified numerous remains of mining and other industrial activities within the coppice dating to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Surface remains of a bell pit.

We have been monitoring the construction of new access routes and recording features that have been affected by them. This project will be continuing into the winter.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Iron Bridge

Following our extensive work on various aspects of the Iron Bridge in 1999-2000 and 2001-2002, we have returned to the site as part an investigation of the bridge road surface by English Heritage. There are concerns that the penetration of water through the road surface is affecting the deck plates. A series of small trial holes were excavated at various points along the road surface to examine the structure.

This photo shows the overall surface of the bridge. The red wooden squares mark the location of the holes.

The bridge carries a number of services, including gas, water, electricity and telephone, which may be serving to draw water along the bridge - accelerating corrosion. The deck plates are laid across the bridge and support the road surface. The excavations revealed a series of former road surface layers.

The deck plates themselves are of two types. The original plates, on the main span of 1779, were cast as flat sheets without flanges. Thus water is able to escape between the plates. On the two later (1820s) spans the deck-plates were cast with flanges approximately 50mm high, presumably to ensure a stiffer and more easily-handled casting. Due to the slope of the bridge these catch and hold water, causing corrosion to the downhill sides of the deck plates.

1779 deck plate. The cast-iron kerb dates from the 1920s and will be removed during future re- surfacing.

Join between 1820s deck plates, showing accum- ulation of water against the flange.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Industrial Archaeology?

The EAA conference in Cracow was extremely interesting, with a number of important sessions reflecting the currently very dynamic state of European archaeology. The session hosted by Kenny Aitchison and Mark Spanjer on the effectiveness of implementation of the Valetta Convention was particularly good. Both the papers and subsequent discussion drew attention to the vast differences between the 'Anglo-Saxon' model of privatised commercial archaeology as exemplified by the UK, and the central-eastern European model of state-funded Museum-focused archaeology. With of course a wide range of other approaches - such as those of the French - in between.

Cracow is an extremely beautiful and pleasant city and well worth a visit.

A rather more grim aspect of European history was presented at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious of the Nazi death camps. The mechanisation of the process of genocide was striking, and the scale of what had happened was extremely moving.

Factory of death.

Railway sidings.