In June 2009, I took part in the filming of the new Russell Crowe/Ridley Scott blockbuster "Robin Hood" (then named "Nottingham") as a stunt extra. I filmed in Wales and Farnham. The movie will be released on 14th May 2010. The trailor has recently been released and can be viewed below (I am in there somewhere !!).
13th December 2009: Field Walking in Reach (Cambridgeshire)
I as invited by the Cambridge Antiquarian Society to take part in a field walk in Reach (Cambridgeshire). The area is believed to be a rich mesolithic site and is at the end of Devil's Dyke - said to be the finest Anglo-Saxon earthwork of its kind in the country.
Unfortunately not that much was found, other than some flint microlith tools and a possible arrow head rough-out.
22nd - 28th November 2009: Torm Reenactors Market & Angles Sale
Torm Reenactors Market is a great place to find new kit and on 22nd November, I got a Gladius sword, Francisca thowing axe and also pickup my new spangenhelm helmet that I ordered earlier in the year. I also went to the military and civil uniform costumiers sale on 28th November at the Angles Sale - not really my period for reenactment, but good fun (photo below).
28th - 30th October 2009: Kings Lynn & Whitby Museums
On 28th October, I visited Kings Lynn museum to see the wooden timbers from Sea Henge. An entire gallery is devoted to telling the story of this unique 4,000 year old henge and around half of the posts are on display.
On 29th October, I briefly visited Stamford Bridge (Yorkshire) to see where one of the three battles of 1066 took place.
On 30th October, I visited Whitby museum and was surprised by the numerous marine fossils and flint tools on display, along with many other interesting exhibits. One particular flint arrow head (pictured right) was showed incredible skill of the flintknapper - maybe one day I will be that good.
One of the display cases showed a number of finds from the Mesolithic (c7500 BC) hunter-gatherer site at Star Carr (near Scarborough) and more artefacts from this important site can be found at the Cambridge Archaeology and Anthropology museum. I would guess that some of the many flints on display are not ancient at all, but created by a local Victorian forger called Flint Jack.
24th October 2009: Cambridge Festival of Ideas - Prehistory Day
I attended the Prehistory Day presented by the Dept of Archaeology, MacDonald Institute for Archaeology Research and the Cambridge Archaeology Unit (as part of the Cambridge University Festival of Ideas). There were several displays including Flintknapping, smelting and bronze age metallurgy, bread baking, rock art, pottery and animal hide tanning techniques. I also had a go a throwing an Atlatl (pronounced at-lat-al) and spear.
Known as the Atlatl in the America's (Woomera in Australia) is an ancient spear-throwing weapon that uses leverage to achieve great velocity and distance of the projectile (up to 280m). The atlatl itself is a stick about 40cm-60cm long, with a handgrip at one end and a "spur" at the other end. The spur is a point (wood or antler point) that fits into a cavity at the back of a 1.5m - 2m long dart that can be fletched. The dart is suspended parallel to the atlatl, held by the tips of the fingers at the handgrip. It is then launched through a sweeping arm and wrist motion, similar to a tennis serve.
To see my how I made and tested three different Atlatl versions, see the Projects section.
12th October 2009: Meeting Sir David Attenborough
I was invited by the Cambridge Archaeology and Anthropology museum to attend a lecture by Sir David Attenborough in the Babbage Lecture Theatre . With a capacity crowd of over 700 guests, Sir David was remembering his life as a young assistant producer to Paul Johnstone on the pioneering BBC programme "Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?" in 1952. He recalled when he was involved with Buried Treasure and the Silbury Hill excavation for "Chronicle" and also when he became Controller of BBC2 and created the History and Archaeology Unit. Sir David was joined by David Collison, Anna Benson Gyles and Ray Sutcliffe, who were members of the teams who worked on the various archaeology shows.
After the very interesting lecture, I was lucky enough to speak with Sir David for around 10 minutes, during which time he informed me that his father was an Archaeologist. I then presented Sir David with a flint hand-axe that I had made especially for him. He graciously accepted this gift and thanked me.
I was joined in the audience by numerous well-known faces, including Mick Aston, Francis Prior and Carenza Lewis (Time Team), Julian Richards and Michael Wood.
9th October 2009: National Geographic Filming
I had one day filming for National Geographic for a TV programme that will be shown in US. This required me and around 10 other people to reenact scenes from Mesolithic and Neolithic periods. I was joined on the day by John and Val Lord and their son Will Lord in Benacre, Suffolk for the last day of filming.
Yes this really is me !!
My main role was to flintknapp using techniques of the period. I was also asked to help butcher a fallow deer using the tools we had made, which was a unique and interesting experience.
30th September 2009: Time Team in Litlington
TV's Team Team were in Litlington recording one of their Channel 4 shows. They were attempting to uncover the remains of an extensive Roman villa thought by 19th century antiquarians to be in the area, close to a Roman track known as Ashwell Street. On their second day on site, I was able to talk to Phil Harding (see below - photo courtesy of Carole Kaszak) and Helen Geake about their finds, which mainly included mosaics/teasserae, painted wall plaster and a big hoard of roman coins.
As the Victorians had previously dug a numder of small pits, Time Team decided to excavate a heavily wooded area that had remained untouched. They dug 12 test pits (across 8 different gardens in the Anvil Avenue area) and concluded that it was a large villa, with bath house and possible mausoleum attached. Osteoarchaeologists tried to make sence of Victorian excavations, as they unearthed disarticulated human bones and pottery which dated from the late Iron Age and early Roman period.
Eight school children spent the day with the Time Team as winners of a competition run as part of Ordnance Survey’s Free maps for 11-year-olds scheme, which offers every Year and Primary 7 pupil in the country a free OS Explorer Map.
The Time Team 2010 series started on18th April at 5:30pm; the start of the series was delayed because of a concern over a scheduling clash with BBC1's Antiques Roadshow. The Litlington episode will be broadcast in autumn on a date to be announced.
On the 3rd July there was an exhibition in St Catherine’s Church (10am - 3pm) of the finds from the 1821 excavation of the Heavens Walls Cemetery, featuring many of the 251 artefacts from the Roman Cemetery, that are normally in storage at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge. Also on display was some pieces of the painted plaster from the Time Team dig of the Roman bath house.
August 2009:New Find
Here is a new find picked up from when I was working on a farm in Essex. It appears to be half a pebble, when the pebble was complete, there probably would have been a hole in the middle. This is only half the pebble so it is likely that it broke during use and was discarded. The evidence for this is on the wear around the break, this means it has been as a half for a long time so could not have broken recently.
It is possible that this object was once a late Neolithic - early Bronze Age mace head. Not many examples of these have been found in the UK, however several were found around Stone Henge.
Here is a complete example of a complete British mace head.
Alternatively the object may well have been a weight of some kind, maybe to weigh done a fishing net or trap. Several stones such as these along the bottom of a net would hold it down efficiently.
The object could have been a weight on a loom, such as in the image below. The loom has weights at the bottom of the strands to hold it taught. The image on the right is a loom weight, however these are usually found in a group as you need a group of weights to make the loom function (image below left). The object I found was by itself and there has never been similar stones found in the area before, to my knowledge.