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11th December 2010: Time Trackers


The final Time Trackers session of 2010 was held at he Royston & District museum - this will be the last held here for a while, as the museum is undergoing refurbishment.

We did two fun activities: the first was excavating fake poo to learn more about how these techniques are used in real archaeology (as used to discover the last meal of Otzi the Ice Man and also to learn about Roman food in the sewers of Pompeii). The fake poo contained pips, seeds and grain and the idea was to dissect each poo, gather all the organic remains and try to identify what civilisation it could have come from.

Time TrackersTime Trackers

The next activity was stick weaving: this simple and versatile weaving method may have been brought to Europe by the Crusaders, but there is little evidence. The North American Indians were using this method to create straps and belts in the Great Lakes area when the French trappers came across them in the 1500’s.

The Time Trackers used two sticks to weave a flat pattern, but more could be used to make a wider material.

Time Trackers
  • Drill a small hole near the bottom of two sticks/doweling of length around 20-30cm
  • Thread string through one hole of one stick and create a loop of around 40-60cm (repeat with the other stick)
  • Tie both ends of the looped string together so that the ends of the loop bind the sticks together
  • Loosely tie the wool/yarn to be used for the weaving to the middle of one of the sticks
  • Hold both sticks in one hand and the loose wool/yarn in the other
  • Start to weave by simply wraping the wool/yarn around both sticks in a continual figure of 8 pattern (not too tightly)
  • Knot on new colours of wool/yarn as desired
  • As the weave builds up, start to move it down the sticks and on to the looped string, but make sure some of the weave remains on the sticks
  • When your weave is complete, move it all down to the looped string and cut the string just beneath the holes in the sticks
  • Tie remains of string and wool/yarn togther when finished (see image right)
Time Trackers

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13th - 14th November 2010: Nautical Archaeology Society - Part 1 Certificate Course


My next training with the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) was the NAS Part I Certificate in Foreshore and Underwater Archaeology Course at National Diving and Activity Centre in Chepstow.

The two-day event built on the Introduction Course and involved 2 dives of around 12m, to perform 3D plotting. I was once again buddy with Nick, who I met on the October course in Kent.

I also had a little time to visit the castle in nearby Chepstow on top of cliffs overlooking the River Wye. Built in 1067, it is claimed to be the oldest surviving stone fortification in Britain and was the southernmost of a chain of castles built along the English-Welsh border in the Welsh Marches.

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31st October 2010: Time Team Litlington - first broadcast


The Time Team episode featuring the Roman villa in Litlington (Herts) was broadcast on Channel 4. On the second day of filming (in 2009) Sylvia Beamon, Carole Kaszak and I were able to watch the excavation. I was very surprised to see us all on TV just behind Tony Robinson, in the section covering the Roman bath in the copse area.

Time Team Litlington

To see the entire episode >> click

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31st October 2010: Time Trackers visit Celtic Harmony Camp


The Celtic Harmony Camp hosted a halloween Samhain (pronounced as "shavnah" if you are male or "havnah" if you are female) Festival and the Royston Time Trackers went along to join in the fun. Funding to attend this event was helped by the generous donation from the Royston Roundtable in May 2010.

Time Trackers Archery Syliva Beamon

Despite the showers, the Time Trackers enjoyed various activities, including archery, apple juicing and exploring the camp. We saw Ben Potters Birds of Prey Eagle and Vulture flying display and John Adam making Love Spoons. One of the most popular was "Drumming is Fun" that provided rhythmical drumming workshops.

Time Trackers Corn Grinding

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23rd October 2010: Hengistbury Head & Redhouse Museum


Hengistbury Head has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) near to Bournemouth on the south coast. The occupation of Hengistbury Head dates back to 10,000 BC to Upper Palaeolithic period (one of around 25 sites from this period found in England) and continues to the Iron Age. I wandered along the beach, below Warren Hill and saw some of the Ironstone Doggers that remain on the beach.

I also visited the nearby Redhouse museum which has an excellant display of locally found lithics in two small galleries.

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16th October 2010: Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Archaeology Review


The annual Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Archaeology Review was held at the Spirella Building in Letchworth. The theme for this conference was Roman and Post-Roman period in the two counties, which was to commemorate the 1600th anniversary of the end of Roman occupation of Britain.

This conference was also part of my NAS Part II Intermediate Certificate in Foreshore and Underwater Archaeology.

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2nd October 2010: Nautical Archaeology Society - Introduction Course


The Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS) is a non-government organisation formed to further interest in underwater cultural heritage. They run a five part course on marine archaeology techniques. As I had completed my PADI Advanced Open Water in Turkey this year, I was keen to go on the Introduction Course at Buckland Lake in Kent.

The one-day NAS Introduction to Foreshore and Underwater Archaeology course consisted of a number of lectures given by Mark Beattie-Edwards (NAS Programme Director) about marine archaeology, dating methods,2D survey techniques and a practical session to test the theory. It was followed by a 35 minute dive in the lake to survey a structure about 6-9m underwater; this was performed in groups of three divers. I am now hoping to attend the NAS Part I Certificate in Foreshore and Underwater Archaeology course in November in Chepstow.

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25th - 26th September 2010: Royston Arts Festival 2010


The 2010 Royston Arts Festival was another opportunity to perform some flintknapping at the Royston and District Museum. Several other activities were on inside the museum, including medieval calligraphy, a Victorian lantern show, demonstration of the old print press and art classes

On Saturday over 250 people came to the museum. Sunday afternoon was wet and so I was unable to do any flintknapping, so instead I spoke to visitors about the prehistoric figurines I had on display.

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19th September 2010: Bentley Weald WoodFair 2010


The 15th Bentley Weald Woodfair (held at the Bentley Waterfowl & Motor Museum) was an ideal opportunity to combine archaeology with bushcraft. The annual event attracts 20,000 visitors and caters for all things wood related.

The East Sussex Archaeology and Museums Partnership (ESAMP) were in the Glyndebourne Wood area demonstrating a range of activities, including making oak roof shingles for a local school project; I had a go at making one.

I also spoke with fellow flintknapper Allan Course.

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2nd - 5th September 2010: Bow Making (Woodcraft School)


The second of my five Primitive Technology courses (leading to a NCFE as a Level 3 qualification) was called "Bow Making". I decided to make a 'Holmegaard' bow and during the three days we had on site.

The Holmegaard bows are a series of self bows (a self bow is a bow made from a single piece of wood) found in the bogs of Northern Europe dating from the Mesolithic period. The shape of the Holmegaard bows is their distinctive feature, having wide, parallel limbs and a biconvex midsection with the tips ending in a point. They are named after the Holmegaard area of southern Denmark in which the first and oldest specimens were found.

This course is run by the Woodcraft School in West Sussex.

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30th August 2010: Celtic Harmony Camp (Primitive Skills Festival)


The Celtic Harmony Camp held a Primitive Skills Festival over the August bank holiday and I was lucky enough to go along. A number of activities were available including Flintknapping with John Lord (below), bushcraft, archery and many more.

I met up with John and we had quite a chat about all things flint. I then had a go at friction fire starting and was quite successful for my first time.

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28th August 2010: Norton Henge Excavation & Flintknapping


The Norton Community Archaeology Group invited me back to do a flintkapping demonstration as part of their Norton Henge Dig in Stapleton’s Field which lies at the end of Church Lane in the village of Norton. The excavation on the Bronze Age henge was lead by North Herts Archaeology Officer Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews and the 28th was the open day when around 150 people, including local dignitaries (such as Oliver Heald MP and Garden City Heritage Foundation people) were on site.

I was permitted to join the dig in the morning, before flintknapping in the afternoon, but only found one small piece of worked flint.

To see Keith's blog of the dig, >> click here.

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2nd - 16th August 2010: Archaeology of Southern Turkey


My annual family holiday took me to Side (pronounced See-Dah) in southern Turkey.

Side ~
Side was founded by Aeolians of the Aegean region around 7 BC and it once was an ancient harbour whose name meant pomegranate. The main town started around 2 BC when it had established and maintained good relations with the Roman Empire and when most of the impressive Roman buildings were constructed, including Temple of Apollo (below).

 

 

Karain Cave ~
At the end of a single track-way, passed farming villages and through low foothills is the oldest known settlement in Turkey; the Palaeolithic caves of Karain. Discovered in 1946 by Prof Kőkten, a few kilometres north of Antalya, they are the only caves in turkey to have been systematically excavated since then (which is still going on). The small museum houses a collection of artefacts (mainly stone tools) and here you pay to climb 130m up the narrow path of the slope to the caves. There are a small number of chambers in the area, with only one being accessible to the public. Chamber B has around 11m of datable stratigraphy and chamber E around 8m; finds have lead researchers to believe the oldest layers are from 450,000-500,000 BC.

 

Çatalhöyük ~
60km west of Konya (Turkey) is the oldest known Neolithic settlement called Çatalhöyük (the word 'höyük' means 'mound') . The site was first discovered in 1958 by James Mellaart and excavated between 1961 and 1965. Mellaart suggested that the village was occupied from between 7,000 and 5,000 BC. Since 1993 a team of archaeologists, led by Cambridge archaeologist Dr Ian Hodder, has been carrying out new excavations in order to understand more the people who once inhabited the site.

 

Aspendos ~
A few kilometres from the main D400 highway is claimed to be the best preserved Roman amphitheatres in the world at Aspendos in southern Turkey. Built by architect Zeno (son of Theodoros) around 161-180 AD for two rich brothers named Curtius Crispinus and Curtius Auspicatus; the theatre is large enough to sit 15-20,000 people. Along with the impressive amphitheatre are the less well preserved remains of a Roman city, such as the Basilica, monumental fountain, aqueduct, temple and part of a roadway.

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1st August 2010: Time Trackers Test-Pit Dig


The Time Trackers were invited to a field in Barley to dig a test-pit and try their hand at excavation. Having researched the site, I thought there was a small possibility of a ploughed out barrow in the field and so we decided to place the test-pit near to this location. An area of approximately 1m sq was selected and the grass/topsoil carefully removed (to be replaced once we had finished). We eventually dug to a level of about 0.25m and found a few fragments of pottery that was possibly Medieval and iron age - we will examine these at a later date.

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26th July 2010: Eastbourne


I spent a few hours in the afternoon at Eastbourne and was lucky enough to visit the following:

The Long Man of Wilmington - the hill figure is 69.2 metres (227 ft) tall and looks in proportion when viewed from below.

Combe Hill Neolithic causewayed enclosure and barrows (see image above)

Pevensey Castle Roman 'Saxon Shore' fort, where two-thirds of the towered walls still stand. The area was greatly added to after 1066 and again in 1250.

At Beachy Head it is possibly to see flint formed at different layers

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18th July 2010: 5000 Years at West Stow


This was my first stone age living history at West Stow. I was joined by a number of Celts, Romans and Anglo-Saxons reenactors at part of the 5000 Years at West Stow presentation. I set up in what is referred to at the information hut and had a steady flow of visitors, who watched me flintknapping and talk about what life was possibly like in the Stone Age.

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17th July 2010: Festival of History


The annual Festival of History held at Kelmarsh was Britiannia's biggest audience event and despite some very heavy showers moments before we were due to start, the skirmish was well received by the public.

I also saw my friend Tony Blackman, Dot and their dog Harry. I first met Tony (and Harry) at a Young Archaeology Club (YAC) holiday in Cornwall in 2005. Tony was a huge inspiration to me on that first trip and I went back two more times to learn even more about the wonderful Cornish archaeology.

Tony is currently the chairman of Cornwall Heritage Trust and president of the Cornwall Archaeology Society.

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27th June 2010: Letchworth Festival


I was invited by the Norton Community Archaeology Group to do a flintkapping demonstration as part of the Letchworth Festival 2010. Held at the First Garden City Heritage Museum, a small number of visitors enjoyed the event in the sunshine.

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26th June 2010: Archaeology Family Fun Day


The fifth annual Archaeology Family Fun Day took place at the Royston & District museum. A slightly lower attendance than in the past (possibly due to the good weekend weather and various sport on TV) meant the day was less hectic than usual. Around 80 visitors came to enjoy the activities and £73 was raised on the day. A number of visitors also tried flintknapping for the first time and produced some good examples of stone tools.

The aim of these annual events is to promote interest in history and archaeology and raise funds towards running of the museum. Part of the Festival of British Archaeology 2010, it was kindly supported by the Royston Community Chest Award scheme.

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17th June 2010: Flintknapping at School


On a warm June day, I went to Eversley Primary School in London to demonstrate ancient technologies and in particular flintknapping. Under the shade of an old oak tree, I did four 1 hour sessions to around 10-15 Year 6 students, to fit in with their term theme of Survival. This was part of a Forest School Project led by Enric Cucarella from the London Wild Life Trust and is in working towards an environmental John Muir Award.

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13th June 2010: Britannia at Maldon - Blackwater Country Show


A pleasant day was had by all at the annual Blackwater Country Show in Maldon (Essex) in support of the Essex Air Ambulance. Although this is a low key event for Britannia, there was a good crowd as we "stormed" the island camp in the Curragh, followed by a small skirmish. I took out my second coracle in the pond and we were all buzzed by a nesting pair of Oystercatchers.

Blackwater Show Gallery -

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24th May 2010: Cambridge News ~ Robin Hood Interview


I was approached by reporter Alice Hutton from the Cambridge News to give a short interview about my role as a stunt extra in the latest Robin Hood film. I enjoyed watching the film on the day of its release with some of my friends, but being part of making it was much more fun.

Click here to read the Cambridge News article

Click here to read the Royston Weekly News article

Click here to read the online version from the Cambridge News website

Download PDF reader >>

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8th & 9th May 2010: Bark, Bone and Antler (Woodcraft School)


The first of my five Primitive Technology courses (leading to a NCFE as a Level 3 qualification) was called "Bark, Bone and Antler". With a mix of interest in archaeology and bushcraft, twelve people joined me on the 2 day course which was a great success.

I made bark containers (image below) in roughly the same style as was found with Ötzi the Iceman. I also created a antler needle and used the bone to make the weapon-end of a harpoon.

This course is run by the Woodcraft School in West Sussex.

Bark, Bone and Antler -

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2nd & 3rd May 2010: Britannia at Flag Fen


A cold and windy start to the Britannia season at Flag Fen. Although the weather was not ideal, a good crowd turned up over the 2 days. Unfortunately it was just too windy for me to use my new coracle and so all the action was on land this time.

Flag Fen Gallery -

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24th April 2010: Time Trackers


Some of the Royston Time Trackers joined me in a field in Barley to try some ancient technologies:

  1. First the children (from around 5-12 years) had a go with a bullroarer to try to create that unique buzzing sound.
  2. Then they used Atlatl's that the Time Trackers had made and decorated at the previous months session.
  3. Finally they had a go with my recurve bow and used one of my shields as a target around 10m away.

A good morning was had by all.

Carole from Royston & District Museum trying archery

Time Trackers Gallery -

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11th April 2010: Stone Age Atlantis


Here are some images of me from the National Geographic TV film Stone Age Atlantis (first shown 11th April 2010 at 7pm).

Me leading the Mesolithic (middle stone age from about 8500BC - 4000BC) group back to camp, carrying a fallow deer, that later I helped to butcher using flint tools that I made

The "prehistoric group" preparing the meal

A close-up of me enjoying the Venison

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25th March 2010: Mayors Community Chest Award


I received a Community Chest Award (presented by Mayor Rod Kennedy) for support of the annual Archaeology Family Fun Day, this year to be held on 26th June at the Royston & District museum. This is the third year that the Mayor of Royston has presented me with a donation to help towards the running of the event. The funds will go towards purchase of items for my Stone Age Living History; a new metal detector; materials and prizes.

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23rd March 2010: Stone Age Atlantis UK Premier


On 9th October 2009, I took part in filming for the National Geographic Channel in Benacre, Suffolk. The film (called Stone Age Atlantis) required me to perform flintknapping. Its first UK showing will be on 11th April 2010 at 7pm.

The programme is described as:

Melting ice - rising seas - a huge tsunami wave heads for the coast.  These are not headlines from today; they are stories from our prehistoric past. In Stone Age times - Northern Europe was a wonderful place to live where people pioneered a new, advanced, culture.  But these were also times of frantic climate change when the seas were rising; drowning the land.  See the story of a lost world in the premiere of Stone Age Atlantis on Sunday 11 April at 7pm.

Today, we worry about the effects of global warming, but humans have lived though eras of extreme climate change before. During the Middle Stone Age, the world's seas were rising far more rapidly than today. In Northern Europe, an area the size of California disappeared under the waves.  This programme features the archaeologists who are now reconstructing this lost land and have given it a name - Doggerland.

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6th March 2010: YACs visit to Sandy RSPB Reserve


A YACs visit took me to Sandy RSPB Reserve in Bedfordshire. As part of a excavation, we were looking for railway lines as evidence of a WWII Italian POW camp (possibly Mansion Potton Camp No. 269) as the exact location is not known.

Also at the site is Galley Hillfort (above and below), which was in use from the Neolithic to the Roman and medieval periods. The hillfort covers an area of approximately 1.25 ha and is situated close to two further hillforts - Caesars Camp (a contour fort) and The Lodge (a promontory fort). 

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5th March 2010: Ashmolean & Pitt Rivers Museum


On a visit to Oxford, I had a chance to go to the Ashmolean (museum of Art and Archaeology - founded in 1683, is the oldest museum in the UK and the oldest university museum in the world), the Pitt Rivers Museum (founded in 1884) and the adjoining Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Ashmolean: The main areas of interest for me was the prehistory gallery and England 400 - 1600.

Portrait of Sir John Evans in the prehistory Gallery

Solutrean Point

Stone relief (Chester) Retiarius Gladiator

The Alfred Jewel - described as the single most important archaeological object in England

Pitt Rivers: A wide range of displays covering anthropology and archaeology

Bow-Drills for fire making

Fire Pistons for fire making

Oxford University Museum of Natural History: Interesting displays of fossils, early man and the natural world in a wonderful building.

The Red Lady of Paviland (Upper Palaeolithic-era human male skeleton dyed in red ochre)

Cast of Lucy (40% complete skeleton of an Australopithecus Afarensis)

Handaxes

Reindeer antler spear straightener (top) and Atlatl (bottom)

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3rd March 2010: Final Article in YACs Magazine


My final article for the Young Archaeologist Club magazine (as a YAC member) has just been published in issue 143. It covers my early years of interest in archaeology, including seven years as a member of YACs and is a sort of goodbye and thank you to the club.

Issue 143 (Spring 2010) - Goodbye YACs

Download PDF reader >>

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21st February 2010: Sub Britainnica visit Royston Cave


On 21st February I joined Sylvia Beamon and 11 other members from the Sub Britainnica group on a visit to Royston Cave as part of their celebration of recruitment of the 1000th member to the organisation.

Royston Weekly News article

Download PDF reader >>

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13th-19th February 2010: Geology Field Trip - Isle of Arran


Standing in a "modern" stone circle (recently erected for photo-shoot) near Hutton's Unconformity - Lochranza

 

 

 

Here I am nearby a Bronze Age Cairn site in North Sannox, that was excavated during the 20th century. I was not able to visit the Cairn itself (as it was only a photo stop). It is likely that originally the Cairn would have covered with a pile of stones.

 

 

 

This cave (called Kitchen Cave - part of the King's Cave complex) shows signs of possible human use dating to the Bronze age.

Notice the two curved rows of arranged large boulders, with smaller infilling stones (scroll over image).

It is not clear what the function of this structure could have been.

What looks like Pictish, Celtic or Norse cave art in King's Cave (north of Blackwaterfoot) which was formed about 6,000 years ago in the sandstone cliffs.

Formally known as "Drumadoon" this is reputed to have been a hiding place for Robert the Bruce after he murdered his rival John Comyn at the alter of Greyfriars Abbey, as he began his campaign to claim the Scottish throne.

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6th February 2010: YACs Field Walking in Great Eversden (Cambridgeshire)


I joined the Cambridge branch of the Young Archaeologist Club (YACs) and the Cambridge Antiquarian Society on a (foggy) field walk in Great Eversden. Near to St Mary's church, the field was very muddy and sticky, but the 12 young YACs and their parents seemed to enjoy being outdoors.

Download PDF reader >>

The main finds on the day were shards of late Roman pottery. Find out more about what has been found in the area by reading Dominic Shelley's Blog, >> click here .

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