24th September 2011: Time Trackers Prehistoric Art
To accompany the Royston Arts Festival, the theme of Prehistoric Art was chosen for my last Time Trackers before starting university. The first session was to try to place some of my replica art in the correct chronological order and although this was very hard, everyone got a few right. The last session was hands-on pottery.
21st September 2011: Visit to Cheddar Gorge
I have been wanting to visit Cheddar Gorge for some time, to see the world famous Gough's Cave. This is the home of Cheddar Man; Britain's oldest complete skeleton buried there 9,000 years ago, following what is thought to be a violent death. He was excavated in 1903 and the remains are kept by the Natural History Museum in London (a replica is shown in the Cheddar Prehistoric Museum and in the cave, as shown opposite).
During the excavations in 1927–28, a number of human bones were found that showed some evidence of cannibalism. Skull fragments found from five individuals with fractures that appeared to have been made when the bone was still fresh. Other bones had been split in a similar way to how animal bones are opened to get at the marrow.
Further excavations in 1986–87 found about 120 human cranial and postcranial remains from a small area near the entrance of the cave (shown by the red/white ranging rod in the photo opposite). The remains represented at least five individuals, consisting of three adults and two children from about 14,700 years ago. More recently analysis of these has suggested they were deliberately fashioned into ritual drinking skull cups or bowls.
In 2003, a Palaeolithic image of what is thought to be a mammoth was found carved in the limestone walls in an alcove in Gough's Cave. If correct, it is only the second piece of representational cave art found in Britain.
It has been long thought that Cheddar man's ancestors may still live in the area and recent DNA testing (his DNA was extracted from one of Cheddar man's teeth) may prove that correct.
In the first galleries of the Museum of Prehistory, are number of displays, videos and replica tools from John Lord. A commentary on early man's voyage out of Africa, can be heard from Professor Chris Stringer from the Natural History Museum.
12-17th September 2011: Archaeology in the Netherlands and Belgium
I was lucky enough to be invited to a visit a Landscape Archaeologist friend in the Netherlands. During my six days there, I visited the Rijckholt flint mine (below right) first discovered in 1881, used an auger to help with a soil testing exercise to determine the archaeological value of a site and also visited the replica subterranean Roman catacombs in the marl pits of Valkenburg (below left).
On 14th September, I also took part in a late bronze age cemetery excavation in Geel (Belgium) on land that will become part of the K.S.A.V. St. Dimpna football club. In the photo below I am recording my excavation of the outer ditch of burial circle (barrow). The ground was very sandy, which made the digging fairly easy, however nothing of interest was found on that day.
Netherlands & Belgium Gallery -
6th September 2011: Visit to Carnac (France)
On a visit to northern France, I was able to visit the world famous site of Carnac, where there are 3,000 prehistoric standing stones that were hewn from local rock and erected by the pre-Celtic people of Brittany around 4500-3300 BC. Unfortunately I visited on a Tuesday and the local museum was closed.
The Carnac site consists of both single standing stones (known as menhirs) and multistone clusters (called dolmens). There are two main groups of stone alignments which are known as the Menec and Kermario alignments (other small alignments include the Petit Menec and the Kerlescan). The Menec alignments are twelve converging rows of menhirs stretching for more than 1km and with the remains of a stone circle at either end. At the western end the largest stones are around 4m high and they become smaller towards the eastern end, to around 0.6m high.
29th August 2011: Flintknapping at Ashwell Show
For my last official event of the year, I was invited to do a flintknapping demonstration at the 90th annual Ashwell Village Show (a mixed Horse Show and traditional Village Show); my first time here. I was located in the by the side of the front entrance, just at the side of the crafts marquee, where there was a lace maker, tile artists and others. Behind me were six Hebredian and Manx Loaghtan sheep belonging to the local Merchant Flock.
Throughout the day, a steady flow of the shows 10,000 visitors came passed my area and a good number stopped to either watch me or ask questions. The weather was not great - a typical Bank Holiday.
A YouTube video of the day posted by Wendy E Rose can be found by clicking ==>here (I appear in the first 10 seconds)
20th August 2011: Lithics Study Society - Flintknapping at Buster Ancient Farm
The third annual Lithics Studies Societyflintknapping event was held in a large Marquee at Butser Ancient Farm over the weekend of 20th and 21st August. I attended on the Saturday, along with around 18 other members, including John Sharpe and special guests John and Val Lord who demonstrated the art of knapping before we all settled down to having a go with the various materials that were available.
During the day, I knapped with different flint and chert including some from Portland, Greensand, Bull Head and even some from France.
I was also able to say hello to Neil Burridge who was at Buster Ancient Farm, doing a bronze casting rapier workshop.
5th August 2011: Ancient city of Kameiros (Rhodes)
On a family holiday on the Greek island of Rhodes, I was able to visit the ancient Hellenistic ruins of Kameiros (Kamiros) and the Acropolis in Rhodes Town.
Ancient Kameiros was founded by the Dorians in prehistoric times and it was later inhabited by the Achaeans. Items recovered there have been found date to 8BC.
Ancient Kameiros was built in three levels. On top of the hill, there was the Acropolis with the temple of goddess Athena Kameiras. In 6BC, a reservoir was built that could cover the needs of 400 families. Around this reservoir, the inhabitants constructed a Stoa with two rooms of Doric columns.
The main settlement was built around the Acropolis and it had parallel streets and residences. The lower level consisted of a Doric temple dedicated to Apollo and the Agora.
The city was destroyed twice by earthquakes, one in 226 BC and the second in 142 BC, after which it was abandoned.
In 1858-1865 A. Salzmann and A. Biliotti excavated at the acropolis and the cemeteries and Biliotti continued in 1880. In 1928, the Italian Archaeological School continued the excavation and restoration works till the end of the Second World War, when the Italian domination on the Dodecanese was over.
Kameiros & Rhodes Acropolis -
The Rhodes Acropolis (below) consists of a monumental zone with Sanctuaries, temples, public buildings and underground places, built on stepped terraces supported by strong retaining walls and date to the Hellenistic and Late Hellenistic periods (2-3 BC).
Excavations were intially performed by the Italian Archaeological School during the Italian occupation of the island (1912-1945) and continued from 1946 onwards, bythe Greek Archaeological Service. Extensive reconstruction occured on the site.
The Stadium (left) was excavated and restored by the Italians. With a North-South orientation, it was one stadion in length (210m or 600ft).
The original surviving parts are the sphendone (rounded end with turning post), proedries (seats of officials) and some of the lower seats in the auditorium. Also preserved is the starting mechanism for the athletes.
22nd & 24th July 2011: Flintknapping (Woodcraft School)
The third of my five Primitive Technology courses (leading to a NCFE as a Level 3 qualification) was Flintknapping.
As a reasonably experienced flintknapper, I was looking forward to working with John Lord (pictured right) again to perfect the specific technique of pressure flacking. I also helped the six other people that had joined the course and they all produced some good results.
I am hoping to complete the remaining two modules (The Whole Of The Animal and Own Project) in 2012.
Travelling back in time another 3,000 years from the Britannia event of the previous day, I was at West Stow for the third time this year, as part of their annual 5000 years celebration. I was joined by a number of Celts, Romans and Anglo-Saxons reenactors. As last year, I was in 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.
16th July 2011: Festival of History
The annual English Heritage Festival of History held at Kelmarsh, was my first gladitorial event for Britiannia.
I was portraying the Gladiator class: Thracian, who were considered lightly armored. I carried a small round shield called Parma and a curved sword called Sica, with a metal helmet with a large crest representing a mithological beast called Grifone. On my legs were tall guards, covering up to the tops of my thighs. Thracian originally referred to prisoners of war from Thrace.
I fought Retiarius (the "net" man, with the trident). It was a tense match and unfortunately it did not come to a conclusion before the timer ran out; although I did receive a small souvenir scar from the trident.
As last year, there were some very heavy showers for the morning display, however as many of the other reenactors were sheltering from the down-pour, we had a large audience who seemed to appreciate the show. The afternoon cleared up and the second display also had good public attendance.
2nd July 2011 : Flintknapping YACs
Following the success of the Flintkanpping morning for the Bury St Edmunds YACs branch on 2nd April, a second morning was set up at the West Stow Anglo-Saxon village again . Seven YACs sat outside of the workshop building and they were all soon having a go.
22nd June 2011 : Ancient Craft is two years old
The Ancient Craft website began life two years ago, although my interest in the ancient world goes back over 10 years. During this time, I have performed at eight Britainnia shows and ten flintknapping demonstrations around the country, for schools, archaeologists, films, heritage centres and the general public, with more to follow this year. I have learned many new skills (such as marine archaeology) and have increased the number of my related qualifications and certifications, but most of all I have had the pleasure to speak to many people (young and old) about the life and times of our distant prehistoric relatives.
During the next 2-3 years, I will continue my adventures in archaeology and primitive technologies. I am planning for my website to evolve (a bit like the subject matter), with more projects and ideas to include and fresh new look about it. I hope this will appeal to a wider audience, so that my visitor numbers increase. Please make sure you bookmark this site and return on a regular basis to watch the development.
I would like to thank you for visiting my site over the past two years, whether this is your first time or you are a regular reader. If you have any suggestions of what you would like to see on the Ancient Craft website then please email me.
1st & 2nd May 2011 : Britannia at Flag Fen
The good bank holiday weather unfortunately did little to encourage the crowds to come to this annual event; this was partly due to insufficent advertising and a clash of dates with the Truckfest event, only a few miles away. Despite this, Britannia put on four shows and we all had a good time (I am on the far left side, wearing a new helmet and lamellar armour).
2nd April 2011 : Flintknapping Workshop & YACs
In the morning around 12 YACs and leaders from the Bury St Edmunds branch joined me for a flintknapping demonstration and workshop at West Stow Anglo-Saxon village. We set up in the workshop building and they were all soon having a go.
The afternoon session was a flintknapping workshop for 8 people, but this time we decided to move outdoors. Everyone made some good flint tools and seemed to enjoy the session. West Stow have requested another workshop due to all the enquiries they had, so hopefully I will be there again soon.
1st April 2011 : Flintknapping on the Radio
I was interviewed by Lesley Dolphin for her afternoon show on BBC Radio Suffolk in preparation for the Flintknapping demonstration to the local Bury St Edmunds YACs group and a Flintknapping workshop at West Stow on 2nd April.
I was on-air at around 1:45pm, and Lesley asked me about how I got into flintknapping and why I wanted to teach other people about it, but unfortunately due to problems with my phone, the interview was cut short to only around 2 minutes.
Listern to the interview here
30th March 2011 : Flintknapping at School
On a wet Wednesday, I visited the Newport Primary School in London to demonstrate ancient technologies and in particular flintknapping. I did three sessions to around 30 Year One pupils (aged 5-6), to fit in with their week-long theme of the Stone Age. Along with my session, the pupils also investigated Stone Age animals, plants, the uses of fire, cooking and they also had a visit to Sidmouth to learn about Stone Age art.
The Time Trackers were observing, measuring and recording pairs of different objects. Theses included roman helmets, roman amphora handles, bronze and roman sword, flint tools, sea shells and pegs. They drew the objects and then identified similarities and differences between the pairs.
20th March 2011: Thames Discovery Programme FROG Training 2
The second Thames Discovery Programme (TDP) training day was held on the foreshore at Putney (London). Training on the day included Feature Identification; Artefact Cleaning; Surveying; Drawing; Recording and this completed my Certificate of membership: Foreshore Recording & Observation Group (FROG).
A number of items were found, including flint tools, clay pipes and some prehistoric wood.
12th March 2011: Thames Discovery Programme FROG Training 1
As part of the Thames Discovery Programme (TDP) , I attended the first Foreshore Recording and Observation Group (FROG) training day at the Institute of Archaeology in London, to help with my growing interest in marine archaeology. The FROG is made up of volunteers who have been trained in foreshore recording techniques (Finds Identification; Digital Outreach; Recording Methods; Documentary Research; Health & Safety) and have been certificated by the TDP.
The aim of TDP is to educate and communicate the historic value of the RiverThames to the widest possible audience, by working and surveying 20 archaeological sites along the tidal Thames.
The second training day is on 20th March and will be held on the foreshore at Putney.
19th & 20th February 2011: NAS Hulk Recording at Sully Island
Nigel Nayling lead a two day Nautical Archaeology Society training session on Sully Island in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, which is a 14.5 acres tidal island at Swanbridge.
Around 15 of us braved the cold wind and the walk across the 450m causeway exposed for approximately 3 hours either side of low tide, to learn about intertidal hulk recording and how archaeologists record shipwrecks.
Day 1 was used to explore the wreck on the north foreshore facing Swanbridge and discuss techniques used to record it. Fully submerged during high tides, the wreck was covered in seaweed, but I still managed to find the top section of the boiler after removing some.
Working in pairs during day 2, we measured the remains of the vessel and discussed the type of wood used for its construction, as well as the joints, fixings and general layout. Later we draw sections of wreck to plot the measurements data.
Nigel is a Lecturer in Archaeology
the School of Archaeology, History and Anthropology (University of Wales). This was course was part of my NAS Part III Advanced Certificate in Foreshore and Underwater Archaeology.
Sully Island Gallery -
There is some mystery to the wreck, with the most popular theories being the wreck of the Scotia (a 4 mast wooden vessel built in 1872, but this vessel’s keel is too short to have been the Scotia), an unnamed Pilot Cutter and a wooden tug that was carrying explosives during World War I. The Royal Commissions’ aerial photographic collection suggest that the wreck has been there since the early 1950s.
Also on Sully Island's south-eastern headland is a Danish Iron Age hill fort (more of a Saxon defended homestead rather than a full settlement) with a bank which is up to 2 metres high being the only remaining part, however this was totally hidden by the bracken. On the summit is a Bronze Age barrow which is no longer visible.
9th January 2011: 5th Experimental Archaeology Conference
I attended the second day of the 5th annual Experimental Archaeology Conference held at Reading University, which was focused on four experimental materials workshop sessions (Recording a flaked stone experiment; Micromorphology and experimental archaeology; Plant-related experiments; Metallurgy).
Around 35 people were also present and the highlight for me was the flintknapping by Bruce Bradley (right).
This conference was also part of my NAS Part II Intermediate Certificate in Foreshore and Underwater Archaeology.