Next Lecture: Friday 10th March
Next Friday (10th March) the Staffordshire Archaeologist, Steve Dean, is coming to the Potteries Museum in Hanley to give SOTMAS an update on recent archaeology in the county. It's becoming a tradition that whenever the County Archaeologist comes to speak to us, it follows hot on the heels of a remarkable find in our area. Next Friday's lecture is a case in point. Steve Dean will be covering other important discoveries in Staffordshire over the last couple of years, but he will be including the exciting find of Iron Age torcs near to Leek, recently announced to the press. (See the photo below). The torcs are at the Potteries Museum for another two weeks, so try to see them before they disappear for a while for valuation etc. and it should be another fascinating talk next Friday, so do try to make it.
As usual, the lecture will be given in the Learning Suite of the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Hanley on Fridays at 7.45 p.m. Entrance at the side of the Potteries Museum, off Warner Street. Admission is free to members. Visitors are welcome: £3, students £1.50
3rd March 2017
Society Rooms Opening Dates 2017
We are now able to announce the full list of Fridays in 2017 when our rooms in the Museum are open for our use. On some of these days we will have a lecture (see below). When there is no lecture, we will be doing post-excavation work, planning future surveys and excavations etc. Our extensive library of history and archaeology-related books will be open on all these dates.
18th February 2017
Early start to the lecture on 13th January: 7pm
lecture, "New Light Under Old
Wrappings: Manchester Museum's Egyptian Mummies" by Dr Campbell Price
will start at the earlier time of 7pm (not the usual 7:45).
Dr Price has participated in fieldwork at Zawiyet Umm el-Rakham and Saqqara.
Since 2011, he has been the Curator of Egypt and Sudan at The Manchester
Museum, home of one of the UK’s largest Egyptology collections. His research
interests include Egyptian elite culture in the First Millennium BC, and the
presentation of ancient Egypt in museums.
Read about the whole lecture programme, and the full set of dates, here.
7th January 2017
New Year/Spring 2017 Lecture Programme
Our New Year Lecture Programme for 2017 is now
available. We have a very wide-ranging set of interesting lectures
covering such diverse topics as Egyptian mummies in Manchester,
Viking boat burials in the Scottish Highlands, and a Victorian railway
carriage in Rudyard. Lectures on Britain's most important Mesolithic site
of Star Carr in Yorkshire; the excavations of burials including that of William Shakespeare;
a review of recent professional archaeology projects in Staffordshire; and finally the re-arranged
talk about the first Dukes of Sutherland and their Hall in Trentham
(postponed from December 2016), complete the set.
Read more detail, and the full set of dates here.
21st December 2016
On the 11th September 2016 we returned to Mucklestone, where in 2013 & 2014 we carried out a geophysics survey and a small exploratory excavation. Having found what appeared to be evidence of a bread oven, together with quite a lot of early 18th Century pottery sherds, we intended to return to do a more extensive dig. However, no opportunity arose in the farmer's cultivation programme - until now. Working 3 days a week on the site until the 3rd of November, we confirmed the location of the bread oven. We believe it was a wattle and daub construction, curved at the back with a straight front face supported on a timber beam, the burnt remains of which still lie between two rows of large stones. We found little brick, most of the rubble was baked daub. In the photo below (click on it to get a larger view) you can make out the oven's outline on the ground. To see more pictures and descriptions of the dig as it progressed and of some of the finds, see our Mucklestone 2016 page. We plan to visit the site again next year to see what, if anything, we can find of any house which the oven may have been associated with.
21st November 2016
Trentham Gardens Ice House
On the 4th September 2016 we finished our excavation of the ice house in Trentham Gardens. Or rather, we have stopped because we have come to the end of the time we agreed with the estate staff, and we are ready to move on to Mucklestone (of which more later). There is still some more to be found out about the ice house structure - for example we have not fully exposed what remains of the outer walls, particularly those at the N end. We may be allowed to do some more next year, and we are soon to meet with the estate management to discuss the future of the ice house. Watch this space. In the meantime, go to our "dig diary" page to see how we progressed to this point, with pictures. Here is a final picture (looking S) showing how we have left the site:
Trentham Gardens Ice House
Following up on the survey we did in April of the Icehouse in Trentham Gardens, we have just started an excavation there, in order to try to find out the full extent of any remaining structure. Go to our "dig diary" page to find out more, with pictures. Here is one picture to get you started...
28th July 2016
Coxbank Farm Burnt Mound
On the 17th July we finished our excavation of the Burnt Mound at Coxbank Farm. We did not find any significant features under the heat-shattered stones and charcoal of the burnt mound itself, other than the start of a channel leading into the large feature we investigated last year. In this area we did this year find some large pieces of charcoal, one of which is pictured in situ in the previous (8th June) news entry for this site further down this page. In the following picture, you can see it post-excavation - not as large as some of us hoped! Also pictured is what we think may be a hammer stone which was found during the dig. You can see other pictures from this year in our excavation diary here, where you will also find our dig director's round-up when available.
28th July 2016
Autumn 2016 Lecture Programme
Lectures for our Autumn season have now been arranged. The first lecture is about the identity of one of the skeletons which the society excavated at the site of the Cistercian Abbey of Abbey Hulton in the late 1970's. And the last concerns Trentham, where we will be conducting an excavation this year. The other lectures look to be extremely interesting as well, and we expect to have some more background information on the speakers and their lectures nearer the date of the AGM, which will be held in the museum rooms at 7:30pm on Friday October 7th (slightly later than last year), the week before the first lecture. Meanwhile, here are the dates of the lectures for your diary.
28th June 2016
Big Moor visit
On Saturday 18th June, members of the Society and our guests enjoyed a most informative guided tour of prehistoric (and more recent) remains on Big Moor in the Derbyshire Peak District. Our guide was the Peak District archaeologist Dr John Barnatt. In the picture below (click on it to enlarge it), John is telling us about the stone circle known as Barbrook I. For more pictures and some background information and links, click here.
21st June 2016
Coxbank Farm Burnt Mound
We have returned again to continue our excavation of the Burnt Mound at Coxbank Farm. We want to find out what the apparent features are that showed up in the magnetometry survey, just S of the area we excavated last year. We have now been working there for four weeks so far this year, and have already found what appear to be the remains of a small piece of timber sticking out of the original ground surface. Could this be the remains of a post? See the picture below for a close-up, and follow our progress with this and other features in our excavation diary here.
8th June 2016
Trentham Gardens Ice House
On the 10th April, we carried out a magnetometry survey over and around the remains of an ice house which had recently been discovered in Trentham Gardens during work to restore some of Capability Brown's 18th Century landscape.
Clearance of rhododendrons and trees revealed this brickwork:
The Estate think that this is part of an ice house which was shown on estate plans before and after Capability Brown's transformation of the gardens. Here is a diagram of a typical ice house taken from a 19th Century gardening encyclopaedia :
24th April 2016
Bury Bank Survey
On the 6th March, a small team of SOTMAS members undertook a survey of the Bury Bank hillfort, north of Stone. Earlier this year Professor Gary Lock gave us a very interesting talk about the Hillforts Atlas Project which he is involved in. This talk inspired us to carry out a survey of our own on a Staffordshire hillfort. You can read about our survey here. Here is a photo taken on the day, as we measured the length of the hillfort using a measuring tape - click on it for a bigger picture
28th March 2016
Society Rooms Opening Dates 2016
We are now able to announce the full list of Fridays in 2016 when our rooms in the Museum are open for our use. On some of these days we will have a lecture (see below). When there is no lecture, we will be doing post-excavation work, planning future surveys and excavations etc. Our extensive library of history and archaeology-related books will be open on all these dates.
7th February 2016
Buxton Excavation Report
The full report of our survey and excavation in a small area of Buxton's Pavilion Gardens is now available on our Buxton 2015 page. You can also download it here.
19th January 2016
New Year/Spring 2016 Lecture Programme
Our New Year Lecture Programme for 2016 is now available. This gets under way in January with an old friend of the Society, Professor Gary Lock, coming to update us on progress with his Hillforts mapping project. Then in February, Arthur Wilson will be telling us about a Bronze Age cairn on Eyam Moor, which has been named after him. Also in February, Christian Hoggard's talk is about Neanderthals "north of the Watford Gap". In March, Rachael Hall speaks to us about Project Nightingale and the discovery of a hoard of Roman and Iron Age coins in a cave in Dovedale. In April, Joe Perry, assistant Collections Officer at Buxton museum, will talk to us about the 'Collections in the Landscape' project relating finds in the field to museum collections. The last talk in the set, also in April, is by Kerry Fletcher, Heritage Development Officer based in Middlewich. She has been involved with a community dig uncovering Roman remains in Middlewich. Read more detail, and the full set of dates here.
16th December 2015
The Buxton excavation ends
Our time at Buxton has run out - we have spent two long weekends, a total of 6 days, excavating this one trench in the Pavilion Gardens. We have, we think, interested and entertained many visitors to the Gardens and given them an understanding of how an archaeological investigation proceeds. In turn, we have gained much useful publicity, and hopefully a few new members. Unfortunately, we have not found any evidence of Roman occupation. Due to the nature and depth of the levelling layers put down by the Victorians, we did not have enough time to reach down to where the Romans might have been. Maybe at another visit? We all hope so, as we very much enjoyed our time here. My final picture shows a groundsman's tractor being used to squeeze the spoil into the hole! For more pictures, and a blow-by-blow account of the excavation, go to our Buxton 2015 page.
11th August 2015
Closure of the Coxbank Farm dig for this season
We have finished the dig at Coxbank Farm for the time being, as we needed to move on to Buxton, followed we hope by Mucklestone. The intriguing feature which we have been investigating at Coxbank this year has unfortunately not fully revealed itself. We do not really know what it is. It may in fact be two features from different periods, one intersecting the other. We are hoping that we may get some answers when we excavate some adjacent areas next season. In the meantime, I leave you with the last picture of the dig this year. For more pictures, in a week-by-week account of our progress, see our Coxbank 2015 page.
7th August 2015
Autumn 2015 Lecture Programme
Lectures for our Autumn season have now been arranged. Some names may be familiar, but be assured that all the talks are new and will be right up to date with current archaeological knowledge. Deb Klemperer will be telling us about what we know from ongoing research into the Staffordshire Hoard. Professor Colin Richards will return to give us an insight into his work on Easter Island. We have Ray Johnson who will be showing film from the Potteries' past, with an archaeological slant. Daryl Garton will be bringing along her Peak District experience and talking about her involvement with Ice Age Journeys and Dr. Chris Harrison will be giving the Thelma Lancaster Memorial Lecture on 'The Medieval Mind'. Here are the dates for your diary. Note that the AGM will be held in the museum rooms at 7.30 pm on Friday September 25th.
3rd August 2015
Stop Press - Meeting rooms not open 14th August
Regrettably, our rooms will not be open on the 14th August - no security staff will be available that evening. Next meeting: 28th August
1st August 2015
Excavation in Buxton Pavilion Gardens
Today, 31st July 2015, we started to excavate the first of two 2m square
trenches in the area of the Pavilion Gardens where we did the
year. Follow our progress on this
Buxton excavation 2015 page.
As you can see in the photo below, we attracted a lot of attention!
Intriguing features at Cox Bank Farm
We have found what appears to be another trough associated with this burnt mound. We have not really found the true edges of it yet, so its orientation is uncertain. However, we seem to have a lump of clay across its southern end, and what may be a stone-lined dewpond at the northern end. Follow our progress in 2015's dig diary.
2nd July 2015
Reminder: Society trip to Sutton Park on Saturday 27th June
Members are reminded that the Society is being
given an all-day guided tour of Sutton Park on Saturday 27th June 2015.
Sutton Park is a National Nature Reserve as well as being a Scheduled Ancient Monument with evidence of human occupation from prehistoric times onwards. There is information about it here:
The walk will be led by Dr Mike Hodder, until recently Birmingham City Council's Planning Archaeologist and author of The Archaeology of Sutton Park (The History Press, 2013). The morning walk will be in the south-west of the park and will include one of the burnt mounds, military practice trenches and targets, the Roman road, and an 18th century mill pool. The morning walk will be the longest one, so Dr Hodder has asked for everyone to arrive promptly for the 10.30 start. The afternoon walk will be in the south-east and will include earthworks of the medieval deer park, a fishpond, woodland enclosures and sawpits. The aim is to finish the afternoon walk around 4.30. The walks will be mainly on rough paths, which may be muddy in places, so heavy shoes or trainers etc are advisable. There will be no shelter on the route, so clothing suitable for our English summer will be necessary. There will be a break for lunch between 1.00 and 2.30. There is a pub. We have been advised that it would be best to reserve tables in advance. The plan is for members to use their own transport and to meet at the Boldmere Gate, B73 6LH, on the south side of the Park at 10.30. There are some more details in the email from our Secretary on 2nd June.
20th June 2015
Excavation at Cox Bank Farm
We are now well into this year's excavation at Cox Bank Farm, investigating further features associated with the Bronze Age Burnt Mound which we were working on in previous years. We have identified a number of promising-looking anomalies on the magnetometry survey map, and we intend to investigate some of these. The intriguing feature which we got sight of at the end of last year's excavation will also get some attention, in the hope that we can identify it. We are also hopeful of finding more of the pot which we found a large sherd of in 2013. Follow our progress in 2015's dig diary.
17th May 2015
Tollgate Farm Samian Ware
One of the specialists who is studying the pottery we found on this Roman site has provided us with a taster of what is to come in her full report on the Samian ware. This taster is in the form of a date distribution graph which suggests when the site was vacated. You can see the graph on our new Tollgate Farm Reports page here.
In her notes on the graph, she draws attention to one vessel which was imported from Gaul. There is more about this on the Reports page, but here is a picture of the piece, which we excavated in 2003. Click on it for a larger view.
16th March 2015
The Society's Constitution
We are making available on this site for the first time, a transcript of the Society's Constitution. This is a manuscript document, first written in 1964, which records the way we run the Society. A formally controlled document, it contains 29 numbered sections, many of which have been amended several times. Every amendment is dated, and the document is now as a result of all the amendments, somewhat difficult to comprehend. The transcript, which contains only the latest version of every section (as at December 2014), is now available as a pdf file, and you can download it from the new Constitution page (which you can also reach from the main menu via the About page). The pdf will be replaced as and when any further amendments are agreed, and a note made on the Constitution page.
3rd February 2015
The news which previously appeared on the rest of this page related to 2014, and can now be found by following the "More News" link below. Details of all the fieldwork and reports mentioned there can be found via the "Fieldwork and Trips" menu, above.
All images are (unless stated otherwise) copyright to Stoke-on-Trent Museum Archaeological Society (SOTMAS) and, on request, may be used for non-commercial purposes