Bristol and Avon Archaeological Society

BAAS Bulletin No. 78

Summer 2017

Formerly Bristol & Avon Archaeological Research Group
Registered Charity No. 229317


BAAS Website:

If you have queries about BAAS events or activities please contact the following:

Keith Stenner (Hon. Programme Secretary)  01275 541512  [email protected]

Julie Bassett (Hon Membership Secretary) 07749 822508 [email protected]

Rob Iles (Hon. Secretary)  0793 0510 373 [email protected]

James Russell (Hon. Treasurer) [email protected]

Welcome to the Summer Bulletin



An afternoon relaxed pace walk around the old town of Bristol led by our Chairman Bob Jones (Bob’s mobile no 07746 101106).

Meet at the obelisk on High Street and opposite the disused Norwich Union Building at 2:30 pm.


Claimed as the most authentic Tudor building in England the surviving East wing was built especially for a visit by Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in 1535.

We will tour the house and grounds led by a Blue Badge Guide. Tea and home-made cakes are available. There is partial access for disabled visitors with ample parking and toilets on site.

Meet at Acton Court, Latteridge Road, Iron Acton, Bristol, BS37 9TL at 2:30 pm . Cost £6.50 per head based on a party of 20. For further information visit the Acton Court website:


A special event arranged by Bristol Museum. BAAS plan to have a display featured and volunteers to support this initiative are warmly welcomed. Full details will be available on the website shortly.


There are two caves. The Bone Cave contains animal bones from the Pleistocene era and has a large hole in the roof thought to have been used as a pitfall trap. The Stalactite Cave is somewhat larger, has a deep lake in one of the chambers and was utilized as a show cave during the 19th century. The site also has grottos and follies, bone repository and Banwell Tower which was completed in 1840. We will have a guided tour of the site.

Meet at Banwell Caves, Wells Lane, Banwell, Somerset, BS29 6NA at 2:00 pm and allow three hours for stay. The cost per head is £12 to include tea and home-made cakes. The party size is limited to 20 people – please could you let Keith know that you wish to come.


Dating from C14 the barn is unusual as it was built for secular use. There is also a C15 dovecote. St Michael’s dates back to around 1200 and despite extensive C19 restoration still retains C14 wall paintings and a fine collection of stone effigies which date from the 14th century.

Our visit will be led by specialist guides. We meet at 2:00 pm (allow three hours for complete visit) at Winterbourne Medieval Barn, Church Lane, Winterbourne, BS36 1SE. For further information visit Cost £7.50 per head to include refreshments.


These will be held in our usual venue of the APOSTLE ROOM in CLIFTON CATHEDRAL, PEMBROKE ROAD, CLIFTON,BRISTOL BS8 3BX on the second Wednesday of each month at 7:30 pm.

Keith Stenner has been working hard to put the summer and autumn/winter programme together. The talks until Christmas are pretty well fixed. These are:

WEDNESDAY 13 SEPTEMBER:  LOCKLEAZE ROMAN VILLA by Laurie Coleman, Cotswold Archaeology


The most well known of the many medieval military religious orders which arose during the Crusades. The rules which governed them encompassed two apparently irreconcilable medieval conceits, knighthood and monasticism – they were monks licensed to kill! The talk will cover a brief exploration of their origins, evolving objectives and organisation, landholding and the ways in which they exploited them. Surviving buildings will be discussed and the background to the suppression of the order in the early 14th century.


There will be more details of all of these talks in the next Bulletin which comes out in early September.


 Wine, food, quiz, book sale and much more…….


M SHED: Skeletons: Our Buried Bones until 3rd September

11 August: Banwell Archaeological Society  Talk at Banwell Village Hall at 7.30

Vince Russett – Public involvement in the heritage of our countryside

Sunday 25 March 2018 – Early Spring Field Walk around Stoke Park estate  More details to follow in next Bulletin.

by James Russell

Roman Lead Pig Sold

In the last Bulletin we reported the discovery near Wells by a metal detectorist of a well preserved lead ingot or pig, dating from the mid-2nd century AD. As an isolated find of base metal the ingot did not fall within the scope of the Treasure Act.  Late last year it was offered for sale at Bonhams in London, with an estimate of £40 – 60,000. In the event, however it failed to reach its reserve and was withdrawn, after bidding stalled at £38,000. On 22 March it reappeared in a sale at Hansons Auctioneers, Etwall, Derbyshire and was knocked down for £25,000, presumably to a private collector.  (Source: Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter 383)

News From Somerset

On 11 March the Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society (SANHS) held its annual Archaeology Day at Wells Museum. The keynote speaker at this well-attended event was Chris Webster, describing his excavations and research at Taunton Castle during its redevelopment as the Museum of Somerset. This was preceded during the morning session by shorter talks on recent work in the county.  Richard Brunning described a community excavation by the South West Heritage Trust carried out in May 2016 on the medieval pilgrimage site at Beckery west of Glastonbury.  Previous excavations in 1888/9 and 1967/8 had revealed a chapel, priests house and cemetery. As well as a geophysical survey the 2016 project re-examined part of the chapel, confirming four phases of construction. One of the skeletons from the site produced a radiocarbon date in the range 406 -544AD, making Beckery one of the earliest Christian monastic sites in England. Bob Croft gave a short talk on two ecclesiastical sites in Bridgwater. At St Mary’s Church removal of pews revealed the tops of 17th – 18th century graves and burial vaults as well as loose skulls & bones and wall footings belonging to an earlier church of c. 1200. On the site of St John’s Hospital, an Augustinian foundation dissolved in 1539, work by AC Archaeology uncovered medieval foundations and over forty burials. Finally Liz Caldwell provided an update on the work being done by MAYA (Mick Aston’s Young Archaeologists); this new group has an active programme of events and is proving extremely popular.  (Source: SANHS e-bulletin April 2017).

Geophysics at Kingsweston

11 March also saw a successful Archaeology Day organised by the Kings Weston Action Group (KWAG) in association with the University of Bristol.  Volunteers were able to carry out geophysical surveys of an area south west of Kings Weston House, using Ground Penetrating Radar and Resistivity and building on an earlier survey undertaken in 2012. The objective was the Great Court, a walled rectangular forecourt laid out by Sir John Vanbrugh in 1713 and containing an oval driveway with a statue of Hercules at its centre. The court was swept away in the 1760s and the Hercules statue relocated to Goldney House, Clifton where it can still be seen.  The recent surveys have been published in the April edition of the KWAG online newsletter, with links to detailed reports prepared by the University. The surveys show a complex series of anomalies which are still being analysed. They include apparent elements of the Great Court, such as the gravelled surface of the oval driveway, but also drains, probable geological features and the edge of a 1947 football pitch. KWAG has been extremely active in organising monthly working parties, guided walks and other events. It has published several attractively produced leaflet guides and its website ( includes a growing downloadable archive of documents relating to the estate.

Amelia Edwards Memorial Listed

Amelia Blandford Edwards (1831 – 1892) was a romantic novelist, journalist, traveller and Egyptologist.  She was a co-founder in 1882 of the Egypt Exploration Fund and an early patron of Flinders Petrie.  Her marble monument in St Mary’s churchyard, Henbury features both an obelisk and an ‘ankh’, the Egyptian symbol of immortality.  The memorial also names Edwards’ long term partner Ellen Braysher (1804-1894). In September 2016 it was listed Grade 2 by Historic England, as part of a ‘Pride of Place’ initiative to highlight sites associated with prominent LGBT individuals. Edwards and Braysher lived for many years at ‘The Larches’, Eastfield, Westbury on Trym. While this house was destroyed during World War II, a plaque commemorating Edwards’ residence has been set up outside 21 Eastfield.


 Cat Lodge, who has now been in post in North Somerset for several months, has sent the following update on current events in North Somerset:

 Weston-super-Mare is the only town in the South West to have been named in the first 10 schemes by Historic England in the creation of a Heritage Action Zone. This will mean that the town benefits from funding of almost £600,000. This will be used to unlock the potential in areas that are rich in heritage, bringing historic places back to life to attract residents, tourists, businesses and investors and create economic growth.

Work is underway in collaboration with Historic England and local interest groups to enable better management of Worlebury Hillfort scheduled monument after it was placed on the Heritage at Risk register at the end of 2016.

Archaeological investigation along the route of the Southern Strategic Support Main pipeline from Barrow Gurney to Cheddar/Banwell has provided evidence for previously unknown archaeology within the district including Romano-British activity.

She has also sent details of forthcoming events run by the archaeological societies in North Somerset:

YCCCART (Yatton, Congresbury, Claverham and Cleeve Archaeological Research Team  forthcoming excavation at a Roman site in Cleeve, surveys on Yatton Moor to locate a possible Romano-British industrial site, investigations into the history of Congresbury Bridge, and the ongoing boundary stones project.

Banwell Archaeological Society ( will be running a 3 day event in August to celebrate the rich history and archaeology of Banwell.

Weston-super-Mare Archaeological and Natural History Society (  continued excavation of a site in Weston with finds including Iron Age and Roman pottery.


Pete Insole, Principal Historic Environment Officer for Bristol City Council, writes:

 Cotswold Archaeology have recently completed the excavation of a site in Bristol ahead of a new office development, known as Glassfields on Temple Way. The excavation area covered an area of former 18th century properties that fronted Old Bread Street and Cheese Lane that included the Bristol Distillery that occupied the site from the late 18th century.

In addition to the remains of the distillery, the excavation has recorded evidence of 19th century occupation and small cottage industry including a well-preserved example of a metalworking site (pictured) that lay within one of the small residential courts to the north of Old Bread Street.

Pre-dating the residential and industrial activity large scale evidence of clay extraction for brick making was recorded beneath all the structural remains. This brick making evidence consisted of large back-filled pits cut into the alluvial clays that underlie this area of Bristol. In some cases these pits extended for several metres across the site and appear to have been rapidly filled with rubble, pottery and tile waste dating to the early to mid-18th century.

Brick kilns are depicted on Millerd’s 1673 map of Bristol close to this excavation site and Rocque labelled an area off Bread Street ‘The Brick Yard’ and further on into St Philip’s Marsh ‘The Brick Fields’ and ‘Brick Yard Pool’, but this is the first conclusive archaeological evidence for this industry in the area.

Cotswold Archaeology are now in the process of writing up the results of the fieldwork for a forthcoming publication.

Tony Roberts writes:

Over the past few years Archeoscan has been excavating at two Roman sites in South Gloucestershire located between Bristol and Bath.   The first site is a Roman villa located at Doynton where we have slowly been exploring the extensive building complex. Previous years have seen a hypocaust uncovered and walls still surviving 6 courses high.  Excavations have continued to map the extent and orientation of the complex.  Last year we worked on the rear of the building in an area of possible workshops.  A small iron smelting pit complete with tap slag helped to confirm this.  The rear room was built over a ditch which had been exploited by sinking a stone-lined well down below the water table in the ditch to access the water.  This meant that the rear of the building was less stable but very thick clay floors had been laid in an attempt to address this.  Unlike 2015 when many coins and a complete flask laid as an offering were recovered, this room had a more industrial feeling. As usual much residual pottery was recovered. This year the excavations are focused on more of the heated rooms adjacent to the one of the rooms next to the hypocaust excavated in 2013.

The summer dig has been at the Hanging Hill site closer a few miles South of Doynton. Located on the edge of the Cotswolds, with a fantastic view out over what would have been Trajectus (modern Keynsham), this site was first noted in 1865 by John Irvine, the Bath city architect, but then lost to knowledge until we started to explore the fields again in 2012. In 2015 a larger excavation revealed the footprint of an outbuilding with associated ovens that had been remodelled during the Roman period. It was clear from the amount of painted wall plaster and higher status domestic artefacts recovered as well as good quality Samian ware that we were looking at a high status site but that the building we had exposed was not the origin. In 2016 the results have been spectacular.  A very well-constructed boundary wall 1.8m thick with a courtyard abutting it to the East has been uncovered.  This is a wall of exceptional size and quality that dwarfs the building uncovered in 2015 and is hinting at an exceptional structure on the side of the hill. Coins of the 3rd and 4th centuries have been recovered alongside larger pieces of Samian ware and a wide variety of domestic artefacts.  The boundary ditch has also been sampled close to the building to aid the dating and sequencing of the site. (Images of the digs, and how to get involved, can be viewed at

by Bev Knott

 Starting from 312 BC, Roman roads spread everywhere with stone bridges, viaducts, even tunnels.  Detailed survey maps perhaps enabled the definitive feature of long distance directness. Evidence for this conjecture includes the fragmentary stone land registry map from Orange showing roads and rivers accurately.

Rome had nearly 4 centuries of road making before the 43AD invasion of Britain. In Avon the road from Charterhouse on Mendip provided a route for transporting lead from the mines – abandoned lead pigs turn up along the route including at the end, the port at Bitterne. Excavation revealed a simple make-up: top surface of red sandstone pebbles mixed with fine stone and earth; next black earth/clay; lastly, natural (yellow clay).

The directness of the Foss Way route suggests a purpose. An early frontier is unlikely. Construction required several years so it was redundant before completion; by 47 AD Roman forces had reached Shropshire. A better explanation is a link between the legions based in Exeter and Lincoln. Excavation at Clandown showed 13 layers including several buried top layers (rammed gravel with ruts and traffic wear), indicating reconstruction and heavy use over a protracted period.

The Bath to Sea Mills road has a simple layer pattern: closely laid small stones set in reddish clay; then sand over natural. Stretches of this road are uncertain especially through Bristol, but it is seen clearly on Durdham Down from the Water Tower to the junction of Downleaze and Saville Road. From Bath it led to London, the A4 of its time.

These 3 examples and road excavation generally belie the common conception of 4 set layers surmounted by stone slabs. The idea of primary military use of roads is also questionable; with southern Britain pacified, the army moved on, forts were dismantled, roads transferred to civilian use. Once thought too costly, road transport relies on profitability not expense. A wide variety of freight and passenger vehicles is evidenced in stone carvings. Roman road transport cost far more than by water yet the land/water cost ratio is comparable with 18th century Britain and its fast expanding turnpike roads.

Collapse of the economy and civil administration ended maintenance of roads which either disappeared or became mere trackways until the 18th century turnpikes.

A local group is being formed to investigate the Roman roads of Avon, emphasizing their relationship with regional commerce and settlement.


Gundula writes: Members who were at the AGM in March will know that on my retirement Rob Iles (a former Chairman) has taken over as Hon. Secretary, and Julie Bassett has bravely opted to do Membership. This includes taking on the membership database which actually has been maintained assiduously by Andrew Dorey while I took all the credit. You have given us both immense loyalty and patience over the many years and I just want to say Thank You. You will now be in very safe hands with both Julie and Bob and also with Bill Martin as the new Vice Chairman (Chairman elect). Some of my old fashioned ways will be cleverly brought up to date – you will notice the improvements. Do help the committee by making suggestions and contributions – it welcomes your direction very much. Forward BAAS!



SECRETARY: Rob Iles TREASURER: James Russell


COMMITTEE:  Bev Knott, Wendy Russ, Kate Churchill, Nick Corcos
CO-OPTED: Peter Insole, Debbie Brookes, Mike Gwyther

Do keep an eye on the website! If you have forgotten the Members password contact Julie.

Also if you are not receiving email communications but would like to, could you send Julie your email address? (contact details at the start of the Bulletin).

If you have not yet paid your subscription for this year you will find a letter addressed to you personally included with this Bulletin. Please respond to it to ensure you remain in contact with everything that BAAS does.

Back numbers of the BAA will be available at the Autumn meetings.

This edition of the Bulletin was brought together by BAAS Chairman, Bob Jones.