Bristol and Avon Archaeological Society

BAAS Bulletin No. 81 Summer 2018


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]

James Russell (Hon. Treasurer) [email protected]

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


IMPORTANT NOTICE AND FORM – please read and action this note        

It would be appreciated if members could look out attached coloured papers and:

  1. Read carefully the enclosed letter which details changes to the dissemination of information to members, information about increasing the Society’s revenue by using Gift Aid and important information about changes to the data protection laws and how that affects the Society.
  2. Fill in the enclosed consent forms regarding this information. Members are asked to indicate their wishes and return the consent forms as soon as possible either by email or post to the Secretary.

Many thanks Julie Bassett



Talks usually take place on the second Wednesday of the month in the APOSTLE ROOM, CLIFTON CATHEDRAL, PEMBROKE ROAD, CLIFTON, BRISTOL, BS8 3BX starting at 7.30pm and finishing around 9.30pm. Tea and coffee and biscuits are freely available from 7.00 pm and again after the talk.  Ample car parking is available in the Cathedral car park, entrance from Worcester Road off Pembroke Road. The 8 and 9 buses both run along Pembroke Road.  The entrance to the Apostle Room is on the same level as the car park, under the main part of the Cathedral.  Guests are welcome at a charge of £1.00 per meeting (no charge for members).



Under pressure prompted by unconscionable local living conditions Bristol City Council began extensive slum clearance in north Bedminster during the 1930s. This extended an opportunity for archaeological investigations. Mike will define the project progression and extent of the social deprivation revealed.


SATURDAY 26 MAY       SS GREAT BRITAIN comprising the ship, Dockyard, Dry Dock,Dockyard Museum and the new Being Brunel Exhibition.

This will be a whole day visit to enable adequate time to enjoy the site at a leisurely pace. Attendees will be free to take lunch from nearby facilities.

Meet at the SS Great Britain, Bristol Docks at 11:00 am. We have been given a special group admission rate of £12.50 for adults and £11 for senior citizens (this price does not include refreshments or lunch but there is a good café on site).

This will be a whole day visit to enable adequate time to enjoy the site at a leisurely pace. Attendees will be free to take lunch from nearby facilities.

Meet at the SS Great Britain, Bristol Docks at 11:00 am. We have been given a special group admission rate of £12.50 for adults and £11 for senior citizens (this price does not include refreshments or lunch but there is a good café on site).

Contact on the day : Keith Stenner [(0758 2591556).



Present-day Trellech is little mor than a slumbering village lying midway between Chepstow andMonmouth, but during the late 13th and 14th centuries this ranked among the principal towns of Wales and outshone more familiar names like Carmarthen, Abergavenny and Swansea’. Trellech is an outstanding example of a shrunken medieval settlement. For many years the location of the almost 400 burgages recorded in the 1280s was a mystery. As a result of work over the last 20 years, the location of the medieval town is becoming clearer.  We will walk through the village, discuss the layout and function of the medieval town and visit the extensive excavations of the

“Lost City of Trellech” Project which has uncovered a high-status medieval house; the motte of the 11th century castle (and, if time permits, the prehistoric ‘Harold’s Stones’) and other sites where

remains of the medieval town have been discovered; finishing a the 14th century church of St Nicholas (Grade 1 listed).  Reference:  Ian Soulby, The Medieval Towns of Wales.

 Meet at 2pm at the public car park in Trellech (NGR  SO 50083 05290) right hand side of road, next to the chapel immediately north of the junction of the Chepstow and Catbrook Roads. Walk distance, approx. 1 mile, all on paved roads and paths.

If anyone has a requirement for transport please contact Keith Stenner on 01275 541512 . Every effort will be made to find lifts for people requiring them but no guarantee  can be given transport willl be available.

Contact on the day:  Mike Gwyther (07580076734).



Our guide will be Society member, John Richards, who will conduct our party around the three circles and tell  us about St Mary’s  church. If the church is open we will have an opportunity to view the interior. Supplementary information about this visit will be issued later.

Meet at the Cove, Stanton Drew, North Somerset (adjacent to The Druid’s Arms pub) at 10:30 am. Arrangements will be made for us to park in the pub “upper car park” at the end furthest from the building.  Attendees wishing to lunch in the pub should make an early, direct reservation by telephoning 01275 332230.

If anyone has a requirement for transport please contact Keith Stenner on 01275 541512 . Every effort will be made to find lifts for people requiring them but no guarantee can be given transport will be available.

Cost : £2 per head to cover the guide’s handout printing costs plus courtesy charge made by the farmer to walk on his land.

Contact on the day : Keith Stenner (0758 2591556).



This is a special event arranged by Bristol City Museum at Blaise Castle House.  BAAS will set up a display of archaeological finds and issues of the BAA to advertise our Society.  Volunteers from members and friends are warmly welcomed to support this initiative .  We are usually situated inside Blaise Castle House, but other events will be taking place outside on the lawn, which will include displays by re-enactment groups and many activities for children.  Full details will be available shortly.



A short walk around some key Bristol churches.  We will view St. John the Baptist (St. John on the Wall) Broad Street;  Christchurch, All Saints (Broad Street/Wine Street) (subject to access permission) and St. Thomas the Martyr in Redcliffe.

Meet at St John the Baptist church (bottom of Broad Street) at 2:00 pm.  All the churches are located within a very short distance of each other.  There is no charge for the walk but, where we view any church interiors, a small donation to the church would be very much appreciated.

Contact on the day : Keith Stenner (07582 591556).



Heritage Forum

The second North Somerset Heritage Forum will be held on Friday 15th June in Nailsea.

Discussions will take place around a number of topics including Know Your Place, heritage promotion, training opportunities and national heritage events, as well as regional research frameworks, current projects and enhancement of the Historic Environment Record.  These forums will be taking place every six months, in different locations across the district, highlighting the rich and varied heritage that North Somerset has to offer.

If you are a member of a local history, archaeology or heritage interest group and would like to attend future events, please contact the heritage officers at [email protected]

Know Your Place

In collaboration with the Council’s Libraries service, training sessions will be held by the Archaeologist and Conservation & Heritage Officer for anyone who wishes to know more about Know Your Place and how to add their own records to the Community Layer.

Workshops will be held at the following locations:  Yatton Library: Wednesday 16th May – 10.30am – 12pm.  Long Ashton Library: Wednesday 16th May – 1.30pm – 3pm.  Pill Library: Monday 22nd May – 10.30am – 12pm.  Portishead Library: Wednesday 23rd May – 1.30pm – 3pm

Yatton cemetery

Excavations are now complete at the possible Romano-British/post-Roman cemetery in Yatton, and crucial post-excavation analysis will shortly be underway to provide us with a better insight into this exciting find, and how it fits into the wider landscape context.

Worlebury Hillfort Project

Work is continuing on the Worlebury Hillfort project in Weston-super-Mare. The hillfort is scheduled, and was placed on Historic England’s At Risk register in October 2016, mainly due to the threats imposed on the monument by 19th century tree planting. North Somerset Council is working with volunteers, schools and local interest groups to raise awareness of the importance of the hillfort, and has just received £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to commission an Archaeological Condition Survey which will inform long-term management of the site.



 Newfoundland Street

Further work by Avon Archaeology on the site of a proposed hotel on Newfoundland Street has revealed evidence of Howland’s Burial Ground, a private burial ground that was created in 1804. A previous archaeological evaluation in 1999 undertaken by Bristol and Region Archaeological Services had established that the burial ground survived intact. During the recent work by Avon Archaeology 63 burials have been removed prior to development and will be analysed before reburial .

Redcliff Street

An ongoing archaeological project in the city is the work being undertaken by Cotswold Archaeology at Redcliffe Quarter. This is a significant excavation taking place prior to development of an area between Redcliff Street and Thomas Street. The excavation is likely to last several months over a number of phases.

The first phase has focused on an area in the north eastern corner of the site adjacent to Thomas Street where a complex multi period sequence of activity has been revealed. The most significant evidence relates to the early laying out of tenements probably in the 12th century and the establishment of property boundaries and east-west routes between tenements. These routes survived as alleyways in the post-medieval period (fig.2). The properties were marked out by a series of east-west drainage ditches that preceded the buildings that fronted the street by the later medieval period.

Later phases of the fieldwork will include opportunities for members of the public to view the excavation.



Clevedon Court Reassessed

Clevedon Court has long been regarded as a classic example of a small medieval Manor House. In most accounts it is described as having been built in a single operation around 1320. Writing in the latest Journal of the British Archaeological Association (Vol 170 (2017) 152-179) David Fogden presents a thorough reassessment of the medieval structure, identifying three distinct building phases dateable to c1270, 1300 and 1315 respectively. The architectural features of the building are analysed in detail, including the windows of the first floor chapel with their spectacular reticulated tracery. Fogden discounts the long held idea that the oddly placed block at the east end of the building was intended as a defensible tower-house.

Demolition threat to old Bristol Hospital

In the latest issue of their magazine “The Georgian” (2, 2017) the Georgian Group expresses alarm at the proposed demolition of the original Bristol Royal Infirmary building in Marlborough Street to make way for yet more student accommodation (around 800 beds!!). The H shaped hospital building, five stories high and constructed of pennant sandstone rubble, was put up in stages between 1784 and 1810. Since 2016 the developer Unite has put forward several successive proposals for redevelopment of the hospital site. While the earlier versions envisaged partial retention of the existing buildings the latest scheme requires the complete demolition of the hospital as well as its adjacent chapel, an early essay in polychromatic brickwork dating from 1843. In response Historic England has listed the chapel Grade 11, although the hospital itself remains unlisted. At present proceedings are stalled pending an appeal by the developer against this listing.

St Edith’s Well

A note by T Smith of Wessex Archaeology in “Post Medieval Archaeology” Vol 51(3) (2017), p433, records a reexamination of St Edith’s Well near St Peter’s Church in Castle Park, undertaken in 2016 during restoration following subsidence. The well is first recorded in 1391 and continued in use until the superstructure was destroyed in the 1940 Blitz. The shaft was lined with mortared stonework and extended down to bedrock some 10 metres below the surface. About 8 metres down the shaft was crossed by an iron bar on which rested the vertical iron pipe feeding the pump. Following a previous examination in 1992 the shaft had been sealed with old railway sleepers.

Cemetery Find at Yatton

The North Somerset Times for 9 January 2018 reports the excavation of a probable Roman inhumation cemetery on a housing development by Bloor Homes at Arnold’s Way, Yatton. The condition of   the skeletal remains was said to be very variable due to local soil conditions and no grave goods or dateable artefacts were recorded. A brief note on the discovery also appears in the CBA “British Archaeology” magazine ( March/April 2018, p9). This is apparently based on comments by a Face Book user, “Rebel Sage”, claiming that over 300 burials have been found, along with “a fully intact horse skeleton buried facing the Sun”. Both sources suggest that there has been some local concern regarding the limited publicity given to this significant find by the developers and excavators.

The Archway Project

The Roman Baths at Bath is in the middle of a major expansion scheme, the “Archway Project”. Above ground this involves the creation of a Heritage Centre and Learning Centre in former spa buildings south of York Street. Below ground a complex of Victorian cellars extending under York  Street are being opened out to make the South West corner of the Roman bathing complex more accessible to visitors. Fragments of Roman masonry can be seen protruding from the walls and floors of the cellars; known structures in this area include a circular steam bath or “laconicum” with a pillared hypocaust and a probable exercise yard or “palaestra”. Early finds include a fragment of 1st century mosaic. The main archaeological contractor for the project is Cotswold Archaeology; an active contribution is however being made by volunteers from the Bath and Counties Archaeological Society, who are set to help with geophysics, excavation and interpreting the site to visitors.

Cheddar Man

Approximately 10,000 years old, Cheddar Man, found in Gough’s Cave, Cheddar in 1903 and now on display in the Natural History Museum, London, is the best preserved Mesolithic skeleton so far known from Britain. Recent research by the Museum and University College, London has succeeded in recovering the skeleton’s DNA sequence. This in turn has enabled the creation of a striking reconstruction of Cheddar Man’s head, the work of artists Adrie and Alfons Kennis. According to this, Cheddar Man had blue eyes, dark curly hair and “dark to black” skin pigmentation. His genetic profile is shared by Mesolithic skeletal material from Hungary, Luxembourg and Spain.

B A C A S Name Change

At its AGM on 14 March members of the Bath & Camerton Archaeological Society agreed to change its name. The “Camerton” element related to the Roman settlement on the Fosse Way which was the subject of the Society’s first major excavation in 1949, directed by W J Wedlake. This however finished in 1959 and it was agreed by most members that, subject to Charity Commission approval, the name should be altered to “Bath & Counties Archaeological Society”.

The Society Journal will continue to be called “Camertonia” as a link with the past.

B A C A S  Survey in “Pewter Field”

Between  20 and 29 March 2018 members of Bath & Counties Archaeological Society carried out a geophysical survey of Little Down Field in the north east corner of the Lansdown plateau, to the east of the Grenville Monument. Banks and terraces in the triangular field mark the site of a Romano British village. Extensive if somewhat haphazard excavations in 1905-8 by T Bush of the Bath Branch of the Somerset Archaeological Society revealed parts of at least six stone buildings  as well as seven skeletons in stone coffins and other human remains. Large quantities of pottery, coins and metalwork were found, together with around 60 mainly late Roman coins and some oollitic limestone moulds used in the manufacture of pewter bowls and dishes. A smaller excavation in 1962/3 by Kingswood School produced more pewter mould fragments as well as evidence for bone and iron working. It is hoped that the new geophysical survey will reveal more of the layout of this apparently thriving late Roman industrial settlement.The survey forms part of a wider “Lansdown Environs Archeological Project” (LEAP) recently set up by BACAS to coordinate investigation of the Lansdown area.  Resistivity and magnetometry surveys of the entire field were successfully completed despite adverse weather conditions on the exposed plateau including drifting snow and driving rain and hail; the results will now be analysed for publication.

Bust of Mick Aston unveiled

A bust of Professor Mick Aston (1946-2013), the landscape archaeologist and popular presenter of Channel 4’s “Time Team”, has been installed in the University of Bristol, where he taught for 25 years.  The work of Californian artist Alex Peter, the shoulder length bronze bust was unveiled on 23 March by Mick’s partner Teresa Hall in the presence of family, friends and colleagues.  It is located in the former library of the old Baptist College, now the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology.


Obituary EDWARD RENSHAW by Paula Gardiner

BAAS member Edward Renshaw (also known as Ed or Ted), sadly died on 17th April 2018, having suffered recently from Parkinson’s Disease.  Ed’s career had been in shipping and he was still very active in the discipline, marking exam essays for his professional body until recently.  As well as helping with the tea and coffee at BAAS meetings in St. Matthew’s, Ed enrolled at Bristol University and studied for a part-time BA (Hons) in Archaeological Studies.  He proudly graduated with his degree after six years of study.  Always cheerful with a happy smile on his face, Ed will be sorely missed at our BAAS meetings.



BAAS is urgently looking for a new Bulletin Editor.  If you think you might like to take this on, or even help with it, please contact the current temporary Editor (Rob Iles, 07930 510373). Email:     [email protected]  If you might be able to do this much help (apart from doing layout, but someone else can probably assist with that) and full support will be given, especially for the first Bulletin you edit.



CHAIRMAN: Bill Martin VICE CHAIRMAN: Mike Gwyther
SECRETARY: Rob Iles TREASURER: James Russell


WEBSITE CO-ORDINATOR: Paula Gardiner EDITOR BAA: Bruce Williams

COMMITTEE:  Bev Knott, Wendy Russ, Nick Corcos, Stephen Hastings
CO-OPTED: Peter Insole, Debbie Brookes, Kate Churchill, Bob Jones

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

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).

Annual subscriptions are due on the first of January. A few members seem to have forgotten and for them an extra subscription form is enclosed (apologies if you have just paid); note this is your last reminder if you have not already paid.