Bristol and Avon Archaeological Society

BAAS Bulletin No. 83 Winter 2019

Winter 2019

BAAS Bulletin No. 83 Winter 2018/19

ISSN 1751 – 7060


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:


CHAIRMAN:  Bill Martin     VICE CHAIRMAN:  Mike Gwyther

SECRETARY:  Rob Iles 07930 510373 56 Sydney Buildings, Bath, BA2 6DB [email protected]

HON TREASURER:  James Russell [email protected]

PROGRAMME SECRETARY:  Keith Stenner 01275 541512  [email protected]

MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY:  Julie Bassett 07749 822508 [email protected]


HON EDITOR BAA:  Bruce Williams 0117 937 2450 [email protected]

PROJECTS OFFICER: Gundula Dorey    BAAS Bulletin Editor:  Cat Lodge

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

If you have forgotten the Members password contact Julie Bassett (see title page for email address).  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).

This edition of the Bulletin was brought together by Cat Lodge & BAAS Secretary Rob Iles.


2019 Subscriptions

At the recent BAAS EGM in October it was agreed to revise and simplify the subscription rates. These should be paid shortly.  Form and details can be found under Membership on this website.  

Please note the following points:

  • They are due by 1 March 2019 but can be sent earlier if you are paying by cheque
  • Members who pay by Bankers Order/Standing Order need to send a fresh bank/standing order instruction direct to their bank in good time because of the new rates
  • The classification for partners is those living at the same address with each having full rights but sharing the publications


2019 Annual General Meeting

Notice is given that this will take place at the Apostle Room in Clifton Cathedral at 7.30pm on 13 March 2019.  Please help make this quorate by attending if you can.  The AGM will be followed by a talk by James Russell on 40 Years on the BAAS Committee.

The committee is looking to fill the following roles:


In addition there are vacancies for 3 Ordinary Committee Members

If you are interested in doing any of those roles, please contact existing post holders who can give you more information about what is involved.  The existing post holders have also all said they are happy to provide some initial assistance for the new recruits.  All prospective post holders should also inform the Secretary by 25 February if possible.  Contact details for current post holders are shown at the start of this Bulletin.



Talks 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.  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).

WEDNESDAY 9 JANUARY 2019:  Kurt Adams, Finds Liaison Officer


An illustrated talk by Kurt Adams, Gloucestershire and Avon Finds Liaison Officer.  From Saxon princes to Roman Dog Hoards in recent years some truly amazing items have been discovered in our region that have either shed new light on old questions or raised new questions yet to be answered.  Kurt will examine new finds and look at how the continuing research into these objects has unveiled new archaeological sites and led to a greater understanding of the area.


WEDNESDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2019   Professor Ronald Hutton, University of Bristol

LESLIE GRINSELL MEMORIAL LECTURE:  HISTORY, PAGANISM AND FOLKLORE:  an examination of the folklore collecting movement of the Victorian and Edwardian Eras.


WEDNESDAY 13 MARCH 2019    AGM   Followed by a talk by James Russell “A Retrospective of Forty Years on the BAAS COMMITTEE”.


WEDNESDAY 10 APRIL 2019   Bev Knott, BAAS Committee Member


An illustrated talk by Bev Knott extending his presentation given last year and reflecting new research derived from the ongoing North Somerset Project.  Initially Bev will provide focus on road connections between settlements, villas, religious foundations and industrial sites such as lead, iron and salt works. Later in the talk the commercial and leisure use of roads in the wider Roman world will be considered and comparisons drawn with developing road systems in 18th century England (see note below).


Readers of the last Bulletin may remember that the idea is to investigate transport connections between local communities and economic activities.  One such could be a route between St George’s on the outskirts of Weston-super-Mare and Banwell.  St George’s was part of one of the main salt producing areas in Roman Britain and the output is described by Neil Holbrook, the excavator, as of “industrial scale “and clearly not intended “solely for local needs”.  The town at Banwell/Winthill was involved in lead production and metal smelting. Both sites are peppered with Roman finds.

The route between the two being examined proceeds from Banwell by the modern Wolvershill Road.  As it nears the M5 the line becomes less clear but a strong candidate is a bridle track just south of West Wick. The track is about 8 m wide, has a ditch on one side and on the other is paralleled by a Rhyne, just like some Roman roads in the Fens.  However, any Roman road is likely to be buried deeply under alluvium and so excavation is probably needed for verification.

Who might have paid for such a road? as with the 18th century Turnpike trusts, it was in the interests of local landowners and commercial interests to promote and enable it. Perhaps the Ordo of the Civitas was involved, the local council as it were; the Romans were great devolvers and outsourcers and a construction manager?  Look for a retired Legionary engineer from the Glevum Colonia, but first find and validate your road!



Heritage Forum

We held the third Heritage Forum at Clevedon Pier in the Porthole Room on Thursday 22nd November, and it was a great success, with 18 local groups represented.  Discussions took place around 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.  NSC’s Archaeologist and Conservation & Heritage Officer also provided training for compiling and maintaining archives.

These forums take 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]

Worlebury Camp Hillfort Project

Worlebury Camp is a large Iron Age hillfort located on a limestone promontory to the north of Weston-super-Mare.  It is afforded the highest protection for a heritage asset in England, as a Scheduled Monument, and the land within which the hillfort sits is owned and managed by North Somerset Council.  Worlebury Camp was placed on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register in 2016, categorised as vulnerable, with the principal threats being trees and vegetation.

An archaeological condition survey of the hillfort was commissioned to identify the specific threats and risks to the monument, and to inform the management of the site.  The aims within the newly created management plan will ensure that this exemplary hillfort is uncovered, helping to reveal its secrets, lost for almost two hundred years under extensive tree and vegetation growth.

On 27th October a number of hardy local residents braved the cold weather to help dismantle a number of illegally constructed features at Worlebury Camp Iron Age hillfort, Weston-super-Mare.  These included a stone cairn, built from the stones that form the defensive banks of the hillfort itself, causing irreparable damage.  This was undertaken with Scheduled Monument Consent from Historic England.

Great Weston Heritage Action Zone (HAZ)

One of the key objectives of the Great Weston HAZ is to review the town’s conservation areas, and to consider whether its historic town centre should be designated as a conservation area.  During March to November 2018, the Draft Weston Conservation Area Appraisals and management plans have been developed. The proposal is to create one overarching ‘Great Weston Conservation Area’, which comprises four character areas: Hillside, Seafront, Town Centre, & Whitecross.  The Executive Decision for this proposal is due to be made on 4th December by North Somerset Council.

Major new research into Weston’s heritage and urban development is now complete.  The book ‘Weston-super-Mare: The Town and its Seaside Heritage’ will be published March 2019.

New aerial mapping and photography undertaken by Historic England provides a bird’s-eye view of the history of Weston, utilising archive and recently commissioned images of Weston and the surrounding area.

Heritage Open Days

A guide was created for Heritage Open Days in North Somerset, funded by Historic England and North Somerset Council.  Venues who opened their doors to the public included:

  • Curzon Cinema, Clevedon
  • St Michael’s Church, Clapton-in-Gordano
  • Stancombe Quarry, Flax Bourton
  • Black Nore Lighthouse, Portishead
  • Weston Museum (The Big Dig)
  • St Nicholas on the Hill, Uphill
  • Old Magistrates’ Court, Weston-super-Mare
  • Grove House & Mayor’s Parlour, Weston-super-Mare

Over 2,000 visitors enjoyed access to these heritage assets across the district.



New Discoveries in Bath Abbey

Staff from Wessex Archaeology supervising contractors working on the £19.3 million Footprints Project within Bath Abbey have found a perfectly preserved section of pavement laid down around 1300, buried some 2 metres below the present Abbey floor.  It was found while workmen were digging a trench to rebury some lead coffins disturbed earlier in the project.  The pavement belongs to the much larger Romanesque cathedral which was replaced by the present Abbey in the early 16th century.  It consists of a mixture of square flagstones and clay floor tiles decorated with a variety of designs inlaid in white pipe clay.

The designs are typical of the so called “Wessex School” which flourished in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and include the arms of the De Clare family and the Plantagenet arms of England. The floor will be fully recorded before being carefully reburied.  Other recent finds include a stylised sculpture of a male head from the Romanesque cathedral and a collection of painted plaster Tudor roses from the original Nave ceiling of the present Abbey.  This was replaced by fan vaulting by Sir Gilbert Scott in the 1860’s.  In vaults to the south of the Abbey a drain belonging to a row of houses demolished in 1834 has produced a large assemblage of 18th and early 19th century ceramics, glass and other objects.

News from BACAS

During the late summer and autumn members of Bath & Counties Archaeological Society have carried out excavations and geophysics on several local sites.  At Saltford on 13-14 August several trenches were opened on the site of a known Roman settlement where a stone coffin had been found in 1948 and where geophysics in 2015-16 had identified possible structures.

In the event no buildings were located, but rough paving was found extending across the trenched area. Finds included butchered animal bones, Roman pottery & coins and hobnails.

At SPINNEY CLOSE, DURLEY HILL, KEYNSHAM, a small excavation took place on 27-29 August across the road from Keynsham Cemetery, where a large late Roman courtyard villa had been excavated in 1922-24.  This was following up geophysics in 2017 which had identified the apparent south-western edge of the villa complex.  In the event little was found and the work finished early after a postulated conduit failed to materialise.

At MONUMENT FIELD, PRIOR PARK, geophysics carried out between 29 October and 4 November succeeded in relocating the site of an elaborate Gothic folly built in 1764 by Bishop Warburton as a memorial to his father in law Ralph Allen.  Demolished in 1953, this consisted of a castellated two storey triangular base with a circular tower above.  The survey also picked up a nearby bank and ditch, claimed (questionably) to be part of West Wansdyke.

Senior members of BACAS have severely criticised an apparent decision by Bath & NE Somerset Council to save money by not replacing its archaeological officer Richard Sermon, who took voluntary redundancy in August.  From an advert of 17th September, it appears that the Council imagines that an adequate archaeological service can be provided for this World Heritage City by an outside contractor for a mere £40k a year!



Redcliffe Quarter

Over the last year, Cotswold Archaeology have been undertaking a programme of excavations at the Redcliffe Quarter development site in the centre of Bristol.  The fieldwork has recorded a series of medieval tenements along Redcliff Street.

One of the more significant discoveries was the foundations of a large stone built warehouse type structure spanning the rear of two and a half of these medieval tenements.  Probably built sometime in the 14th century, the building appears to have been constructed communally or suggests that the row of tenements were under the same ownership at the time.

The exact use of the building could not be discerned as occupation surfaces had not survived, however, it is hoped that well preserved timbers forming part of the foundations will provide accurate dendrochronology dates for its construction.

The project has now begun its post-excavation phase working towards an assessment of the recovered material and eventual formal publication.



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, Kate Churchill, Nick Corcos, Stephen Hastings
CO-OPTED:  Peter Insole, Debbie Brookes,

Do keep an eye on the website!  If you have forgotten the Members password contact Julie Bassett (see title page for email address).  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 March 2019 (but can be sent earlier if you are paying by cheque).

This edition of the Bulletin was brought together by Cat Lodge and BAAS Secretary Rob Iles.