Bristol and Avon Archaeological Society

BAAS Spring Bulletin NO. 80 2018

ISSN 1751 – 7060


Spring 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]

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

James Russell (Hon. Treasurer) [email protected]




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).


BAAS Lectures 2018

WEDNESDAY 10 JANUARY 2018  Dr. Nick Corcos


 The excavation and post-excavation account of the mid-19C burials found on the site.  Post excavation work will be ongoing at the time of the talk so the presentation will be very much a report on work in progress.


 WEDNESDAY 7 FEBRUARY 2018  Professor Ronald Hutton    




This will be followed by the traditional Chairman’s talk. Bob Jones will present an illustrated talk ‘URBAN ARCHAEOLOGY: AN EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES’

 This will feature an overview of “some of the best bits of urban archaeology” reflecting Bob’s experience of over forty years of his distinguished career working in Chester, Lincoln and Bristol.



 The Dower House, built originally by Sir Richard Berkeley in 1553, and several associated structures are all Grade II listed. There are also fine woodland walks.  The estate is in the care of Bristol City Council and is a public open space.  The walk will be guided by John Hunt.  The walk will commence at 11:00 am.  Meet at the clock tower, Parnell Road (BS16 1WA), immediately in front of the Dower House. Parking is limited to public roads and clamping is in force for unauthorised parking.  There is a bus to UWE, about ½ mile away.  The walk may be muddy in places so wear suitable footwear.  Access may be challenging for the less mobile.  For further details contact John Hunt on 0117 9690604, or for enquiries on the day contact Keith Stenner (0758 2591556).



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.



 Meetings of other local societies this Spring (please refer to individual websites for more details).

 Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society (BGAS) Meet in the Apostle Room of the RC Cathedral, Pembroke Road, Clifton at 7.45 pm. Charge of £1. (

Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society (BACAS). Meet at Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, 16 Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2HN. £4 (members), £5 (visitors) (

Clevedon and District Archaeological Society (CDAS). Meet in the Friends Meeting House, 15 Albert Road, Clevedon, BS21 7RP at 7.30 pm. Visitors welcome:  Adult – £5 Junior – 50p (

 Knowle and Totterdown Local History Society (KTLHS). Meet in the Redcatch Community Centre on Redcatch Road (BS4 2EP) at 7.30pm. Member £1.50; visitors £3. (

 Nailsea and District Local History Society (NDLHS). Meet at Nailsea School (Green Lecture Theatre) at 7.45. Visitors £2. (

 Weston-super-Mare Archaeological & Natural History Society (WANHS). Meet at Victoria Methodist Church Hall, 2nd Tuesday of each month (

Thursday 11 January (BACAS) ‘Exploring Avebury’ Steve Marshall.

Monday 22 January (BGAS) ‘The Bristol Dispensary’ Michael Whitfield.

Thursday 25 January (CDAS) ‘The Tudor Navy from the Mary Rose to the Armada’ Dr Tim Bowley.

Friday 9 February (KTLHS) ‘The Underfall Yard – Its History and Recent Developments’ Steve Hallam.

Tuesday 13 February (WANHS) ‘Somerset Mason Marks’ Jerry Sampson.

Thursday 22 February (CDAS) ‘Somerset Crosses’ Vince Russett.

Monday 26 February (BGAS) ‘The Bristol discovery voyages: an update on the Cabot Project’ Evan Jones.

Thursday 8 March (BACAS) ‘The Origins of the Stones used in the Roman Baths’ Prof. Maurice Tucker.

Friday 9 March (KTLHS) ‘“My First Love, My Darling”: The History of the Clifton Suspension Bridge’ Gordon Young.

Monday 12 March (NDLHS) ‘Saving England’s Historic Parish Churches for the Nation – with special reference to Somerset’ Colin Shearer.

Tuesday 13 March (WANHS) ‘The history and archaeology of hill forts in South West England’ Dr Ian Powlesland.

Monday 9 April (NDLHS) ‘The First 50 years of Radio Broadcasting’ John Penny.

Tuesday 10th April (WANHS) ‘The Royal Palaces of Cheddar’ John Page.

Friday 13 April (KTLHS) ‘Victorian Clifton’ Peter Malpass.

Monday 30 April (BGAS) ‘Bristol Fashion – recent archaeological discoveries that shed light on Bristol housing and industry through the ages’ Simon Cox.

Tuesday 8 May (WANHS) ‘Busy Romans and Reversing Rivers. The last 2000 years at Kenn Moor’ Vince Russett.

Friday 11 May (KTLHS) ‘The House of Worth: Edwardian Fashions and Perfumes’ Gina Merrett Smith.

Monday 14 May (NDLHS) ‘Introduction to Somerset Archives’ Eve Bickerton.

Friday 8 June (KTLHS) ‘Bristol from the air’ Mike Hooper.

And also:

 Archaeology Day Schools run by Bristol Museum – book through the website ( or by calling in:

 Saturday 3 February, 10.30am – 4pm: Fancy a date? The use of relative and absolute dating in archaeology. Explore the use and application of dating in archaeology with particular emphasis on techniques used in the dating of prehistoric burial ritual sites. Led by Dr George Nash. £35/£30.

 Saturday 28 April, 10.30am – 4pm: An introduction to maritime archaeology. Find out about the work of a maritime archaeologist. Learn how shipwrecks and other underwater sites are investigated and recorded and discover what happens to the objects that are found. Led by Toby Jones. £35/£30.



Excavation at Bath Abbey

Cotswold Archaeology has recently carried out a small excavation outside Bath Abbey, in connection with the Abbey’s Footprint Project, which is intended to improve the Abbey’s flooring, heating system and visitor facilities. The L – shaped trench outside the south-west corner of the church was created by emptying out infilled cellars of Kingston Buildings, built around 1750 and demolished in 1834. Below the cellar floors a compact deposit of stone and gravel was encountered. It is uncertain whether this formed part of the foundations of the Norman Abbey or the footings of a Roman public building thought to exist North East of the baths complex. Remains of a probable 17th century burial in a wooden coffin were found.

Destruction in Small Street

In the early 17th century 15 Small Street in the centre of Bristol was the home of Humphrey Brown, a wealthy merchant who had served as Sheriff of the city in 1619. Much of the building, including the Small Street frontage, was rebuilt in the 19th century, and the property was consequently unlisted. However, the cellars of the house survive unaltered while at the back of the premises was a detached early 17th century two storey block with a ‘parlour’ or great chamber on the first floor. This room had an elaborate chimney piece depicting personifications of the five senses, a richly moulded plaster frieze and an even more opulent ceiling covered in complex geometric ribbed patterns. In the 1920s the chimney piece was removed and sold, ending up in the Fine Art Museum at Cincinnati. The frieze and ceiling remained intact, though largely unknown to the general public, no.15 being occupied by a succession of clubs and bars.

In June this year an application was made by Midas Properties / G&E Baio Ltd to subdivide no.15 into student flats. As this would have involved splitting the room with the ceiling into at least six compartments an urgent application was made to Historic England by the Conservation Advisory Panel to have the property spot – listed. Site visits were planned by officers of both the City Council and Historic England. However, on Wednesday 30 August, before these inspections could take place, workmen moved in and destroyed most of the ceiling and frieze, allegedly for “safety” reasons.  It is clear that this wanton (though sadly not illegal) act of vandalism was in reality intended to prevent the property gaining statutory protection through listing. The developer’s actions have attracted widespread comment and condemnation in both the national and local press and from organisations such as the Bristol Civic Society and SAVE Britain’s Heritage. There are now calls for buildings where listing applications are in progress to be given interim protection from alteration. As it is, one of Bristol’s few remaining Jacobean interiors has suffered seemingly irretrievable damage.

Finzels Reach Excavations Published

From Bridgehead to Brewery; Medieval and Post Medieval Archaeological Remains from Finzel’s Reach, Bristol by Ben Ford, Kate Brady and Steven Teague. Oxford Archaeology Monograph vol 27 (ISSN 9780904420865) £27.00. Obtainable from Oxbow Books ( This richly illustrated book presents the results from a major project to examine the heritage of Finzels Reach, the site of the former Courage Brewery near the centre of Bristol. Archaeological, geoarchaeological and historic building investigations revealed a fascinating story of change and urban evolution on the site.

Naturally a tidal marsh, the area played an important role in the late Saxon defensive system protecting the settlement of Brycg Stowe. From the 12th century large scale land reclamation provided the conditions for speculative urban street and tenement development, promoted and administered by the Knights Templar, and from the 14th century by new owners, the Knights Hospitaller. These medieval landlords oversaw the growth of an established and densely populated area full of life, trade and production on one of the town’s principal roads, Temple Street and crossroads, Temple Cross. Later medieval and early post medieval decline gave way to new enterprises in the age of Empire, leading to the site’s long-standing association with sugar production and brewing.

The DVD accompanying the book contains documentation that formed the heritage strategy and guided its implementation, along with a complete set of specialist reports on the artefacts and ecofacts recovered, and reports on the historic building recording of the brewery structures as they survived before modern redevelopment. A photo gallery and short film illustrate the work of the archaeologists who undertook the excavations.

Lockleaze Roman Villa

On 13 September BAAS members enjoyed a talk by Mark Brett of Cotswold Archaeology on his unit’s 2016 excavation of a Roman villa complex at Lockleaze. A detailed summary of Mark’s talk will be found on the BAAS website. An article on the villa excavation, by Anthony Beeson, has since appeared in the Association for Roman Archaeology newsletter “ARA News” (no.38, pp 18-20). This includes several plans of the site as well as photographs of the most interesting small find, a bronze lamp incorporating a stylised human figure. Despite substantial damage from ploughing and stone robbing the Lockleaze excavation provides a convincing picture of the site’s development from an Iron Age round house to a fully Romanised, symmetrically planned farmhouse in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD.

The ‘Dog’ Hoard

 An important late Roman hoard found by detectorists on 3 September 2017 at an undisclosed location in Gloucestershire is currently undergoing conservation at Bristol City Museum. It appears to represent the scrap metal stock of a bronze worker and comprises a wide variety of bronze fixtures and fittings, some complete and others fragmentary. They include pieces of a draped half life-size statue, a fragmentary inscription and a single coin of  Crispus (321-324 AD). The most striking item, however, is a complete statuette of a dog. Stylised but lively, it stands on all fours; its ears are pointed and its jaws open wide to reveal a protruding tongue. There are panels of abstract ornament along its flanks. (Portable Antiquities Scheme ref. GLO-BE1187; see also “Current Archaeology” no. 333 (Dec 2017) p10).



 North Somerset by Cat Lodge

 Heritage Forum

 The North Somerset Heritage Forum was established on Thursday 16th November, run by the Council’s heritage officers, with representatives from 22 different heritage interest groups from across the district in attendance. These groups included a wide range of heritage interests such as archaeology, local history and civic societies.

Discussions took 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.

Some great ideas for future collaborations between the groups themselves, and also with the Council’s heritage officers, were presented, and we’re very excited to move forward and put these thoughts into action!

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]

Roman pottery kiln, Congresbury

Archaeological investigations are now complete along the route of the Southern Strategic Support Main pipeline from Barrow Gurney to Cheddar/Banwell. A number of new archaeological discoveries have been made, including one of the most exciting – a Romano-British pottery kiln at the end of Venus Street in Congresbury.

This is the first of its type to be excavated in over 50 years, and what an example! It’s not just the kiln itself that’s remarkable, but the substantial quantities of Congresbury Grey ware amounting to over 400kg in weight indicate that this site, along with other kilns in the area was part of a significant pottery industry in the Roman period.

It’s really exciting to know that we can now work towards producing an enriched typology of Congresbury Grey ware based on the variety and amount of pottery found at this site, which is mostly waster material. Archaeologists will also potentially be able to re-evaluate the extent of trading of these vessels within the region and further afield.

Bristol by Pete Insole

Hawkins Lane/Unity Street/Jacob Street, Old Market

Prior to redevelopment of this site to the rear of the Bristol Post building in Old Market, Avon Archaeology have recently excavated a number of areas of the site. These works have revealed the remains of cellars of seventeenth century properties that fronted the south side of Jacob Street. These are likely to be some of the buildings depicted on Millerd’s maps of the city and appear to have been utilised for industrial purposes in the nineteenth century.

Towards the Unity Street side of the site a large back-filled ditch feature was recorded that ran parallel with the street and pre-dates the earliest identified occupation. The evidence suggests that the ditch was originally 8-10 metres wide and at least 2 metres deep and was rapidly back-filled in the late medieval period. It is believed that this may be the ‘Great Ditch’ that reportedly enclosed the area of Old Market and recorded as the “magni fossati ville Bristollie” in the 1373 perambulation of the new County of Bristol. Monitoring of ground works for the development is continuing.

 Newfoundland Street

 Excavations by Avon Archaeology on the site of a proposed new hotel on Newfoundland Street, St Pauls have recorded a series of late eighteenth-early nineteenth century terraced dwellings. These properties are similar in form to the buildings recently identified by Cotswold Archaeology at Dove Lane (see Bulletin no 79) and relate to the piecemeal residential developments on the fringe of the formal Portland Square and origin of the parish of St Pauls. Although these properties fronted a significant highway approach to the city on the north bank of the River Frome there was no evidence of earlier occupation of the site beyond some evidence of agricultural land use in the medieval period.

Redcliff Street

 Further evaluation work, carried out by Cotswold Archaeology on the large Redcliffe Quarter redevelopment site in anticipation of further work in 2018, has identified several well preserved medieval properties along the Redcliff Street side of the site. One of these included a phase of substantial redevelopment in the late medieval period to create a large stone built property that possibly replaced an earlier timber framed dwelling indicating the significant wealth in the area during this period.

Other trenches identified the culverted ‘Law Ditch’ that divided the Redcliff Street and St Thomas Street properties. The covering of this ditch appears to have taken place during one of the earliest phases of development of Redcliffe in the 12th century.

Within one property a possible bloomery furnace for a small iron works was identified dating to the mid-19th century. This was probably associated with a business that operated out of Three Queens Yard that lay behind the St Thomas Street and Three Queens Lane properties at this time.



2018 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING: Wednesday 7 March

Notice is hereby formally given that the AGM will be held on Wednesday 7 March 2018 at the Apostle Room in Clifton Cathedral, Pembroke Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 3BX starting at 7.30 pm.

It is very important for the smooth continuation of the business of the Society that the meeting should be quorate and we would ask you to attend if at all possible.

The Committee is looking to fill the following positions:

Vice Chairman (leading up to being Chairman in 2 years’ time)

Editor, BAA: Expressions of interest are invited for this rewarding role. Contact the chairman, secretary or outgoing editor for more information.

One Committee Member

 If you are interested in any of these positions please make yourself known. Anyone on the Committee will gladly talk to you – or come to a committee meeting and see how you feel about it.

Formal Nominations for Officers and Members of the Committee should be sent to Rob Iles (Hon. Secretary) at 56 Sydney Buildings, Bath BA2 6DB [email protected] not later than 23 February 2018.


CHAIRMAN (Outgoing): Bob Jones VICE CHAIRMAN: Bill Martin
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).

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

Annual subscriptions are due on the first of January. A subscription renewal form accompanies this Bulletin.

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