Bristol and Avon Archaeological Society

BAAS Bulletin No. 76

Autumn 2016

BAAS Bulletin No. 76


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


BAAS Website;

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

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

Gundula Dorey (Hon. Secretary)  0117 9276812  [email protected]

James Russell (Hon. Treasurer & Bulletin Editor) [email protected]

Welcome to the Autumn Bulletin


These will be held in our new venue of the APOSTLE ROOM in CLIFTON CATHEDRAL, PEMBROKE ROAD, CLIFTON,BRISTOL BS8 3BX at 7.30pm.

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).

All meetings are on the second Wednesday of the month – do note them in your diary now.



Illustrated talk by Philippa Nabb-Osborne, Community Archaeology on the Mendip Plateau.

Intrigued by the curvilinear boundary of the church Pip formed a community archaeology group to investigate the site further. Six years on Pip discusses the growing importance of the site, ongoing work and presents the exciting discoveries supported by stunning group photographs. She will also outline the important pottery study and scientific data which supports the group’s work.



Illustrated talk by Tony Roberts, Archeoscan.

Archaeologist and BAAS member Tony Roberts will bring us up to date with the results of excavations on two Roman sites between Bristol and  Bath conducted in 2015 and 2016.  The Roman buildings at Doynton have now proved to be an extensive Roman villa in use until the late 4th Century.  The site at Upton Che7ne6 has so far revealed a series of Roman buildings with associated ovens.  The talk will further update a report of the progress outlined in the BAAS Bulletin No.75.



Illustrated talk by Dr. Irina Metzler, University Swansea

Irina will discuss general aspects of Medieval health and illness including her own special area of interest, disability.  Her evidence is based primarily on documentary sources, but will also include a review of excavated skeletal remains from Bristol sites.  She will also assess topics which are beyond the modern understanding of ‘medicine’, e.g. pilgrimage and Holy wells.  The importance of the water supply in Bristol will be evaluated as both a health and economic consideration.


Please join us for drink and refreshments (supplied by BAAS) to celebrate our fabled Christmas Party.  We will have an extensive book sale, an archaeological quiz and an opportunity to mix socially with fellow Society members.




Illustrated talk by David Small and Christine Eickelmann

The Pinney estate in Nevis was outlined by Professor Richard Pares in a West India Fortune.  The talk will update the history and archaeology of the estate, with specific focus on the enslaved population from 1723 to 1834.  Bristolians will be familiar with Pero, who came from the Pinney estate and once lived in the Georgian House in Great George Street.



Illustrated talk by Dr. Amanda Chadburn, Senior National Rural and Environmental Advisor, Government Team, Historic England.

The former visitor facilities at Stonehenge were once described by the Public Accounts Committee as “a national disgrace”.  Following years of debate and argument the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre opened in 2013.  Dr. Chadburn will explain the steps English Heritage took to reach this conclusion – rejected schemes, alternative sites considered and Public Enquiries conducted.  She will outline the research involved including the laser scanning of the monument and how the content of the new centre was decided and how exhibits might be interpreted.  Analysis will be provided on key questions:  where did the Stonehenge builders live?  How did the stones get to the site?  Was the building plan completed?  Dr. Chadburn was involved in all aspects of the new Visitor Centre and the Stonehenge World Heritage site from 1992-2013 and will define the detailed story behind the building of a new facility.


AGM followed by an illustrated talk by Bev Knott on Roman Roads



Illustrated talk by Steve Marshall

An overview of Avebury’s Prehistoric monuments, landscape and waterscape will be discussed.  The talk is based on Steve’s book ‘Exploring Avebury: the Essential Guide’, copies of which will be available for sale following the talk.


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

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

Banwell Society of Archaeology (BAS). Meet in Banwell Village Hall at 7.30 pm.

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 – £3   Junior – 50p.

Friday 9 September  (BAS) ‘Coastal Raiders and Piracy off the Somerset Coast’:  Nick Bristow

Thursday 29 September (CDAS)  ‘Monasteries in the Somerset Landscape’ (Mick Aston Memorial Lecture):  James Bond.

Monday 26 September  (BGAS) ‘Kings Weston: A Forgotten History’:  David Martyn.

Friday 14 October (BAS) ‘The Black Pharoahs of Nubia’:  David Elsey.

Thursday 27 October (CDAS) ‘The History of Halloween’:  Professor Ronald Hutton.

Monday 31 October (BGAS) ‘The Growth of Victorian Clifton’:  Professor Peter Malpass.

Friday 11 November (BAS) ‘Parson Pascall’s tale of the Battle of Sedgemoor’:  David Sebborn

Thursday 24 November (CDAS) ‘Pottery: evidence for dating and so much more’:  David Dawson.

Monday 28 November (BGAS) ‘Crime in South Gloucestershire in the Long 18th Century’:  Rose Wallis.

Friday 9 December (BAS) ‘A blast from the Past-Medieval Instruments and Music’:  Jonathon Weeks.


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

Saturday 3 September An introduction to Geophysics’ Blaise House Museum 10.30am – 4.30pm £35/30.

Saturday 5 NovemberBristol’s Medieval Religious Architecture’ M Shed 10.30am – 4.30pm £35/30.


Bristol and Region Archaeological Services (BaRAS)

After more than 20 years of working in archaeology in the City of Bristol, the decision has been made by the senior management of Bristol Museums to wind up Bristol and Region Archaeological Services (BaRAS).  The last staff member will leave the Council at the end of August, while the other staff members have either found employment elsewhere or have retired.  This comes at a time of increased competition from outside companies to undertake archaeological projects in Bristol.

BaRAS was set up in 1992, as a self-funding arm of the Museum Service. It succeeded the former Field Archaeology Unit, a core-funded section of Bristol Museum, which had evolved during the 1970s and was run by Mike Ponsford, former Curator of Field Archaeology.  While most of the original Field Archaeology team left several years ago, BaRAS had nevertheless built up a considerable store of information and expertise in Bristol’s archaeology which will be hard to replace.

Museum staff, assisted by volunteers, are currently addressing the problems of archiving the backlog material which has built up during the last 20 years.  All of the archive will be transferred to the museum’s store at B Bond, while non-Bristol archives will be offered to the relevant museum services.


Bob Jones

Following the Society’s tour of the Wapping site last July, progress is being made on the preliminary works required before the next phase of major development can begin. Excavations by Cotswold Archaeology took place in June and were unfortunately completed just before the society’s tour. However, you can now read about their discoveries by going to their website,, where there is also a fly-around model of the excavation – almost like being on the site itself!  The work uncovered remains of buildings facing on the early 18th century Ropewalk, comprising cottages and workshops, no doubt associated with the shipbuilding industry that had been established here by the late 17th century (Fig 1).  The Ropewalk was in existence by 1730, with groups of buildings on its south side, some of these were owned by a certain Richard Fowler by 1802 and had been demolished by 1827-8, presumably as a result of the construction of the New Gaol.

The shipbuilding industry had become a major concern in this area by the 18th century, reflecting the gradual relocation of the industry, firstly from Broad Quay, then to Narrow Quay and finally to the west side of the Frome and the south side of the Avon.  Addercliff, as the area was known, was being leased to leading merchants from the early 18th century and by 1769 it was leased to Sidenham Teast a leading shipbuilder. At this date he was operating docks and yards, while a shipwright, Nicholas Blannin had one house and other properties, including an anchorsmith’s shop, a deal or timber yard and two blacksmiths’shops.  It is probable that some of these buildings may have been investigated during the Cotswold Archaeology excavation.

Shipbuilding continued on the site through the first half of the 19th century.  The western dry dock, which now lies under M Shed, was one of the most important docks in the city at the time.  The yard was run by the shipbuilding firm of Hilhouse and Co between 1813 and 1824 (see Fig 2 for a roughly contemporary plan of the area).  The Wye, the first steam vessel built in Bristol, was built here by William Patterson.  The dock was also used for the construction of the Great Western in 1837, the largest ship in the world at that time.

Sidenham Teast’s land was bought in 1865 to allow the construction of the Harbour Railway, which was built in 1872.  The docks were infilled at this time.

The New Gaol, which had been built to the south in 1816, suffered at the hands of rioters in the Bristol Riots of 1831.  It subsequently underwent several modifications and rebuilding. The original gaol was the work of HH Seward, a pupil of Sir John Soane, and was strongly influenced by the ‘panopticon’ principles of Jeremy Bentham, whereby all prisoners could be observed from a single position within the gaol.  However, while being an improvement upon the old medieval gaols at Newgate and Bridewell, the New Gaol suffered considerable problems, not least of which was the contamination of the drinking water which was drawn from the harbour.  Prisoners were executed by hanging, with the drop situated above the gatehouse, thereby creating a very public spectacle.  The first public execution was of 18 year old John Horwood in 1821 for the murder of Eliza Balsom.  The surgeon who carried out the dissection of Horwood’s body, Richard Smith, had Horwood’s skin preserved and tanned and used to line a ledger containing the account of the murder and subsequent trial. The ledger is now on display in M Shed.

By the 1870s the gaol had deteriorated to such an extent that the Home Office complained to Bristol Corporation that it was no longer fit for purpose.  The Corporation then built a new gaol in Horfield in 1884, with the earlier gaol closing in 1883.  The site was sold to the Great Western Railway in 1895 and most of the structure had been demolished by 1898. However, the gatehouse was preserved. In addition, JS Fry took over the eastern part of the Gaol in 1890 for use as a warehouse, thereby ensuring the preservation of this part of the gaol superstructure. The northern half of Fry’s warehouse was demolished in 1931, so that, apart from the gatehouse, only the south-east corner of the gaol survives to any extent above ground.

The new development will preserve what remains of the southern outer wall of the gaol and it will be conserved and made more accessible.  The gatehouse is currently being conserved so that it can become one of the principal entrances into the development.  A public art scheme will enable the better interpretation of this monument and of the gaol as a whole.


Paul Driscoll

Archaeology and Historic Environment Record Officer, South Gloucestershire Council

A previously unknown Roman Villa has been discovered at the former Dings Crusaders site, just north of Lockleaze in Stoke Gifford.  The villa was exposed as part of a major housing development.  Following a desk-based assessment, geophysical survey and trial trenching, an excavation stripped the site and revealed a villa complex.

So far only the initial exposure of the complex has occurred, so the complexity of the site is not yet understood, but there is a considerable amount of archaeology there and will take time to excavate.  The villa currently comprises a main villa building, winged corridors/rooms, under floor heating, a possible earlier building or contemporary outbuilding and industrial areas.  Some tesserae have been found but these were unstratified.  Coins, metalwork and pottery, including some Samian, have all been found and what may possibly be Iron Age pottery.

The discovery is unusual, not just because it is a Roman villa, but because it must have been previously exposed in the 20th century, but this information was not passed on (certainly not to the Historic Environment Record).  The villa is located beneath sports playing pitches that had been turfed, we believe back in 1947.  The evaluation work showed that there was no historic land surface beneath the topsoil (so topsoil then archaeology).  As such it looks like the villa was probably exposed in 1947 and hastily covered in the soil and grass that formed the pitches.

At the time of writing, the archaeology has only just been exposed through the initial strip, but excavation work will continue and hopefully we should be able to provide further information shortly.


 Obituary – Dick Brinnand

 Dick Brinnand, a long standing member of BAAS, passed away on 13 February.  Dick was born in Shrewsbury on 13 May 1932.  As a young man he was a keen motor cyclist, taking part several times in the Manx TT and winning prizes as ” best newcomer “.  He was also an enthusiastic amateur actor and studied drama and maths at college.  In the 1960’s he worked professionally in children’s theatre, including a London production of Pinnochio in which he played Gippetto with Ron Cook in the title role.  He then returned to college with a view to teaching, specialising in maths. He taught first at Beechencliff School and later in schools in Bristol.  After retiring in 1990 he was free to develop his interest in history.  Following the death of David Brimson in 1994 he took over as trips organiser of the Stoke Lodge History and Archaeology Group.  Over many years he arranged excellent monthly coach trips to places of historic and archaeological interest, as well as a weekend trip to York in 1999.  As an organiser Dick was unflappable, dealing with any difficulties firmly but quietly.  A gentle and delightful man, Dick will be remembered with affection by members of both SLHAG and BAAS.  (Many thanks to Mrs Janet Brinnand for kindly providing material for this note).

Painting the Baths Red.

Recent investigations in the Roman Baths at Bath by Cotswold Archaeology have found traces of red pigment on the external walls of the baths.  The discovery was made while re-examining old excavation trenches in cellars alongside the public areas of the Baths. (Source; Current Archaeology).

Recent Publication

Alexander, M. (ed) 2016.  Medieval & Post Medieval Occupation & Industry in the Redcliffe Suburb of Bristol.  Cotswold Archaeology (£19.95 ).

This well produced report provides a full account of excavations carried out at 1-3 Redcliff St between 2003 and 2010.  As well as structural remains of two large merchants houses with attached garderobes the work provided ample evidence for industrial activity in this busy suburb, including leather working, metal working and, most remarkably, well preserved remains of dye stuffs.


Changes are pending on the committee and need to be addressed at the AGM next March and beforehand if possible!  Gundula is retiring from her position as Secretary and Membership Secretary and her husband Andrew who currently manages the database is planning to leave at the same time.  We still have no Vice Chair.  The Committee will be looking for new hopefuls to fill the following positions:

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

Hon. Secretary

Hon Membership Secretary (and database holder)

And in addition it would be very helpful to James if there was an Assistant Treasurer.

If you are interested in any of these positions please make yourself known.  Anyone on the Committee will gladly talk it over with you – or come to a committee meeting and see how you feel about it.   A wish to help out in the Society and a good familiarity with IT are the only essential requirements.

Please come and help the Society to function smoothly and efficiently.  Experience shows also that it helps enormously to have two neighbouring heads involved the same job, if that is possible.  Working with the committee is endlessly interesting and always fun!

We also need help with tea and coffee at evening lectures.  Brian Orchard does stirling work during these evenings, but would very much appreciate some help.  If you feel you could help out at any of the meetings, please make yourself known to Brian.  If we have enough volunteers, then we can spread the load each month.


CHAIR: Bob Jones VICE CHAIR:  Vacant
SECRETARY:  Dr. Gundula Dorey TREASURER: James Russell MEMBERSHIP:  Vacant

EDITOR (BAA):  Bruce Williams   PROJECTS OFFICER:  Vacant
COMMITTEE:  Debbie Brookes, Mike Gwyther, Julie Bassett, Kate Churchill.
CO-OPTED: Peter Insole, Bev Knott, Wendy Russ.

Do keep an eye on the website for Event Reviews and updates.  If you have forgotten the Members’ password contact Gundula.

If you are not receiving email communications, but would like to, could you contact Gundula on [email protected]  and give her your email address.