Monday, 26 July 2010

Dishing the Dirt

Yesterday I had a very pleasant and educational afternoon looking at Roman coins, Anglo Saxon jewellery, belt buckles, rare Anglo Saxon coins, lead weights from a long extinct market, Norman "bling" and Civil War musket and pistol balls, some of which had obviously hit something...
This was part of the Archaeology Day at The Edward Jenner Museum, Berkeley, where the finds that had been discovered over the last few years on the University of Bristol digs were displayed and a very interesting talk given by Pete Twinn, Archaeologist and Metal Detectorist. One could also try Geo Physics (a la Time Team) in an undug part of the garden and a field walk looking for finds on the freshly dug spoil from the last trench that had been dug in June.
I know a lot about various periods of history but as for the Anglo Saxon era I'm still learning. The decoration and beauty of the tiny Anglo Saxon finds were quite breathtaking, especially as we tend to think of the Anglo Saxons as a fairly uncultured bunch who were rescued from obscurity by the invading Normans of 1066. Far from it.
It was the Normans who killed off all the beautiful art and decorative pieces by subjugating the population, building their massive castles and waging economic warfare on the Anglo Saxons. The latter had to conform to survive and so much that was existing before 1066 was lost. It is thought provoking to realise that one fifth of land in the UK is owned by the descendants of those invading Norman Knights from 1066.
The medieval bling was mainly pendants, coins and some heraldic pieces that may have been worn on a horse or on armour. Some heraldic devices have been identified and so we know that these people visited Berkeley, even if it is not backed up by written evidence anywhere else. The medieval weights and measures found demonstrate a thriving market and the slag found helps to confirm that there was a mint in Berkeley too.
The Civil War finds were interesting as the Museum's garden was a battlefield as well as that of the adjoining 13th Century church. Have a look at the West Door and you can still see the musket loops, bullet holes and axe marks from the fight. The defences at Berkeley were started in 1643 and these were found this summer by the University dig. Another piece of corroborating evidence was the number of pistol balls found on the site: we know that after Prince Rupert was defeated at Bristol that cavalry was sent to Berkeley, and they all carried pistols. And there is the evidence, a great quantity of small calibre pistol balls.
It is odd sitting in a tranquil garden on a sunny day, listening to the history (often violent) off the patch of land your are sitting on, but I am looking forward to the next Archaeology Day at the Museum as seeing what has been found and having the privilege of one to one talks from the experts who found the finds, and place them in context in the garden's history is fascinating and has inspired me to learn more about our Anglo Saxon forefathers.
For events at the Museum see www.jennermuseum.com and look out for the talk by Dr Stuart Prior from the University of Bristol, on the history of the site (including the exciting Roman discoveries in Berkeley) in the Old Cyder House.

that opening this message and / or any of its attachments will not adversely affect its systems. No responsibility is accepted by Copper Phoenix Ltd.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Marketing services

Developing strategy, practical help, training and more.



About us

Adaptable, analytical and an absolute focus on delivering your goals.



Let us help you

To find out more, please don’t hesitate to contact us.