Some Recent Projects
Time Detectives – ‘Aztec Afternoon!’
Norvic Archaeology provided an afternoon of Aztec activities for Year 5 and 6 students at Eaton Primary School. The children took part in a Quiz (Jaguar Warriors vs Eagle Warriors) with the losers ‘sacrificed’ to the mighty Quetzalcoatl. The survivors learned about the Aztec calendar, wrote their names using Quipu (Incan string writing) and learned the folly of Hernan Cortés and the legends of Aztec Gold. They made Aztec mosaic masks, feather headdress, fans and shields. They also had the chance to gamble away their precious maize, cocoa beans, and jaguar skins playing the ancient board game of Patolli, under the watchful eye of the god of games, Macuilxochitl.
Time Detectives – ‘Little Melton Primary School, we salute you!’
Of several recent Roman activity days provided to Norfolk schools, the Year 5 and 6 children (and teachers!) of Little Melton Primary went all out and dressed up for the day as Romans. Despite the tangle of togas and the awkwardness of Roman armour, the kids enjoyed a day packed with metal detecting, Roman writing, artefact handling, finds recording and solving the mystery of a Roman burial.
Wensum Valley Probus Club
In February Giles was a guest speaker for the Wensum Valley Probus Club. The talk was entitled ‘The Norfolk beneath our feet’ and gave an insight into recent archaeological discoveries of national significance in the county. The club kindly made a donation to ‘Little Hearths Matter’ charity on his behalf.
Giles provided an interview for a local journalist Julian Earwalker for the ‘Day in My Life’ article in Spotlight magazine – an online magazine designed to teach modern English to German speakers around the world.
Historic Building Recording
Norvic Archaeology has provided a Historic Building Recording service for several clients in the region asked to provide Level 1 and Level 2 surveys of properties, either as part of their pre-planning application package or in response to conditions placed upon alteration and development. In some cases this has included completion and submission of the Norfolk County Council’s pro forma report to the satisfaction of the Historic Environment Service, on behalf of the client.
Freelance Archaeological Illustration
Norvic Archaeology provided technical illustration of a remarkable Romanesque style silver swivel on behalf of the finder, in preparation for submission of an article for publication in the Journal of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology & History. The object was found intact and in good condition, it measures only around 1cm2 (scale 2:1) but is finely decorated with animal–like figures. The object resembles larger copper-alloy swivels used for tethering tame animals such as small dogs and hunting birds. Although no exact parallels have yet been identified, it is thought that this object may date to the 12th century and have served to tether a small exotic animal or bird.
Caistor Roman Town Project 2012 - Season Four
This summer was the final season of the highly successful Caistor Roman Town Project’s current excavation programme, which culminated in yet more fascinating discoveries at the site of Venta Icenorum. The students and volunteers made this possibly the most productive season of them all, with several major discoveries of note:
Two areas were subject to targeted excavation, one focusing on the triple ditch system on the southern end of the town – in the hope of recovering solid dating evidence for the earliest phase of the town. The other trench was supervised by Giles, and was placed to test the magnetometery evidence for a possible Saxon settlement on the opposite side of the river in an area of land recently acquired by the Norfolk Archaeological Trust.
The defensive ditches proved to be satisfactorily deep with plenty of Roman artefacts recovered; the earliest of the ditches having been purposefully backfilled and redug further south on two separate occasions. The area lay in sight of the pit-burials encountered in 2009 and two more unusual burials were discovered, one in the top of the ditch fills and one in the very base of the later ditch.
Over the river the geophysical results provided by Dr David Bescoby proved to be spot on, with an Anglo- Saxon “Sunken Feature Building” revealed and fully excavated. Such buildings were essentially timber houses, survived by a large cellar-pit and opposing postholes. This particular building appears to have been fairly short-lived, with the timbers having been removed and the cellar rapidly infilled with soil, scavenged Roman brick/tile and a large volume of butchered animal bone. Saxon small finds included two coins (sceattas) indicating a Middle Saxon date for occupation along with part of a bone comb, hone stone and several fragments of a single hand-made Saxon vessel.
Archaeological monitoring of cosmetic alterations to a well at Thorpe Hall in Thorpe St Andrew revealed evidence of the fire which severely damaged the house in the 18th century, along with a late medieval wall and clay floor.
Although the brick lining of the well dates from the 19th century, the original siting of the well may be early post-medieval, placed in an area between the two surviving wings of the late medieval house, a space now occupied by a hall stairway.
Evaluation at 126 to 140 King Street, Norwich
Norvic Archaeology carried out an archaeological evaluation of a site on King Street, Norwich ahead of potential development of a former garage site. Trenches were opened up inside the workshops which uncovered the substantial footing trenches of a medieval building, along with a sequence of intact floor surfaces. A large Saxon pit was also revealed which contained a surprising volume of butchered bird bone. The medieval building may relate to the former house of the Friars of St Mary of ‘De Domina’ established in Norwich c. 1290, their house passing to private hands following the Black Death of 1349.
Previous work on the central area of the site in 1975 by M. W. Atkin as part of the Norwich Survey identified the semi-basement undercroft of a late 15th century building and an isolated burial was found which was thought to be a possible outlying grave of the Friary.
Norvic Archaeology provided a suitable mitigation strategy for the development, to minimise any impact on known archaeological deposits. A further stage of archaeological work is expected to take place later in the year during a preparatory phase of groundworks.
Archaeological work within the Garth of Norwich Cathedral
Norvic Archaeology carried out a programme of archaeological work necessitated by the installation of a new lighting system within the Cloister Walk & Garth of Norwich Cathedral. Monitoring and keyhole investigation of light pits in every bay and a cable trench around the inner edge of the Garth has allowed for several new observations and significant discoveries.
These include the location of several sub-surface 18th to 19th century brick vaults, buried early gothic grave markers, medieval and post-medieval graves, a medieval rubbish pit and most intriguingly the footings for an ?early medieval wall in the south-west corner of the Garth. This could relate to the original Romanesque style cloister and is currently conjectured to be the site of a former lavatorium. Noteworthy finds collected during the project include musket balls, several jettons and a rare Late Saxon silver hammered coin of Edward “the martyr” (975-978).
Talk for the Norwich Science Café
Giles gave a talk as part of the Norwich Science Café at the Maddermarket Theatre Bar entitled ‘Digging or excavating? The role of professional archaeologists in the discovery of Norfolk's past’. The talk explored the processes, methods and techniques employed by commercial archaeologists with examples of recent local sites which have made use of a range of scientific methods to better tell the story of Norfolk’s past. For more information on the café or to be added to the mailing list please contact email@example.com or Twitter @SciCafeNorwich.
Archaeological Excavation at Winston Drive, South Creake
An archaeological evaluation by Norvic Archaeology ahead of development for new housing confirmed the presence of buried Roman archaeological features. The subsequent excavation uncovered the corner of large enclosure which would have formed a secure boundary around a Roman settlement, such as a small villa or busy farmstead. The results of the work will not be fully understood until all of the information collected on site has been carefully analysed and assessed. However, pottery, coins and a gilded disc style brooch suggest that the enclosed settlement was established by the end of the 3rd century, a time of great change which saw the construction of a series of coastal forts to defend the region from Saxon raiders. Other artefacts collected include a glass bead, very large pieces of butchered animal bone, along with fragments of daub and metal working waste.
A surprise discovery was also made in the form of large sherds of decorated prehistoric pottery and flint tools, including a ‘horseshoe’ style scraper and a transverse arrowhead. The pottery includes part of a collared urn dating from the Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age and may be part of prehistoric funerary monument that was ploughed over during the Roman period.
Although South Creake is located close to the routes of two Roman Roads, aside from the discovery of a hoard of Roman coins in 1799, no evidence for Roman settlement has been reported in the area before.
Archaeological Excavation at Spixworth Road
Giles provided archaeological services as part of a team of local archaeologists on behalf of PCA Ltd during the strip, map and sample excavation of a 3.8 hectare housing development by Taylor Wimpey (East Anglia), at land off Spixworth Road at Old Catton near Norwich. An early Romano-British field system and a possible prehistoric precursor were revealed, with notable finds including a flint barbed and tanged Bronze Age arrowhead and part of a late 2nd century Roman glass cinerary urn.
Archaeological Monitoring at Caistor-on-Sea
Norvic Archaeology carried out monitoring ahead of housing extensions at two locations for two separate homeowners at Caistor-on-Sea. The work at Roman Way, just to the east of the Roman fort, discovered prehistoric flint, residual Roman pottery sherds and a Roman bronze strap or harness fitting. Work at Grange Road to the south of the fort proved even more insightful – a new soakaway trench revealed part of ditch containing Roman rubbish, including animal bone, roof tiles, daub, iron nails and pottery sherds; demonstrating that the southern area of the vicus may well have extended as far as this low lying area by the 3rd to 4th century.
Time Detective Days
Norvic Archaeology provided an engaging series of days packed with medieval activities for Year 1 and 2 school children. They became Time Detectives for the day to solve the riddle of a mysterious medieval burial and find out what life was like in the Middle Ages. They dressed up as Serfs, Merchants, Monks, Nobles and Craftsmen and had the chance to try on real chainmail. They also examined objects from the past, made medieval medicine, illuminated their own parchment and took part in an archery contest lead by master archer Giles of Foxburrow.
Archaeological Excavation at Foxhall, Suffolk.
Giles managed a team of archaeologists, on behalf of Allen Archaeology Ltd, during the excavation of 1.5 hectares of land at Foxhall in Suffolk, to allow the creation of an irrigation reservoir. An impressive prehistoric droveway was discovered crossing the site along with a large number of pits thought to be associated with the production of charcoal in the Late Iron Age. One such pit contained a placed deposit in the form of a large greyware jar.
Archaeological Evaluation at Southgate Street, Bury St Edmunds
Norvic Archaeology carried out an evaluation by trial trenching at the site of a former furniture store and warehouse on Southgate Street, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. The site is located close to the banks of the River Linnet where historically fullers and dyers are known to have worked from as early as the 12th century. A sequence of cobbled surfaces and hearths was discovered which may be the first archaeological evidence of such activity in this area of the town. Above these was a series of building foundations and well preserved floors, which dated from the 1500s up until the 19th century.
For the archive of past projects please click here.