Illuminating the past – Enhancing the present – Inspiring the future

Woolcomber Street ‘Open Weekend’

September 15th, 2015

The excavation at Woolcomber Street, Dover will open to the public over the weekend of 26th – 27th September.  Come and enjoy a guided tour, meet the archaeologists and see some of the finds.  More details to follow.

Great River Race, London, 2015

September 14th, 2015

Well, it turned out to be quite an adventure on Saturday! Whilst we were waiting for the start of the Great River Race in the East End of London, an announcement on the Tannoy told us the weather forecast was very bad and there was a possibility that the race might have to be abandoned.

However, in the end the race started and we set off, with a crew of nine; Paul Armour, Anne Biot, Thierry Biot, Paul Bennett, Terry Buchan, Peter Clark, Ross Lane, Hazel Mosley and Jess Twyman; ‘Boat No 1’! Right from the start, a very heavy wind blew up from the west, slowing us down and making the river very rough (wind against tide) – probably the roughest conditions we have ever taken the boat out in. Nevertheless, we persevered, going past Tower Bridge as a military band burst into ‘Entrance of the Gladiators’ by Julius Fučik; nice sentiment, but more commonly associated with circus clowns these days … thanks, guys …

After two hours of paddling there was a terrific ‘bang!’ as a huge Dutch rowing boat rammed into our stern. Some members of the crew were thrown to the floor, but nobody was hurt or knocked overboard. With a brief apology (pffff!) the Dutchmen went on their way, leaving a chunk knocked out of our beautiful boat. Half an hour later we managed to collide with a big metal buoy in the middle of the river (don’t ask me how) and damaged some of the stitches on the starboard side. Doh!

Eventually, after nearly five hours of paddling we were within 1.2 miles of the finish line, but the dreadful weather conditions had slowed us down so much that we were struggling to make way against an increasingly strong ebb tide and had to be taken in tow by a rescue boat. We felt rather despondent that we didn’t reach the finish line as we did last year, but we had a tremendous welcome from hundreds of people as we finished the course.

It transpired that none of Dragon boats in the race had even started because the weather conditions were so dangerous, and of the boats that did start, two had capsized and at least four others had retired for safety reasons. So in the end, we were quite pleased that our Bronze Age boat had survived the wind, waves, the Dutch and a navigation buoy, and that we had come so close to finishing the race. Maybe better luck next year!
The Great River Race, didn't quite make itThe Great River Race, skipper's certificate

Great River Race

September 10th, 2015

After the thrill of completing London’s River Marathon last year, a crew is all set to make a second attempt on Sunday. Will they retain The Scarborough Trophy for Sporting Endeavour ?
Approaching Tower BridgeThrough DocklandsTowards Houses of Parliament
The race starts at Millwall Slipway at 10.45 am, with the first boats reaching Tower Bridge around 11.15. The following bridge timings are approximate. Millennium Bridge 11.20; Westminster Bridge 11.30; Lambeth Bridge 11.35; Battersea Bridge 11.50; Wandsworth Bridge 12.00; Putney Bridge 12.05; Hammersmith Bridge 12.20; Chiswick Pier 12.50; Kew Bridge 13.05; Richmond Bridge 13.35. Finish at Ham Riverside below Ham House, Richmond from 13.45.

From Woolcomber Street, Dover

September 7th, 2015

This lovely seventeenth-century ’Werra Ware’ plate was amongst the wealth of material recovered from one of the cess-pits in the North-west Area.  It hails from central Germany and bears the date 1614.

In his study of the pottery from Townwall Street, John Cotter noted an increase in imports of foreign pottery into the country between c 1550 and 1775 and a significant rise in ‘Dutch’ and German wares in Dover at that time no doubt reflected its port status. This dish falls right in the middle of that period.

Keith is sending regular updates on the progress of the excavation at Woolcomber Street.
Werra Ware plateWerra Ware plate

Bronze Age boat trips at Dover regatta

August 27th, 2015

Don’t forget that the rescheduled Dover Regatta takes place on Sunday (30th). Find the replica boat close to the Sea Sports Centre where you can book a trip around the harbour from 10.00 am until around 3.30 pm – wind and tides allowing!
Bronze Age boat trip

East Wear Bay: first field school closes

August 26th, 2015

The first season of the training school at East Wear Bay came to a close last week and so much was found that the team can hardly wait to get back up on the cliffs for the second season next year!

As well as a late Iron Age and Roman quern manufacturing area, students excavated a late Iron Age round-house and an enigmatic stone slab structure which appeared to be associated within it. Several large ditches were also recorded, some of which appeared to pre-date the quern manufacturing area.  Amongst the finds were coins and brooches, of Iron Age and Roman date, and a mysterious iron object which remains to be identified.

Initial plans were to open a new area for the second season, but with so much tantalising archaeology left for students to reveal in this first area, it will probably be extended and remain the focus of activities next year.

East Wear Bay archaeological field school 2015East Wear Bay archaeological field school 2015East Wear Bay archaeological field school 2015
East Wear Bay archaeological field school 2015East Wear Bay archaeological field school 2015East Wear Bay archaeological field school 2015
East Wear Bay archaeological field school 2015East Wear Bay archaeological field school 2015East Wear Bay archaeological field school 2015
East Wear Bay archaeological field school 2015East Wear Bay archaeological field school 2015East Wear Bay archaeological field school 2015
East Wear Bay archaeological field school 2015

Archaeology watch: Dover

August 11th, 2015

You can now follow the progress of the excavation at Woolcomber Street from a viewing platform. Do drop by and take a peek.

East Wear Bay Field School

August 4th, 2015

The field school at East Wear Bay is now entering its third week and is going great guns. By the end of the first week a mass of Iron Age and Roman features had already come to light including an actual quern production area – a great find. A compact layer of chippings and dust from manufacture was uncovered, along with discarded querns in various stages of production, as you can in the photographs.

Take a look at the photos to see what else the students have been up to. Or take a trip to Folkestone for the day and see for yourself! The site is on East Wear Bay Road (CT19 9PR).

Clifftop locationBetween the towersCleaning around the quernstones
Andy Macintosh supervisesShade for photographsSurveying
Investigating a featureMetal detectorist checks the spoil heapField school at work
Visitors watch progressSite panorama

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