VIP Borough – Unearthing Hounslow: Weeks 3 & 4July 13, 2012 Archaeology, Blogs, LAARC, LAARC VIP, Syon Park Excavation, Volunteers
Romani ite Domum
The LAARC is now over halfway through its first ‘outer borough’ project. Last week our volunteers tackled those ‘no good’ Romans. Why precisely the small piece of Roman pottery above was labelled ‘no good’ we have no idea. Perhaps, again, an example of the strange humour that pervades archaeologists! For one thing, this piece did have its all important context number i.e. its recorded location in the ground.
Our volunteers undertook the herculean task of separating huge amounts of Roman pottery sherds by their sitecode, context number, phase number and finds number. Some of this information is now outdated in regards to current archaeological practice, as we’re working on quite an old excavation: BRE77. However, the sherds required sorting this way in order for the material to match their deposited records, also stored at the Museum’s Archaeological Archive.
Although much of this Roman pottery is intrinsically interesting, the physical archaeological of the site only makes sense when compared with the site records. Saying that, the original records, held at the LAARC, aren’t always the easiest to interpret (see below).
Pottery is one of the most important object assemblages from any archaeological site, as it’s our principle (and cheapest) dating tool. The records above show the process of trying to phase site BRE77’s Roman stratigraphy, utilizing the identified pottery. Our volunteers have excelled at turning this site archive into a fully accessible resource.
In the afternoon our volunteers participated in the Museum of London’s community excavation at Syon Park. Attempting to locate the remains of the property known as ‘Little Syon’ this gave a great opportunity for our volunteers to understand the importance of objects in regards to excavated features.
By the end of the day we had failed to discover the remains of Sir Richard Wynn’s house, but the hard work of those on next week’s training excavation may prove more fruitful!
‘Connecting our community’
Week 4 of our project and we returned to processing the post-medieval pottery from the Brentford ’77 site archive. Our volunteer teams have achieved far more than we predicated and the pottery has almost been completed!
Amongst the piles of post-medieval London redware pottery, some interesting artefacts were found including a group of contemporary wall tiles. A mystery object for the week is the tin-glazed tile below. Depicting an angel at a brazier, we’ve got an idea as to what the biblical scene might be, but we’re welcoming further suggestions! The tile itself dates to the early to mid C18th and may be London (/English) made, although we can’t rule out the possibility of it being a Dutch import.
The main focus of the project this week was to get our volunteers thinking about how they could engage a public audience with their new-found knowledge of Brentford’s hidden history. This we did with an activity the LAARC likes to call ‘object dissection’ – to show our volunteers that, perhaps unwittingly, they’re already learnt a huge amount about London’s archaeology.
And so in the afternoon, we moved into the Docking Station proper. Our volunteers were on full display to Brentford High Street’s passing traffic and despite the rain, engaged with a range of people over the two days.
In order to build extra interest, Collections Managers Lucy and Glynn were in the local Morrison’s on Thursday, engaging shoppers with both the C18th Pipe Kiln that was excavated in the supermarket’s car park and objects associated with the ancient Roman road, literally under our feet.
Next week our volunteers will be in the Docking Station all day, where anyone can drop in and engage with our archaeology first hand and see what the teams are repackaging from Brentford’s depths.