My name is Callum and I’m studying History and Archaeology at Southampton University. What I’m most looking forward to about Basing House is using techniques and technology’s that they didn’t have on the excavations in the 60’s.
Today at Basing house we started straight where we left off yesterday with the taking off of the top layer of grass and flowers from the site. Now at the end of the day it really looks like a proper Archaeological site! And you can clearly see how the team from the 60’s dug the site with 4-5 pits surrounded by walkways so that people could oversee the digging. There have also been some finds recovered today by members of the team, the most exciting being 2 pieces of pottery that are believed to have been from the mid 17th century.However we haven’t just been digging today, there have been a number of different teams charged with other tasks to do with the site as a whole.
Interacting with the public
During this week it’s the British Festival of Archaeology which means that a large number of Archaeological sites are opening up their doors to the public to have a look around. Because of this 4 members of our team toady have been charged with the task of creating some activities for members of the public to do when they come to visit the site. Speaking to one of the members Sam over at the education centre he explained to me that they were trying engage the family with activities for both adults and their children. He told me a few of the games that were going to be played during the next two days; these included some historical colouring in for the children, while also a Tudor activity called “Kings Game” which is a form of skittles. There will also be a number of replica artefacts that public can look at with a mix and match game involved for the children. All of these activities are going to be taking part right next to our site by the tent we have set up; they will take place on Wednesday and Thursday.
While digging has been going on at the site today there has also been a team taking the co-ordinates of the site so that when we dig we can digitise the results. And once again like yesterday Clare has been taking the magnetometry of the Common, although I’ve been informed there were a few problems when a herd of cows decided to chew through the tape measure!
The Great Barn
At the end of the day we were also given a tour around the site over the road where the great barn lies. The tour was given by Alan Turton who was the curator of Basing House for 24 years. The Great Barn was a real joy to visit with history all around it, most prominently the 3 big cannon ball holes on the inside walls which were fired by the Royalists during the siege at Old Basing during the Civil War.
Also today I had an interview with another student on the site and asked them few questions about the whole Basing House experience. The student I asked was Mike, who told me that he had chosen to dig at Basing house because of the rich British archaeology of the site. I then asked him what he was most looking forward to finding at Basing House.
Mike told me that he hoped to find some evidence of Romano-British occupation of the area as it would date the site back another 700-800 years from when it is now. As there are a number of activities that we are all doing as students at the site I asked Mike what activity he was most looking forward to doing at the site? He told me that although he’s massively looking forward to finding some artefacts he was also looking forward to being able to engage with the public about the site who come to visit. And lastly I asked him what he thought we could do better as Archaeologists compared to those in the 60’s? Mike said that he thought we could excavate in far more detail and use a far wider range of resources than they could in the 60’s.