About the Project

From 22nd July to 11th August the University of Southampton Archaeology Department will be running a training excavation at Basing House for undergraduate and postgraduate Archaeology students. We will be working alongside Hampshire County Council Museums and Archives Service and volunteers from the Basingstoke Archaeology and History Society.
The team will be expanding on a geophysical survey of the grounds and the surrounding area begun in the Spring, as well as excavating trenches not investigated since 1962, and carrying out an extensive building survey of the remains of the Old House.
On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons during the excavation, the archaeologists will be running free drop-in sessions (normal admission charge applies) including: An Introduction to Osteo-archaeology, Geophysics for Beginners, and New Recording Techniques for Archaeology, and lots more! Why not come along and see how the dig is going, and try your hand at archaeology?

More about the project:

Basing House Community, Archaeology, Technology (CAT) Project

The Basing House CAT Project is a collaboration between University of Southampton Archaeology Department, Hampshire County Council Museums Service, and Winchester School of Art.

The initial phases of the project consist of a student training survey, to take place over March and April 2013, and a student training excavation, taking place over July to August 2013.

Summer Excavation Dates Confirmed:

22nd July – 11th August 2013

The project aims to consolidate survey work carried out in the past at the site, and also to contribute to understanding the place of the site of Basing House within the broader historical and archaeological landscape.

The excavations aim to build on knowledge about the earlier phases of the archaeology of the house pre-16th century.

This website will provide up-to-date information on the project as it develops.

Basing House Seige: Wenceslaus Hollar. Baigent, Francis Joseph & Millard, James Elwin (1889).

Basing House Seige: Wenceslaus Hollar. Baigent, Francis Joseph & Millard, James Elwin (1889).

Basing House Site – Description

Basing House (English Heritage monument numbers 240444 and 766938) is a multi-phase site, managed by Hampshire County Council (HCC). It has Ancient Scheduled Monument status, and English Heritage has been working closely with HCC on a Heritage Lottery Fund project to improve access to the site and improve the visitor experience to this important site.

Basing House Site – Periods

Findspots exist at Basing House, as recognised by English Heritage, for Mesolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman (43-410), evidence for early Medieval settlement (450-1066), keep and also motte and bailey (1100-1199), drawbridge and gatehouse (1200-1399), fortified manor house (post-1531), and post-Medieval bastion (1642-1645) and circular enclosure (1680).

Previous Work & Publications

The site has been excavated sporadically, before HCC ownership by previous owners 1875-1908, then later by Lord of the Manor, Lord Bolton in 1911 (the finds from which are available within the on-site museum). The Aldermaston Archaeological Society excavated the area in which the Summer 2013 fieldwork season will concentrate in 1962-66. Reports from these seasons are available. Post-HCC purchase, excavations were carried out by Tim Schadla-Hall and David Allen in 1979 (the motte and bailey), 1980-81 (the gatehouse), 1982-3 (the gatehouse and the defensive ringwork), the site was resurveyed in 1981, and in 1987 the formal gardens were investigated. Ken Barton was excavation director 1982-1983 and Stephen Moorhouse published the finds as two papers in Post-medieval Archaeology (1970 and 1971).

HCC has continued to excavate portions of the site from 1988-2011, working with Basingstoke History and Archaeology Society, alongside David Allen, Chris Elmer and Alan Turton. The HCC work from 1978-1991 was published as a monograph by Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society in 1999. Work from 1991 onwards, up until the current day, has been published by HCC within the Basing House website as interim reports by David Allen. Time Team worked on the hunting lodge in 1999-2000, published also by HCC as an interim report.

There is also an extensive publication from Moorhouse detailing all of the Basing House finds (1963), and a series of HCC publications for the general public introducing the site. A publication of eye-witness accounts of the Civil War siege at Basing House also exists, as do several written accounts of the battles, sacking and later demolition of the house as ordered by Oliver Cromwell.

Survey Spring 2013

Season 1 – Spring 2013:

  • Magnetometer survey of New House, earthworks, gardens and area of lodge/barn
  • Resistivity survey of New House, earthworks, gardens and area of lodge/barn
  • Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey of Old and New House
  • Topographic survey with total station and global positioning system (GPS) of all earthworks
  • Total station standing building survey

Planned Season 2 – Summer 2013 or Spring 2014:

  • Finish magnetometer survey of New House, earthworks, gardens and area of lodge/barn
  • Finish resistivity survey of New House, earthworks, gardens and area of lodge/barn
  • GPR survey of burial ground and/or hunting lodge
  • Finish standing building survey and topographic survey if necessary

Read more here. 

Excavations Summer 2013

22nd July – 11th August 2013

As part of the HLF funded work, a new outreach centre has been opened on the site, which is suitable for on-site fieldwork finds cleaning and analysis. UoS will be working at Basing House over Easter 2013 on a consolidation survey.  There is an opportunity to work with the Keeper of Archaeology for HCC to excavate a part of the site not looked at since the 1960s.

The HCC Keeper of Archaeology will be a co-director of any work carried out on the site alongside Nicole Beale, Gareth Beale and Chris Elmer from UoS and will ensure access to previous finds (stored at HCC Museums Service Chilcomb HQ, Winchester and on-site in the Basing House Museum and stores) and to published and unpublished work relating to earlier excavations.

This phase of the project (Summer 2013) plans to revisit Aldermaston Archaeological Society excavations of 1962-66, during which an area of the site at the outer bank and ditch south of the citadel was investigated through a series of trenches.  Evidence of multi-stage occupation was uncovered, although findings were provisional. Identification of phases of excavated area:

  • Two Belgic occupation sites, identified through pottery aligned with Silchester finds (mid-1st century). Although no hearth or post-holes were found.
  • Romano-British occupation site (paralleled at several other sites), with post holes, along with pottery (with some Claudian Samian ware), tile and coins and burnt flint floor, flint waste flakes (activity unidentified, although slag contained 62% iron), human remains (children under 2), domestic animal remains, some small finds including coins, nails (possibly boot) and a Bronze button.
  • System of Iron Age ditches
  • Court of the Guard, with Tudor ditch cutting through layers detailed above
  • A semi-circular earthwork from Civil War date, with iron key, knife, and some pottery.

The major aims of the Summer 2013 season will be to investigate the findings of the Aldermaston Archaeological Society, reopening all of the trenches worked on to confirm/refute claims of phases. Additional test trenches may be opened if time allows to attempt to identify the Belgic and also Romano-British occupation sites.  All work will be carried out under the advice and supervision of Hampshire County Council Museums Service.

Read more here.

Excavation Methodology and Equipment

The methodology for excavation will be agreed between UoS and HCC team members to suit requirements of both organisations. UoS will provide equipment for excavation, supplemented by equipment kept on site and used for community archaeology excavations each summer. HCC will provide paper materials such as context sheets and recording sheets. UoS will provide surveying and 3D documentation equipment, including total station, laser scanner and cameras. UoS will provide computational photography equipment and laptops for processing data.

Excavation Skills

All students will have the opportunity to excavate, and will receive training from supervisors. This will include use of methods such as context sheets and other fieldwork materials. Weekly updates will be provided in the form of visits from specialists, and daily briefs will be given. Alan Turton will give a lecture on the history of the site in the first week of fieldwork for all students.  In addition to excavation, students will be offered training in drawing and recording using a variety of digital and more traditional methods. ACRG members will also provide training in the use of on-site computational photography methods.

Post-excavation Plans

Processing of finds will be carried out on-site in the outreach centre by students. HCC will make available a member of the conservation team to ensure artefact cleaning and after-care is appropriate. David Allen will provide training to students on the HCC method of artefact storage and entry to the content management system as used by the Archaeology team. Any post-excavation work not completed on-site during the fieldwork season will be continued by HCC with involvement from UoS and Basingstoke History and Archaeology Society volunteers.  The management and storage of artefacts will be the responsibility of HCC, as per previous Basing House excavations.

Education and Outreach

Much of the work carried out by HCC has taken the form of community archaeology fieldwork seasons, and this project team is keen to continue the tradition, with students excavating and working with finds alongside members of the Basingstoke History and Archaeology Society and the general public, supervised by HCC and UoS.

During and after the 3 week season, provisions will be made by HCC to enable students to produce displays and posters for open day(s) and school visits.

Other Opportunities for Students

The student fieldwork will be the continuation of project at Basing House to review previous excavations and survey work dating back to 1900s. Easter 2013 will see a 2 week fieldwork survey with Dom Barker, Kris Strutt and Tim Sly, as part of the modules ARCH3014, Geophysical Survey Practical and ARCH2024, Archaeological Survey and Recording. Takes the form of a geophysical Survey, topographic survey and standing building survey probably over two seasons March-April of each year.

This project also incorporates the Winchester School of Art and ACRG art and archaeology project. Students will therefore have access to training in art approaches, and access to training in 3D documentation equipment (not available in Department of Archaeology), such as the handheld laser scanner and subsequent 3D printing of objects where relevant. There is an extensive collection of artefacts held at Chilcomb HQ which will be used for this part of the project.

For students interested in diversifying their experience to incorporate education, outreach, curation, exhibition design, the WSA/ACRG portion of the project will incorporate an exhibition, supervised by HCC Museums Service professionals, to be developed by students from both departments to be exhibited on-site at Basing House and also at Winchester School of Art’s dedicated gallery space, with a possibility of display at Milestones Museum and/or the Willis Museum, both in Basingstoke and HCC managed.

All students will have the opportunity to be involved in post-excavation work, including preparation of publications, if they so choose.


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