MBArchaeology

Featured

Welcome to the MBArchaeology website. On here you will find information about all the upcoming walks, talks, courses and projects – everything you need to get involved in local archaeology.

To keep up to date with the latest news, projects and chances to get involved, sign up as a follower by using the ‘Follow’ icon in the bottom right corner of the site, or send us your email address to be added to our mailing list.

You can also follow us on Twitter – @MBArchaeology - and Like our Facebook page

To find out more about what we do and to meet our team click here

 

 

Latest News

New! Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire Medieval Graffiti Survey project launching soon

New! Phase Three of Researching Roman Southwell launching in September

New! Community Archaeology project Kelham in the Civil War launching in September

Programme of courses & projects for Autumn 2014 out now!

Community Archaeology initiative for Derbyshire / Nottinghamshire

 

 

Family Archaeology Club

 

Say hello to our mascot – Archie the archaeologist –  he has some exciting news for you!

MBArchaeology will soon be launching two new Family Archaeology Clubs – one in Bolsover, Derbyshire and one in Southwell, Nottinghamshire.

Derbyshire County Council have just agreed to fund the Bolsover club, and Bolsover Junior School have come on board to host it. We are currently working away behind the scenes to firm up a start date and a time slot for our weekly meetings, but more info will be available soon.

We are also currently looking for a venue and support partner to establish a further club in Southwell, and hope that both clubs will be up and running in the next couple of months.

So if you would like to take part in archaeology activities for all the family, then sign up to our mailing list to receive more information by emailing us via matt@mbarchaeology.co.uk

You can also visit our Family Archaeology Club page by clicking here

 

Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire Medieval Graffiti Survey

 

MBArchaeology will soon be launching the Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire Medieval Graffiti Survey project in partnership with Involve Heritage CIC and with the wider Medieval Graffiti Survey.

The project aims to identify, survey and record existing examples of Medieval graffiti in churches within the two counties, and discuss ideas on interpretation such as whether they are forms of art, coded messages or merely ‘graffiti’.

We will then conduct a series of art-based workshops to explore this further, and create our own work using wood cuts, painting, photography, music, poetry and drawings, which will be used to create an exhibition to be showcased at Creswell Crags.

Provisional start date is January 2015, but in the meantime you can register your interest in the project by emailing matt@mbarchaeology.co.uk and have a look at the award-winning Norfolk survey here.

Experimental Archaeology workshop – an overview

Thursday & Friday last week saw us undertake a two-day experimental archaeology workshop, discussing the methods and materials used in activities such as flint knapping, metal working and pottery production.

The workshop was a great success, and was enjoyed by those attending who were able to have first-hand experiences of all the activities.

MBArchaeology’s Community Archaeology Placement, Sophie, has written up our experiences over the two days as part of her training programme:

 

Experimental Archaeology workshops

By Sophie Avison (Community Archaeology Placement)

 

Day One

Today was the first day of our Experimental Archaeology workshop. Throughout the two days we will experiment with a number of processes that would have been used by the people of the past. First on the list was flint knapping – the process of hitting a flint nodule with another harder rock in order to chip flakes off and shape them. This technique was used by prehistoric people to make tools such as arrowheads, scrapers (for scraping animal hides and bones) and handaxes. We each had a go and found out that it is a lot harder than it looks! Luckily, however, we managed to avoid any casualties despite handling the sharp flint, and most group members came away with flints that bared a close resemblance to those seen in museums, which we were happy with on a first attempt!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above left: Flint knapping debris left by our tool-making attempts

Above right: Group member having a go at flint knapping

 

For our next activity we used air drying clay in order to make pots, using a prehistoric method of coiling the clay. First of all a piece of clay is rolled up and made into a ring, another is then made and placed on top of the first. This continues until there is a stack of coils, then the coils are smoothed together to create one piece, and a base is made out of a flat piece of clay and moulded in. Or at least it sounded that simple… most of us managed to create the stack of coils into a pot shape but then had a lot of difficulty smoothing the coils together. However once we had done our best with them we laid them out into the sun to dry and moved on to the next activity.

 

 

Next we were creating moulds using beeswax and clay (the ‘lost wax technique’), the idea being that the clay is moulded around the wax, and when the clay has dried it can be fired which will cause the beeswax to heat up and run out leaving the shape of our carved object within the clay. We each took a chunk of wax and used a sharp flint to carve a shape out of it – some a little more ambitious than others – from a simple ring to a ‘mother earth’ figure! Once the shapes had been carved we pressed clay around them leaving only a small section at the top showing and created a funnel from that point (this is where the molten metal will be poured in). We left these along with the pots to dry out overnight, and that completed Day One’s activities.

 

 

Day Two

When arriving this morning the first thing we did was build a fire as we would rely on this for the majority of our activities today. When the fire was going we placed half of our pots and moulds into it (the other half would be placed in later when the flames had died but the heat was more intense). After about half an hour of firing, we could see that our pots were turning colour, from brown to grey, and one pot had gone white due to the heat.

 

 

We then tried some cooking using our fire pit (although we cheated a bit by using tin foil!), cooking some beef, fish and some courgette flowers and marigolds. The second half of the pots and moulds went in at this point, and we left all these firing whilst we enjoyed our food!

 

 

The pots each reacted differently in the fire although most of them survived in some form or another, the most common reaction to find was that the pots were crumbling and flaking away – however we were lucky that they didn’t explode as can sometimes happen. We retrieved them from the fire using two sticks and placed them out on the ground to cool. The moulds came out next – when getting these out we made sure to tip them upside down so that any remaining beeswax would run out.

 

 

Next we melted some solder for the moulds (admittedly, this should have been copper, but as a first attempt we decided to try solder as this is easily obtainable and doesn’t require heating as much. Solder was placed in one of the pots we had made that had purposefully been given a spout – this was to be our crucible for metalworking. The solder didn’t melt very well in the embers so we built the fire back up again in order for it to reach melting point. Once the fire was going again it didn’t take long before the solder was molten, and using thick wet gloves the crucible was lifted out and onto an earthen platform we had made to sit our moulds in, just for support really. The solder was then poured into the moulds and left to cool.

Whilst we were waiting for it to cool we moved onto the next activity, which was painting with natural colours. These colours came in powder form and we mixed them with a little water creating paints. We used flint blades to carve images or patterns into bone and using our fingers or brushes made out of grass, painted the colours onto the bone – the colour ran into the grooves and stained them making the images stand out.

 

20140718_133328

 

 

 

 

Above left: Group member carving bone with a flint blade

Above right: Natural pigments, such as ochre, that were used to colour the bones

 

Finally it was time to return to our moulds and see if they had been successful. Picking out each of our moulds we used a stone to break the pot encasing off; each one had worked to some degree of success, easily identifiable was a flower, a ring, a ‘hooded monk’, and a Thor’s hammer (‘mother earth’ didn’t appear to survive the process however!).

Overall the workshop was a success and enjoyed by all. From trying out a few methods used commonly in prehistory and beyond, we can appreciate just how different life would have been in the past, without the comforts of Ikea and Asda to pick up whatever it is we need at the last minute (even if we do build the flat packs ourselves!), and the kind of skills that our ancestors would have possessed. They may not have been able to read and write but they’d probably survive longer than us in the Hunger Games!

 

 

 

 

New Community Archaeology project – Kelham in the Civil War

 

 

MBArchaeology are launching a new Community Archaeology project in the autumn called ’Kelham in the Civil War’.

Kelham, a small village on the River Trent, is about a mile outside of Newark, and played an integral role in the Civil War in the mid-1600s.

As some may be aware, the new National Civil War Centre is set to open in early 2015, and they will be conducting an archaeology project alongside the University of Sheffield. This aims to identify and map earthwork defences in the region, both still upstanding and those that are now ‘lost’ above ground.

 

17th century defences map of the Newark area

 
Our project sits alongside this research, and is supported by the Civil War Centre, and aims to discover more about Kelham’s role. We will be conducting archival research via maps, plans and documentary evidence, non-obtrusive surveys including aerial photos, landscape surveys and potentially geophysics, plus a test-pit campaign digging in people’s gardens.

The project will run on Tuesdays, and the first phase starts on Tuesday 23rd September 10am – 12 noon at the Fox Inn at Kelham, continuing our tradition of holding archaeology sessions in the pub!

 

©The Friends of Newark & Sherwood Museum Service

 

This phase aims to cover the basics of community archaeology projects, and will focus on topics such as identifying sites, conducting archival research, the process and use of geophysics, excavation and post-excavation work, as well as including a couple of field trips and practical sessions. So, if you are a beginner or are new to archaeology, then this will help you to understand the processes we use.
Phase Two will then commence in January, and will see us start to undertake our own research.

If you would like to book a place on this exciting new project, contact matt@mbarchaeology.co.uk

 

Chatsworth Road Festival 2014

 

 

 

 

 

As part of the 2014 Chatsworth Road Festival (4th-12th October) MBArchaeology will be running a small-scale Community Archaeology project. This will run from Monday 6th to Saturday 11th October.

Our aim is to help people become involved in their local heritage and archaeology, and support them in carrying out fieldwork along Chatsworth Road in Chesterfield. The project will involve digging small, 1m2 test pits at a local school and pub as well as resident’s gardens. We will also be hosting some Finds Analysis sessions, family archaeology workshops and a final celebration event to inform the public what we did and what we found out.

The project is supported by funding from Chesterfield Borough Council.

For more information, visit www.chatsworthroadfestival.wordpress.com or email us via matt@mbarchaeology.co.uk