Bodies in Trenches 2013

Archaeology National Trust SW

A good time to review some of the discoveries of the past year. Much of what we have written here is to do with work that National Trust archaeologists have carried out themselves. However, resources dictate that I usually need to a ask archaeological contractors to carry out recording work.

Here are some of the discoveries from repairs, developments and service trenches that needed excavating this year. At some places, a trench can be dug where there is a near certainty that archaeology will be affected…even when the location has been chosen to avoid it. At others, we do not have enough information to know what will be discovered. Geophysics can help… but often it is difficult to know what lies beneath the ground.

In January, trenching for a new drainage system and fibre-optic cable line around the house at Montacute, Somerset was watched by Mike and Peter of Terrain…

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The Conquest of Badbury Rings

Archaeology National Trust SW

The National Trust looks after about 50 hillforts and promontory forts in the south west.

Archaeologists don’t agree about what they were used for (they don’t tend to agree).

Status symbol for a local celeb? Sacred centre? Administrative hub? Market? Defended settlement? Wealth storage vault? Prison? All of the above?

Over the 500 years or so hillforts were in vogue, I like to think that their role fluctuated over time. In Dorset, I’m pretty sure that the impressive fortresses within the county usually fulfilled their traditionally believed role, as a place people could live in securely, particularly in dangerous times. Digging deep ditches and building massive ramparts with primitive tools would take a long time and surely not something to be done unless there was a real need.

Badbury Rings in Dorset is the highest hill in the area. There are good views out in all directions, surrounded by three…

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Arthur, Badon and Badbury

Archaeology National Trust SW

Each October I lead a walk at Badbury Rings as part of Dorset Archaeology Days. The weather is generally fine, I meet some great people and it’s an opportunity to share the stories of the place.

At the end, we walk up to the top of the rampart, we look out across the hillfort and surrounding landscape and I say.

“Some people believe that the battle of Mount Badon took place here”

blank faces

“But perhaps you know of Arthur. Not the romantic medieval mythical king but the person he’s based on”

Someone smiles “Yes but was he a real person?”.

“Well, there are different views. He’s the hero from a time when the Roman legions had withdrawn from Britain and left her citizens to fend for themselves ( many of them thought of themselves as Roman. Britain had been part of the Empire for nearly 400 years)”.

Badbury lies…

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