Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Vol 136 – 2015

Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Volume 136 - 2015Remarkable archaeological finds, controversy over the latest film version of Far from the Madding Crowd and ‘the world’s biggest bite’ marine reptile exhibit are revealed in the new style annual just published by the Dorset County Museum.

Read about the pliosaur, the Museum’s latest marine reptile fossil exhibit, a fearsome creature which had the largest bite in the world. Experts discuss new film version of Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd. Finds from the excavations at the Durotriges village excavations at Winterbourne Kingston and the major Roman villa excavation at Druce farm are detailed. Plus over twenty other major articles.

“We are really excited about the latest volume which looks great and has lots of fascinating articles,” says Dr Paul Lashmar, the journal’s editor. “These are scholarly papers but we pride ourselves that they are very readable so there is something in every edition to delight the casual reader or visitor to Dorset.”

Weymouth Bay Pliosaur Skull © DCM

Weymouth Bay Pliosaur Skull © DCM

The new volume features original line drawings on the cover that were used to illustrate the Cornhill Magazine serialisation of Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd in 1874.

“With its classic yet unique British countryside and a long and enthralling history Dorset is a remarkable county. Home too many great writers and artists Dorset can also boast the best prehistoric landscape in Britain and the geological wonders of the Jurassic Coast. The annual, the Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeology Society 2015 celebrates everything that is fascinating and important about Dorset.in the last year,” says Dr Lashmar.

Druce Farm Roman Villa

Druce Farm Roman Villa

While Dorset inspires many books, papers and articles, only Proceedings publishes with regard to academic scholarship. From its home at the Dorset County Museum Proceedings has published for 136 years a remarkable annual collection of scholarly papers, monographs and reports from a wide range of disciplines in the furtherance of knowledge and understanding.

CONTENTS:

PAPERS

  • What Tess meant to Hardy, and why Keith Wilson
  • Far from the Madding Crowd (2015) Directed By Thomas Vinterberg. A review Paul J. Niemeyer
  • How to get a head in Dorset County Museum: The tailless tale of Pliosaurus kevani Jenny Cripps
  • The environmental quality of the Sherford River (Dorset) assessed with macroinvertebrate data – Patrick D. Armitage, J.A.B. Bass & Adrianna Hawczak
  • Underwater light-trapping of mobile invertebrates in the Fleet lagoon, Dorset – Nina Wills, J. A. B. Bass & J. I. Jones
  • ‘Gone for a Burton’: Thomas Arthur Burton (1842-1936), musician & composer, and his family (from Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Cotswolds, Hampshire & Dorset) – Hugh S. Torrens
  • Mrs Alicia Moore, dedicatee of Henry Rowland Brown’s 1859 guidebook Beauties of Lyme Regis – Michael A. Taylor
  • A token found at Lyme Regis, Dorset, England, apparently associated with Mary Anning (1799–1847), fossil collector – Michael A. Taylor & Richard Bull
  • The Dorset Hundreds from the early nineteenth century – J. W. Hart

ARCHAEOLOGY

  • Dorset Archaeology in 2014
  • Portable Antiquities Scheme 2014 – Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen
  • Preston: Bowleaze Cove Romano-British building – Iain Hewitt And Grace Jones
  • Observations at Church Street, Christchurch – Michael Heaton with a contribution from Professor Malcolm Thurlby
  • Interim Report: Druce Farm Roman villa, Puddletown – Lilian Ladle And Andrew Morgan
  • Excavation of a Romano-British well at Farnham – Martin Green, Mark Maltby & Rob Perrin
  • Mortlake and Grooved Ware pottery associated with worked stone in a pit at Lambert’s Hill, Winterbourne Abbas, Dorset – Richard Tabor, With A Contribution By Cheryl Green
  • The Old Manor, Stratton – Rosemary Maw
  • The Thompson’s clay canal – A clay-working enterprise near Lytchett Bay, Poole in the 1830s – Bryan Gambier, Alan Hawkins And Keith Jarvis
  • Witchampton chess pieces – Gill Vickery
  • The Durotriges Project, Phase Two: an interim statement Miles Russell, Paul Cheetham, Damian Evans,Karina Gerdau-Radonic, Ellen Hambleton, Iain Hewitt, Harry Manley, Nivien Speith and Martin Smith
  • The Development of Properties inside the southern defences of Roman Durnovaria: an excavation at Charles Street, Dorchester – Andrew B. Powell with Contributions From Kirsten Egging Dinwiddy, Rachael Seager Smith & J.M. Mills

Proceedings are available from the Museum Shop Price £20.00. However if you become a member of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeology Society the price is £15.00. For more details about membership contact the the membership secretary on 01305 756829 or visit the website for more details www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

For further information and enquires about the Proceedings contact the editor Dr. Paul Lashmar on 01305 262735

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Max Gate and the South Dorset Ridgeway

Archaeology National Trust SW

What would you say was the best archaeological landscape in England ?

The west end of the Ridgeway from the Iron Age hillfort of Abbotsbury Castle east along the Chesil Beach towards the Isle of Portland. The west end of the Ridgeway from the Iron Age hillfort of Abbotsbury Castle east along the Chesil Beach towards the Isle of Portland.

Yes you guessed it Dorchester, Maiden Castle and the South Dorset Ridgeway…

did I hear somebody say Hadrian’s Wall? Stonehenge?… well granted Avebury’s got a lot going for it. It’s not a county town though, doesn’t lay claim to being a Roman civitas capital despite there being a large Roman settlement beside Silbury Hill.

The view towards Maiden Castle and Dorchester from the heathland east of Hardy's Monument The view towards Maiden Castle and Dorchester from the heathland east of Hardy’s Monument

Doesn’t have a Waitrose overlying its circular henge built as a circle of massive oak posts 380m in diameter. Doesn’t have a Waitrose come to that. Yes you can still see the great bank and ditch of Avebury’s henge, you’d have to go to the east…

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A British Earthwork by Rev. William Barnes

Maiden Castle, Dorchester, DorsetA British Earthwork by Rev. William Barnes

[An Archaeologist speaks.]

The grassy downs of Dorset,
Rising o’er our homes of peace,
E’er teem with life and riches
In the sheep and precious fleece;
And charm the thoughtful roamer
When, like us, he climbs to scan
Their high-cast mounds of war – the works
Of Britain’s early man,
Whose speech, although here lingers yet
His mighty works of hand,
Has ceased a thousand years to sound
In air of this green land,
And startled may it be to hear
The words of British kin —

An gwaliow war an meneth,(1)
An caer war an bryn.(2)

Their breastworks now are fallen,
And their banks are sunken low;
The gateway yawns ungated,
And unsought by friend or foe.
No war-horn (3) calls for warriors,
And no clear-eyed watchmen spy
For tokens of the foe, around
The quarters of the sky.

No band, with shout and singing, (4)
Sally forth with spear and sword,
Staying foes at wood or hill,
Or at the waded river ford;
Or else to take the hill, and fight
To win, or die within

An gwaliow war an meneth.
An caer war an bryn.

There were lowings of the cattle
By the rattling spears and swords;
There were wails of weeping women
And grim warriors’ angry words —
“Be every Briton fearless, or
For ever live in fear;
And bring his ready weapons out —
His bow, and sword, and spear! (5)
For what have we to fight the foe?
Our children and our wives!
For whom have we to fight? For those
Far dearer than our lives!
And we, to shield them all, will die,
Or else the battle win,

Yn (6) an gwaliow war an meneth,
Yn an caer war an Bryn ! “

But now, in sweet, unbroken peace,
May Dorset land-folks sleep;
In peace may speed the gliding plough,
In peace may graze the sheep;
In peace may smoke our village tuns,
And all our children play;

And may we never need nigh banks
To keep the foe at bay!
And blest be lord or farmer
Of the land, who wins our thanks
By sparing from the spade and sull
These olden British banks,
And not destroying, for a crown
Or pound that he might win,

An gwaliow war an meneth,
An caer war an bryn.

Notes:

(1) – “The ramparts on the mountain.”

(2) -“The stronghold on the hill”  

This is In the old Cornoak or Cornish-British, that of our West of England.   The modem
Welsh would be —

“Y gwaliaie ar y mynydd,
Y au caer ar y bryn.”

Au pronounced ace; y like e in le, French ; ” mynydd,” munneethe.

(3) – Cadgorn.   The bugle-horn was used for hunting, war, and drinking.

(4) –  By the laws of Hoel Dda, when the Welsh marched to battle the bards were to go before them singing a national song, now lost, called “Unbenaeth Prydain” (“The Monarchy of Britain “). This, however, was later than the time of the upcasting of our earthworks.

(5) -A law triad gives, as law-bidden weapons which every man was to keep ready for battle, a sword, a spear, and a bow with twelve arrows.

(6) – In.

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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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Archaeology at Thomas Hardy’s Max Gate

The following article entitled ‘Some Romano-British Relics found at Max Gate, Dorchester’ by Thomas Hardy is from the ‘Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society’, volume 11 published 1890.

Thomas Hardy stands beside the 'Druid Stone'

Thomas Hardy stands beside the ‘Druid Stone’ in the garden of Max Gate in 1890. In 1987 excavations near to Max Gate revealed a Neolithic causewayed enclosure; the other half lies beneath the garden at Max Gate. © DCM

“I have been asked to give an account of a few relics of antiquity lately uncovered in digging the foundations of a house at Max Gate, in Fordington Field. But, as the subject of archaeology is one to a great extent foreign to my experience, my sole right to speak upon it at all, in the presence of the professed antiquarians around, lies in the fact that I am one of the only two persons who saw most of the remains in situ, just as they were laid bare, and before they were lifted up from their rest of, I suppose, fifteen hundred years. Such brief notes as I have made can be given in a few words. Leaving the town by the south-eastern or Wareham Road we come first, as I need hardly observe, to the site of the presumably great Romano-British cemetery upon Fordington Hill. Proceeding along this road to a further distance of half-a-mile, we reach the spot on which the relics lay. It is about fifty yards back from the roadside, and practically a level, bearing no immediate evidence that the natural contour of the surface has ever been disturbed more deeply than by the plough.

But though no barrow or other eminence rises there it should, perhaps, be remarked that about three hundred yards due east from the spot stands the fine and commanding tumulus called Conquer Barrow (the name of which, by the way, seems to be a corruption of some earlier word). On this comparatively level ground we discovered, about three feet below the surface, three human skeletons in separate and distinct graves. Each grave was, as nearly as possible, an ellipse in plan, about 4ft. long and 2½ ft. wide, cut vertically into the solid chalk. The remains bore marks of careful interment. In two of the graves, and, I believe, in the third, a body lay on its right side, the knees being drawn up to the chest, and the arms extended straight downwards, so that the hands rested against the ankles. Each body was fitted with, one may almost say, perfect accuracy into the oval hole, the crown of the head touching the maiden chalk at one end and the toes at the other, the tight-fitting situation being strongly suggestive of the-chicken in the egg shell. The closest examination failed to detect any enclosure for the remains, and the natural inference was that, save their possible cerements, they were deposited bare in the earth. On the head of one of these, between the top of the forehead and the crown, rested a fibula or clasp of bronze and iron, the front having apparently been gilt. This is, I believe, a somewhat unusual position for this kind of fastening, which seemed to have sustained a fillet for the hair.

In the second grave a similar one was found, but as it was taken away without my knowledge I am unable to give its exact position when unearthed. In the third grave nothing of the sort was discovered after a careful search.

In the first grave a bottle of white clay, nearly globular, with a handle, stood close to the breast of the skeleton, the interior being stained as if by some dark liquid.  The bottle, unfortunately, fell into fragments on attempting to remove it.  In the same cavity, touching the shin bones of the occupant,  were two urns of the material known as grey ware, and of a design commonly supposed  to be characteristic of Roman work of the third or fourth century. It is somewhat remarkable that beside them was half, and only a half, a third urn, with a filmy substance like black cobweb adhering to the inner surface.

In the second cavity were four urns, standing nearly upright like the others, two being of ordinary size, and two quite small. They stood touching each other, and close to the breast of the skeleton; these, like the former, were empty, except of the chalk which had settled into them by lapse of time; moreover, the unstained white chalk being in immediate contact with the inner surface of the vessels was nearly a proof that nothing solid had originally intervened. In the third grave two other urns of like description were disclosed.

Two yards south from these graves a circular hole in the native chalk was uncovered, measuring about two feet in diameter and five feet deep. At the bottom was a small flagstone; above this was the horn, apparently of a bull, together with teeth and bones of the same animal. The horn was stumpy and curved, altogether much after the modern shorthorn type, and it has been conjectured that the remains were possibly those of the wild ox formerly inhabiting this island. Pieces of a black bituminous substance were mixed in with these, and also numerous flints, forming a packing to the whole. A few pieces of tile, and brick of the thin Roman kind, with some fragments of iridescent glass were also found about the spot.

There was naturally no systematic orientation in the interments —the head in one case being westward, in the other eastward, and in the third, I believe, south-west. It should be mentioned that the surface soil has been cleared away to a distance extending 50ft. south and west from where these remains were disinterred ; but no further graves or cavities have been uncovered — the natural chalk lying level and compact — which seems to signify that the site was no portion of a regular Golgotha, but an isolated resting-place reserved to a family, set, or staff; such outlying tombs having been common along the roadsides near towns in those far-off days—a humble Colonial imitation, possibly, of the system of sepulture along the Appian Way.

In spite of the numerous vestiges that have been discovered from time to time of the Roman city which formerly stood on the site of modern Dorchester, and which are still being unearthed daily by our local Schliemann (Edward Cunnington) one is struck with the fact that little has been done towards piecing together and reconstructing these evidences into an unmutilated whole—such as has been done, for instance, with the evidences of Pompeian life — a whole which should represent Dorchester in particular and not merely the general character of a Roman station in this country — composing a true picture by which the uninformed could mentally realise the ancient scene with some completeness.

It would be a worthy attempt to rehabilitate, on paper, the living Durnovaria of fourteen or fifteen hundred years ago—as it actually appeared to the eyes of the then Dorchester men and women, under the rays of the same morning and evening sun which rises and sets over it now. Standing, for instance, on the elevated ground near where the South-Western Station is at present, or at the top of Slyer’s Lane, or at any other commanding point, we may ask what kind of object did Dorchester then form in the summer landscape as viewed from such a point; where stood the large buildings, were they small, how did the roofs group themselves, what were the gardens like, if any, what social character had the streets, what were the customary noises, what sort of exterior was exhibited by these hybrid Romano-British people, apart from the soldiery? Were the passengers up and down the ways few in number, or did they ever form a busy throng such as we now see on a market day? These are merely the curious questions of an outsider to initiated students of the period. When we consider the vagueness of our mental answers to such inquiries as the above, we perceive that much is still left of this fascinating investigation which may well occupy the attention of the Club in future days.”

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Roman Mosaics

The Dorset County Museum has twelve mosaics on display from the Roman period, mostly fragments. Many are from Durnovaria, Roman Dorchester. The study of these fragments and the many others found in the County identify some as the Durnovarian school of mosaicists who provided a rich variety of designs for pavements constructed throughout the Fourth Century A.D. These designs are noted for their use of sea beasts, gods, goddesses and other ornament. None are identical.

In the entrance doorway of the museum is a mosaic made up in 1908 with tesserae from the surround of a pavement found behind 45 South Street, Dorchester, during building operations in 1905. In the entrance passage is a fragment of the geometric mosaic found beneath the pavement showing the sea creature theasos, found at Dewlish.

Mosaic found in Dewlish in 1975

Mosaic found in Dewlish in 1975 © DCM

On the wall above the reception desk to the right is a fragment from a mosaic depicting a sea creature procession or theasos, found at Dewlish during the excavations of 1975.

To the right of the Durngate Street pavement and under the staircase to the gallery is a complete mosaic from a plunge bath excavated on the site of the Romano-British villa at Hemsworth. It was presented to the museum by the executors of Lord Aliington in 1905.

Mosaic pavement found in Durngate Street, Dorchester in 1905. The Durngate Street pavement is one of the few in Britain which bear a signature; in this case a 'fruit and leaf motif. © DCM

Mosaic pavement found in Durngate Street, Dorchester in 1905. The Durngate Street pavement is one of the few in Britain which bear a signature; in this case a ‘fruit and leaf motif. © DCM

Through the doorway into the museum’s Victorian Gallery is a pavement from Durngate Street, Dorchester, found and removed to the museum in July 1905 and laid to be walked upon as part of the building. A typical example of the Durnovarian School, the crested serpents and the leaves form an obvious link with that from Hinton St. Mary, at present in store in the British Museum.

By the side of the main staircase is a portion of a mosaic found near South Street, Dorchester in 1894. It was the first mosaic to be placed on display in the museum. It was presented by Mr. Alfred Pope in 1895.

Roman masterpieces in Dorset

This mosaic pavement discovered at Olga Road, Dorchester in 1899 © DCM

This mosaic pavement discovered at Olga Road, Dorchester in 1899 © DCM

The other mosaic in the museums’s  Victorian Gallery is from Olga Road, Dorchester, found in 1899 and presented to the Museum by Mr. Alfred Pope in 1900. It was taken up and re-laid by subscription. This design contrasts with that from Durngate Street and has similarities with mosaics at Corinium, Roman Cirencester.

To the left of the Olga Road pavement is the doorway into the museums’s Temporary Exhibition Gallery where the polychrome mosaic from Fordington High Street, Dorchester is displayed. This mosaic also has similarities with those in Corinium and possibly dates from the Second Century A.D. It was found in October 1927 and presented by Messrs. T. J. Walne and O. C. Vidler when it was taken up and relaid to walk upon as part of the building.

This decorative mosaic found in Fordington, High Street, 1927 . Shows what may be the image of the Roman god of the sea, Neptune surrounded by fish and dolphins © DCM

This decorative mosaic found in Fordington, High Street, Dorchester, 1927 . Shows what may be the image of the Roman god of the sea, Neptune surrounded by fish and dolphins © DCM

There is a repair made in antiquity to the three strand guilloche around one of the circles containing a stylised flower and there are the remains – six red tessarae – of a figure which once occupied the central octagon.

Upstairs from the Temporary Exhibition Gallery is the Archaeological Gallery: Victim of Time, where there are three further fragments of mosaic on display.

In the Roman section there is a fragment of guilloche and stylised flower border presented in 1899 by the Directors of the Devon & Cornwall Bank (now the National Westminster Bank), Dorchester. It was found when building operations were underway for the new Bank.

The, Dorchester Prison mosaic, 4th Century. A tinted photographic lithograph. John Pouncy, 2nd December 1858. Using one of his new experimental photographic processes. This mosaic was presented to the Dorset County Museum by the Governor of Dorchester Prison in 1885, after its removal from the Prison chapel where it had been relaid in 1858. It was set on the north wall of the museum staircase masked by the overhanging portrait of James John Farquharson, 1857.

The, Dorchester Prison Mosaic, 4th Century. A tinted photographic lithograph. John Pouncy, 2nd December 1858. Using one of his new experimental photographic processes. This mosaic was presented to the Dorset County Museum by the Governor of Dorchester Prison in 1885, after its removal from the Prison chapel where it had been relaid in 1858. It was set on the north wall of the museum staircase masked by the overhanging portrait of James John Farquharson, 1857. © DCM

Also in the Conservation section there is a mosaic roundel depicting Oceanus or Neptune, which once formed the centre of a pavement found during the excavation of the Romano-British villa at Hemsworth in 1831. The pavement was lifted in 1908 and presented by the executors of Lord Allington in 1929. The identifying features on the head of this sea god are crab legs and two crab claws on the forehead.

Half way up the main staircase and at the first landing – and temporarily covered by a large oil painting – is a geometric mosaic, found in the County Prison burial ground whilst digging a grave for James Seal who was executed for murder on August 10th 1858, when it was taken up and presented to the Museum.

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