IGNITE! Christmas Geology Event at Museum

Ignite Christmas Geology Event at Dorset County MuseumOn Wednesday 9th December, the Museum is hosting ‘Ignite’, an evening of short geology talks by local geologists. Come and join us and enjoy a free glass of warm mulled wine or mulled apple juice and a secret recipe mince pie!

The talks will be:

  • Doreen Smith, ‘Geology of a Railway’
  • John Whicher, ‘New Insights on Sherborne Building Stone’
  • Dr. Trelevan Haysom, ‘Trev’s Shed’ – a tale of curiosities and a chance to guess the identity of some unusual objects from a Purbeck quarry.

This is a lovely opportunity to have a chat and refreshments with the speakers, and newcomers will be more than welcome. The talk starts at 7.00pm (doors open at 6.30pm) and is FREE of charge, although a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs.

For further information and other forthcoming events contact the Museum on on 01305 756827 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter

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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

Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Vol 135 – 2014

Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Volume 135 - 2014The Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Vol 135 – 2014 is out now and available at the Dorset County Museum shop for £15.00. For more enquiries Tel: 01305 262735 or email enquiries@dorsetcountymuseum.org

One of the articles featured in the Proceedings and which is of particular interest this time of year is the folk custom of Mumming Plays.

Mumming plays, like several other winter customs, have enjoyed a huge revival in modern times, largely due to the enthusiasm of morris sides. This paper written by Jerry Bird titled  ‘Mumming Plays in Hardy’s Wessex’, delves into the mysterious origins of the Christmas mumming play, before examining its extent and importance in the County of Dorset.

The Mummers, as remembered by Thomas Hardy for the Mummers' play in the 'Return of the Native' performed in Dorchester in 1920 by The Hardy players

The Mummers, as remembered by Thomas Hardy for the Mummers’ play in the ‘Return of the Native’ performed in Dorchester in 1920 by The Hardy players © DCM

Thomas Hardy famously used a mumming play as a dramatic device in his novel Return of the Native, and seems to have had an abiding interest in folk-drama generally; his last published work which was not poetry was The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall, billed as a ‘play for mummers’. He came from a long line of folk-musicians and his cousins performed in the Puddletown play. Despite this, the play he used in his novel appears not to have a local origin, though his description of the players was accurate, and he later borrowed a genuine Dorset script to write a new version for a stage production of ‘Return of the Native’ in the 1920s, thus inadvertently becoming an early revivalist.

Jerry Bird has collected together numerous references to mumming plays in Dorset, and the paper is well illustrated with photographs from the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library and elsewhere. The incident in which the Fordington mummers did battle with the Bockhampton band in Dorchester in 1845 is covered, with contemporary newspaper accounts reproduced here in full for the first time.The author explores the social and economic background to this event in the context of the upheavals of the time amongst the rural workforce, which included rick-burnings and the’Swing riots’ as well as the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ trial.

The well-known folklorist John Symonds Udal, author of Dorsetshire Folk-lore was an early collector of mumming plays, and fortunately the author was able to have access to his original play scripts and notes. There seems to have been a distinctive character to West Dorset plays in particular, which incorporated other traditions such as the ‘hobby horse’ and the Dorset Ooser.

The Appendix includes the scripts of ten Dorset plays, including Hardy’s own version. These are well annotated with extensive notes, and illustrations, including some musical notation and a photograph of one of Udal’s original scripts.

Other Papers in the Proceedings include:

  • Mabel St Clair Stobart 1862-1954: The Lady of the Black Horse, Peter Down, 1-19
  • ‘Primitive Betrothal’: The Portland Custom and Thomas Hardy’s The Well-Beloved, Jacqueline Dillion, 20-32
  • Sir Claude Scott and the development of Lytchett Minster in the nineteenth century, June Palmer, 33-45
  • How the Newburghs of Lulworth came to own Sutton Poyntz, William Egerton, 46-55
  • The Poets’ Christmas Eve: mythology into verse, Alan Chedzoy, 56-61
  • An account of Mary Anning (1799-1847), fossil collector of Lyme Regis, Dorset, England, published by Henry Rowland Brown (1837-1921) in the second edition (1859) of Beauties of Lyme Regis, Michael A. Taylor and Hugh S. Torrens, 62-70
  • An anonymous account of Mary Anning (1799-1847), fossil collector of Lyme Regis, Dorset, England, published in All the year round in 1865, and its attribution to Henry Stuart Fagan (1827-1890), schoolmaster, parson and author, Michael A. Taylor and Hugh S. Torrens, 71-85
  • Mumming Plays in Hardy’s Wessex, Jerry Bird, 86-148
  • The Cyril Diver Project, John Newbould and David Brown, 149-159
  • The Steve Etches collection of Kimmeridge Clay fossils: a Jurassic jewel on the Jurassic Coast, David M. Martill, 160-164
  • Severe drought and exceptional summer flooding: consequences for the South Winterborne macroinvertebrates, J. A. B. Bass, Patrick D. Armitage and J. L. Pretty, 165-166
  • Coastal landslide mapping of the Black Ven Spittles complex, Charmouth, Chloe Morris and Servel Miller, 167-180
  • New insect fossils from the Lower Lias (Lower Jurassic) of West Dorset, Robert A. Coram, 181-188
  • The gastropod and ammonite fauna of two anomalous facies in the Inferior Oolite of Burton Cliff, South Dorset, John Whicher, David Sole and Robert Chandler, 189-197

Archaeology

  • Hengistbury Head, Bournemouth, Mike Trevarthen, 198
  • Wood Hill, Charlton Down, Charminster, Richard Tabor and Cheryl Green, 198
  • 2 Wick Lane, Christchurch, Mike Trevarthen, 198
  • HMP Dorchester, Dorchester, Tom Weavill, 198
  • Max Gate, Dorchester, Mike Trevarthen, 198-199
  • Wall behind Wadham House, 50 High West Street, Dorchester, Richard Tabor and Cheryl Green, 199
  • New sea wall, Kimmeridge Bay, Kimmeridge, Mike Trevarthen, 199
  • Keates Quarry, Home Field, Acton, Langton Matravers, Mike Trevarthen, 199
  • Lewis Quarry, Home Field, Acton, Langton Matravers, Peter Bellamy, 199
  • Bottle Knap Cottage, Long Bredy, Mike Trevarthen, 199
  • Geophysical survey of the South Lawn, Kingston Lacy Park, Pamphill, Martin Papworth, 199-200
  • Limekilns at Inmosthay Industrial Estate, Inmosthay, Portland, Richard Tabor and Cheryl Green, 200
  • Land to the west of Reap Lane, Southwell, Portland, Richard Tabor and Cheryl Green, 200-201
  • Sherborne House, Newland, Sherborne, Richard Tabor and Cheryl Green, 201
  • Belle Vue Farm, Herston, Swanage, Lilian Ladle, 201
  • Geophysical survey of Long Mound, Beacon Knap, Swyre, Martin Papworth, 201-202
  • Chapelhay Gardens, Weymouth, Peter Bellamy, 202
  • Land to the south of Chickerell Road, Wyke Regis, Weymouth, Richard Tabor and Cheryl Green, 202
  • South Dorset Ridgeway: Purlands Farm (Winterborne St Martin) to north of Tatton House (Portesham), Richard Tabor and Cheryl Green, 202-203
  • Cross Farm, Church Street, Yetminster, Richard Tabor and Cheryl Green, 203
  • Dewlish Roman villa: post-excavation report 2013, Iain Hewitt, 203-204
  • The Langton Herring mirror and grave goods, Jon Murden, 205-208
  • The Roman villa at Druce Farm, near Puddletown, Lilian Ladle, 209-211
  • Ower Quay, Keith Jarvis, 212-216
  • The Durotriges Project, phase one: an interim statement, Miles Russell, Paul Cheetham, Damian Evans, Ellen Hambleton, Iain Hewitt, Harry Manley and Martin Smith, 217-221
  • Roman Purbeck Limestone mortars, John Palmer, 222-234
  • Portable Antiquities Scheme 2013, Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen, 235-236
  • Excavation of c. eighteenth-century wall footings at Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock, Martin Papworth, 237-240
  • Roman remains found at Hyde Farm, Shapwick, Kingston Lacy Estate, Martin Papworth, 241
  • The Romano-Celtic temple at Badbury Rings, Dorset, Martin Papworth, 242-271
  • Investigations on the south shore of Brownsea Island by the Dorset Alum and Copperas Industries Project, Peter S. Bellamy, Gill Broadbent, Mark Corney and Clare Wilson, 272-283
  • Investigations at Kimmeridge Bay by the Dorset Alum and Copperas Industries Project, Peter S. Bellamy, Gill Broadbent, Mark Corney, Alan Hawkins, Mike Trevarthen and Clare Wilson, 284-296
  • Investigations on the Studland Circles by the Dorset Alum and Copperas Industries Project, Peter S. Bellamy, Gill Broadbent, Mark Corney and Clare Wilson, 297-310

County Boundary Survey

  • Hampreston: A parish in the counties of Dorset and Hampshire, J. W. Hart, 311-315
  • Boundaries of Dorset, J. W. Hart, 316-319
  • The Dorset County Boundary Survey 2013, Katherine Barker, 320-324
  • The Dorset County boundary at Biddlesgate, between the parishes of Cranborne (Dorset) and Damerham (Hampshire from 1885; formerly Wiltshire), Katherine Barker, 325-333

Reviews

  • A. Eccles, Vagrancy in law and practice under the Old Poor Law, Martin Ayres, 334-335
  • Michael Millgate and Keith Wilson (eds), The collected letters of Thomas Hardy, volume VIII: further letters, Will Abberley, 335-336
  • Michael Hill, East Dorset country houses, Helen Brown, 336-337

Obituary

  • Liz-Anne Bawden MBE (1931-2012), Max Hebditch, 338-339

Natural history reports 2013

  • General weather survey, John Oliver, 340-341
  • Dorset rainfall, John Oliver, 341-345
  • Butterfly survey, Bill Shreeves, 345-349
  • Frome Valley winter bird survey, John Newbould and John Campbell, 350-351
  • Some Dorset plant gall record highlights, John Newbould, 351-352
  • Field meeting reports, John Newbould, 352-355
  • County Boundary Survey visits, Katherine Barker and John Newbould, 355-357

Local auction report 2013, Gwen Yarker, 358-359

Report of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society for 2013, 360-372

Index, 373-376

Notes for contributors, 377-378

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IGNITE! Christmas Geology Event at Museum

Fossil FishA lively Geology group meets monthly at Dorset County Museum throughout the year. In December the meeting will take the form of four quick-fire lectures from well-known local geologists accompanied by a range of seasonal refreshments.

Anyone interested in joining the group is welcome to the Christmas event, Ignite! which takes place at 6.30pm on Wednesday 10th December in the Museum’s Victorian Hall.

Speakers on the night include Richard Edmonds, Jurassic Coast Earth Science Manager, Alan Holiday, Doreen Smith and Purbeck stone expert Dr Treleven Haysom. The talks will cover topics from recent storm damage on the Jurassic Coast to the contents of Trev’s Shed.

Free mulled wine or hot apple juice will be provided together with mince pies made from a top-secret recipe. Everyone is welcome – this is a fantastic opportunity to find out more about the group in a welcoming and informal setting.

The event is FREE of charge but a donation of £3.00 is encouraged to cover costs. For further information please see www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or telephone 01305 262735.

IGNITE! Christmas Geology Event at Dorset County Museum

Geology Display at Dorset County MuseumDorset County Museum has a thriving Geology group meeting once a month for a varied programme of lectures and events. Anyone interested in joining the group is welcome to the Christmas event, Ignite!, which will take the form of four quick-fire lectures from well-known local geologists accompanied by seasonal food and drink.

Speakers on the night include Richard Edmonds, Sam Scriven, Doreen Smith and Giles Watts; the talks will cover topics from Fantastic Fossils to Shale Gas Extraction.

The talks start at 7.00pm on Wednesday 11th December, but doors are open from 6.30pm to allow time for mulled wine and mince pies. Everyone is welcome – this is a fantastic opportunity to find out more about the group in a welcoming and informal setting.

The event is FREE of charge but a donation of £3 is encouraged to cover costs. For further information please see www.dorsetcountymuseum.org or telephone 01305 262735.

Monster fossils from Dorset and Wiltshire declared as new species

Weymouth  Bay Pliosaur Skull © DCM

Weymouth Bay Pliosaur Skull © DCM

An enormous skull from a giant marine reptile recovered from the Dorset coast near Weymouth, has been declared as a species new to science and named in honour of its finder Kevan Sheehan. The new name, Pliosaurus kevani, is published in the on-line journal PLOS ONE this week.

Mr Sheehan said; ‘This is a great day for Kevans around the world!’

Pliosaurus was a giant oceanic predator with a skull 2 metres long and body perhaps 12 metres in length. It was in fact the most powerful, scariest marine monster of all time, capable of biting the biggest great white shark alive today, clean in half (although they never existed at the same time). Despite their giant size, the oldest Pliosaurus species had many teeth, suggesting a diet of fish but over time they developed fewer, stronger teeth suggesting they evolved to hunt large prey such as big fish and other marine reptiles; plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs. Indeed, there are spectacular examples of bones, particularly limbs with massive bite marks; just like many of today’s predators, pliosaurs probably disabled their prey and allowed them to weaken through blood loss before going in for the kill.

Richard Edmonds and Kevan Sheehan with the Pliosaur skull © DCM

Richard Edmonds and Kevan Sheehan with the Pliosaur skull © DCM

The Dorset specimen, known as the and ‘the World’s Biggest Bite’, is one of the most complete and best preserved skulls ever found and as a result it has provided new insights into our understanding of how these enormous animals evolved. Giant pliosaurs were first found in the UK in the early 1800s, but most fossils were fragmentary, so their species diversity has been uncertain. The scientific paper has taken a new look at both the Dorset specimen and two other skulls discovered near Westbury over the last 30 years (the Westbury pliosaurs are on display at Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery). That study has led to a revision of the group and the naming of both those specimens as new species as well; Pliosaurus carpenteri after the collector, Simon Carpenter and Pliosaurus westburyensis.

One of the most significant conclusions from the paper is that the genus Pliosaurus appears to have developed a highly effective body plan that remained little changed for millions of years in the Late Jurassic sea. During that time just a handful of species evolved and this is unlike most top predators in the fossil record which reach dominance but were then typically swiftly replaced by different forms. The research has been undertaken by a team of vertebrate palaeontologists from Oxford, Bristol and Cambridge universities and with Leicester, Nottingham and the Sedgwick (Cambridge) museums together with independent researchers.

Mark Evans, Curator of Natural Sciences at Leicester Museum said:

“We have so few diagnostic specimens and the extraordinary thing is that whenever a specimen is diagnostic, it often turns out to be something new. We’ve effectively doubled the number of British Pliosaurus species in the paper.”

PliosaurPliosaurus dominated the seas around 150 million years ago in the Late Jurassic and similar forms appeared again in the Cretaceous. They have been found in northern Norway on the island of Svalbard (the famous Predator X of television fame), Canada, Mexico, Colombia and Australia. Despite the huge size of pliosaurs, identifiable specimens are rare in the fossil record; there is about 1 million years between the Weymouth Bay and Westbury specimens, more than 100,000 generations, yet they are only known from three described specimens. That is because most animals do not become fossilised while, as a top predator, there are far fewer individuals than their prey source. This is the nature of the science; trying to untangle the history of life from just a handful of specimens, but that also makes it exciting as new finds, providing new insights, will always come to light so long as collectors are out there rescuing the fossils when they become exposed.

Sir David Attenborough with the Pliosaur skull © DCM

Sir David Attenborough with the Pliosaur skull – 8th July 2011 © DCM

Further studies are ongoing with Pliosaurus kevani. All the bones have been through an industrial CT scanner at the University of Southampton, Faculty of Engineering (the muVIS X-ray Imaging Centre) and the data is being analysed by students from Bristol University where they are particularly focused on the biomechanics of the skull, including the biting force of the jaws. Analysis of the scans has also resolved detailed internal structures such as blood and sensory canals and this work should be published in the near future.

The skull of Pliosaurus kevani is on permanent display at the Dorset County Museum thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Collecting Cultures’ program with match funding from Dorset and Devon County Councils.

For further information contact the Museum on 01305 262735 or check the website on www.dorsetcountymuseum.org

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