Thursday, 31 October 2013

31 October 2013, Ulley Roman Project Day 14

It was another lovely autumn day today, the sun was shining bright and only a slight wind made for a good working day.

Over the road from us there are a couple of new additions in the shape of these piglets.

We also had another young 'un on site with us, Wayne's son, Noah. It was his first time on an archaeological site but he was soon helping with the geophysics.

With the field walking out of the way, we are now concentrating just on the geophysics, which does mean we only need a few people on site, and here was today's happy volunteers!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

30 October 2013, Ulley Roman Project Day 13

We were going to be back on site yesterday, but unfortunately we were caught up in a meeting and couldn't get to site until everyone had already left! So apologies to all who turned up! However, the weather made up for it today by presenting us with a glorious autumn start!

We began the day by laying out the tapes ready for the geophysical survey. 

By now, our volunteers are professionals at these jobs!

There's no stopping them and it didn't take long to get set up.

 Then the survey was under way and the grids being eating up at a fast rate!

Helen hadn't had a chance to have a go at using the array until today, so here she is being taught how to use it.

Another new-comer was Sophie, she's eight and owns her own trowel! So now we've had an 81 year old on site and an 8 year old! 

We also had another visitor in the form of this hedgehog, it's great to see the wildlife out and about!

Along with the geophysical survey, we managed to complete the field walking of the entire field. We will go over some of the areas again, but it is mostly done now. Here are today's cold but happy volunteers!

Friday, 25 October 2013

25 October 2013, Ulley Roman Project Day 12

Today started off miserable and this seemed to put a lot of people off as we only had five on site today. The rain did clear, however and we managed to get quite a lot of field walking done.

We cleared a lot of the grids in the bottom of the field, so then we headed up to the top near the gate where there was bags full of pottery! This is probably because the farmer has had manure sitting in this area or it is because it is the access path so has had a lot of traffic running through the area. Unfortunately we are still only finding that medieval pottery is the earliest artefacts on site.

Today's team who braved the rain!

We packed up early as there was so few of us, but the farmer is happy to allow us to continue working next week in order to recoup the days we've lost to rain. We still have the geophysical survey to finish off and some more field walking and so we will be taking it on a day-by-day basis, but check our Facebook page and Twitter feed for ongoing news about the work!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

24 October 2013, Ulley Roman Project Day 11

We had a brilliant day today, weather-wise! The sun shone, there was no wind and it seemed to attract the volunteers as we had over twenty people drop in on the site throughout the day.

However, Christine had to be off site due to a family issue, so we were unable to continue the geophysical survey today, but the amount of people on site meant that we could do loads of field walking!

Again, the finds are the usual mix of medieval and post-medieval with no Roman. But Brian did find this lovely flint flake during the surface collection.

Here are a few of today's visitors, we had a bunch from the Brinsworth History Society and others from the Rotherham Archaeological Society and the Dearne Valley Archaeology Group! This project is mixing the groups really well!

It certainly looks like we will be going into next week, just to finish the geophysical survey off at least, so stay tuned!!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

23 October 2013, Ulley Roman Project Day 10

The day started out wet and misty, but the wind soon blew the bad weather away and we actually saw the sun today!

The field walking continued, still the ground isn't revealing its secrets for us though! Lots more medieval and post-medieval pottery, but no Roman artefacts were found.

Maybe we were looking in the wrong place?

Although the pottery isn't really telling us about the existence of a Roman fort we are getting the occasional nice find, like this medieval piece of pottery with a thumb print in it, found by Vince.

However, the Geophysical survey is continuing apace, eight more grids were scanned today! Another good day!

And here is today's team photo, a good turn out despite the early rain!

Also today we had a visit from the Rotherham Advertiser's photographer, for a forthcoming feature in the paper! In keeping with the journalists, Alex was interviewed by BBC Radio Sheffield about the project. You can hear their podcast HERE. The interview starts after about twenty minutes.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

22 October 2013, Ulley Roman Project Day 9

Another rain day this morning meant that we wouldn't be able to do any further work until the ground dries out a bit. Fortunately it seems that most people got the news via the Elmet Facebook page, where we will post any information about working.

It now looks like we will definitely be working into next week, we have lost two and a half days to rain so far and we need to pick them up.

Also in other news, our good friend Dane has been taken ill, so we are wishing him a speedy recovery!

Keep checking back for other updates!

Monday, 21 October 2013

21 October 2013, Ulley Roman Project Day 8

Unfortunately, today we were faced with a downpour of rain. It was so heavy we had to abandon site before we'd even started!

The rain would make it impossible to get good readings from the resistivity meter and the field walking would just churn up the mud, so we made the hard decision to pack in for the day.

Here's hoping tomorrow is drier!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

20 October 2013, Ulley Roman Project Day 7

Day seven began well; with the sun out although a strong wind was blowing all day.  The weather has been very kind to us so far! We had about ten people on site on and off, with people dropping in throughout the day.

We also had Mike McCoy back with us, to help with the field walking. Again, there isn't much coming up that is older than medieval in the fields and some of this could have been brought in from elsewhere.It's slightly disappointing, but maybe the geophysical survey will wield more results!

Speaking of which, on the geophysical survey Rachel learned how to use the computer! It may seem a bit complicated but surveying is easily picked up!

Today we also had two generations of a family join us, here grandson and grandpa work together on the resistivity array.

And grandpa was then joined by granddaughter! Archaeology through the generations!

We were joined by others this afternoon, but here are this morning's helpers!

And further musings on Google Earth shows this possible route of the Roman road excavated in the 1950s. The projected line runs by the side of Penny Hill Lane (the road leaving Ulley on the east of the village) and joins up with Brampton Lane further to the east. Remember, despite the myth not all Roman roads were dead straight and would have followed contours and other natural features as well. Maybe we can see the line of the old Roman road here?

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

19 October 2013, Ulley Roman Project Day 6

We were expecting more rough weather this morning but were pleasantly surprised when we arrived on site. The threatened rain stayed away and this was the view which met us first thing.

Alex is away this weekend celebrating the nuptials of our friend Lauren and her fiancée Steve in York. Our Alex replacement is Mike, who was keen to get underway - following a site introduction from Chris for him and the new volunteers.

 The weekend team is a little smaller than expected but were very hard working all the same. We continued to work within the grid we established on Monday, with people choosing to field walk first then moving to geophysics in the afternoon or vice versa. 

Our morning geophysics team included this young lady and her dad - although she's young she's certainly very interested and helped with everything. Here she is with the RM 15 resistivity meter and handling it like an experienced archaeologist.

Our field walking stalwarts were joined by two local detectorists, who had asked to work with us today. We also had a few local visitors who were just interested in what we had discovered and the history of the site.

There was much talk among the team about the site itself and the location of the roads entering and leaving, with people eager to come back and continue the work. Another good day and the rain stayed away!

Friday, 18 October 2013

18 October 2013, Ulley Roman Project Day 5

The day started off cloudy and grey and although the rain threatened, we never got any adverse weather at all! In fact it was a nice day to work in today.

The activities got under way and we had a good turn out of helpers today, with more people coming and going all day. The geophysics team really went for it and broke the site record of eight grids surveyed in a day! Elmet will soon be out of a job!

As part of the project, we intend to involve the local community as much as possible and this is demonstrated by Brian, 81 years young and still doing archaeology!

Meanwhile, the field walking continued and we managed to finish off quite a few squares today.

However, the finds have been pretty disappointing, we have no definite Roman artefacts, just a handful of medieval pottery and lots of post-medieval and modern pottery. Having said that, absence of evidence does not necessarily mean evidence of absence... and we are still keeping our fingers crossed that the survey will produce good results!

Today's team photo!

And finally, whilst idly browsing Google Earth with the plan drawing of the fort overlaid it became quite apparent that there was an interesting coincidence with the roads in the immediate area of the field. Taking Philip Smedley's drawing as a starting point and tracing the line of the road excavated in the 1950s, it can be seen that the projection (dotted red line) runs across the centre of the field and joins Ulley Lane to the west of the field, just at the kink in the modern road. Further to this, that little section of road lines up neatly with the road heading to Aughton Crossroads. The modern road kinks past a modern farm in this place, which wouldn't have been there in Roman times. Maybe this the line of the original Roman road?

An interesting theory, that may be proved by the survey in the field showing the road running through the centre of the farm land. Keep checking back for daily updates!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

17 October 2013, Ulley Roman Project Day 4

We were faced with a completely different day this morning compared to yesterday's downpour. The sun shone and the views from site were amazing! From the field you can see almost into Derbyshire and all the way out over Sheffield. If there is a Roman fort here then they certainly picked the position well!

The field-walking continued towards the bottom of the field, but unfortunately the finds were getting sparser as we moved further away from the modern buildings. However, there was still artefacts in the field.

This is the view of the field from the south, looking north. The telegraph pole lies almost on the position of the ditch Philip Smedley had drawn on his original plan and it runs from just in front of the house on the left across the centre of this picture. Hopefully, the geophysics will pick this up.

Speaking of which, the good weather allowed for many more grids to be surveyed, the team really had got the hang of the machine now!

The good weather also brought a good turn out of helpers, we had people dropping in all day and some left early, but here are some of today's hard workers:

And here are our neighbours! These happy pigs live just over the road from the site and they seemed to enjoy the results of yesterday's rain!

Furthermore today, John brought some photographs with him of the original excavations at Ulley from the 50s, which Philip was involved with. On his plan there is a road marked and here it is under excavation:

They were working just over the stone wall that bounds the field, and this is the same view today. You can see that the two houses in the distance match, although one has been pulled down and replaced since the time that the excavation was undertaken.

In this picture the view is the opposite way, towards the west and the heavy foliage that is a feature of the modern boundary of Ulley Hall Farm didn't exist in the 1950s and the land was quite open.

The road that was excavated then featured these heavy curb stones and these may be picked up in the survey, we hope!

We will have better scans of these pictures in the future, along with some others, but they give us a good indication of what may be underground in the field.

And finally, a gentleman who worked with Philip Smedley in the 1950s visited us and was full of stories of the transformation of Ulley, including the interesting fact that one of Churchill's secretaries actually lived in the village! Another amazing day with some more great information about the site and surroundings!