Posts Tagged ‘archaeology’

Wessex Archaeology at Work

September 13, 2015

Back in 1990 a Saxon burial site was discovered on the Grove Farm estate.

Wessex Archaeology set to work on the Grove Farm site

Wessex Archaeology set to work on the Grove Farm site

Building work was temporarily halted so that Wessex Archaeology could investigate.


The dig uncovered people who lived in the area more than 1000 years ago.


Of course, the archaeologists worked very carefully and methodically.

Archaeologists at work at Grove Farm in 1990

Archaeologists at work at Grove Farm in 1990

Other finds could tell the experts much about the way of life led by our ancestors.

Hundreds of other finds

Hundreds of other finds

Very little of this material is at Market Lavington Museum. We are not a designated archaeology centre. But we do have many photographs and the Wessex Archaeology report.


Doing the dig

June 1, 2015

Today we are looking back just 25 years, but also 1000 or more years. But let’s start with the summer of 1990. The first new houses have been built on the Grove Farm estate. An early resident, with a knowledge of archaeology realised he was finding Saxon items in the garden. Building work was temporarily halted and Wessex Archaeology were called in to carry out a full investigation. And here we see one of their team working on what is clearly a very hot day. A skeleton has been uncovered on what is now thought to be a rather high status Saxon burial ground.

Archaeological dig at Grove Farm, Market Lavington - 1990/91

Archaeological dig at Grove Farm, Market Lavington – 1990/91

This archaeological dig transformed our knowledge of the old history of our area. Let’s quote from .

Large quantities of Romano-British coins and other artefacts have been found in excavations to the north of the church, and although the occupation site was not excavated the indications are that it was of relatively high status, with quantities of high quality pottery remains found. Finds date from the third and fourth centuries and the indications are that the building was 4th century. It would be reasonable to suppose that this was the centre of a farming estate, similar to the one recently found at Bradford on Avon.

If this was the case then the estate was taken over by the Saxons as excavations in 1991 uncovered an Anglo-Saxon estate of the 5th century that was situated on the then western boundary of Saxon territory in this county. The economy seems to have been based on large flocks of sheep kept for their wool, but there is also much evidence of cattle kept for meat. The estate dates from the early occupation of the 5th century and there is a Pagan Saxon cemetery with burials from the 5th to the 7th centuries. A total of 42 graves were excavated but the indications are that there were more and other, probably later, cemeteries. Large amounts of pottery shards were recovered, indicating occupation in the early, middle and late Saxon periods. From evidence of the grave goods, and the fact that horses were kept, we know that this was a prosperous community of reasonably high social status. Bone finds indicate that cattle, goats, pigs, fowls and geese were all kept for food, while wild deer were hunted. Saxon settlement was on the brow of the greensand ridge and seems to have moved along it at different times. The areas of the churchyard and the garden of the Old House are settlement sites. There could well have been a wooden Saxon church on the site of the present one and it is also likely that there was a Roman building in this prominent position

Along with other evidence it was realised that the area we now call Market Lavington had been continuously settled by people for thousands of years. Our oldest existing buildings, the Church and the Old House are really quite modern in the overall history.

Most of the artefacts from the dig are kept at Devizes Museum which is the archaeology centre for our area. We think (and so do our visitors) that Market Lavington Museum is fantastic but some of these archaeological remnants need care and conservation by professional experts. We do have a cabinet containing finds but when it comes to human remains we have photographs.

Why not pay us a visit to see just what a superb collection we have from millions of years ago to the modern day.

Tha Girt Harchaeology

May 3, 2014

My title today is the title of a Wiltshire dialect poem by Edward Slow who was born in 1842. He was, we believe, referring to the large number of visitors who came to see the archaeology of Wiltshire.

Market Lavington would not have been on the archaeology trail back then. Locals always knew that ancient items were found from time to time, but the proof didn’t come until about 1990 when work on the new Grove Farm estate was progressing. In fact, discoveries made brought work to a halt so that ‘tha girt harchaeology’ could descend on the village and excavate Roman and Saxon sites.

Here we have a photo of the archaeologists at work.

Archaeological dig in progress in Market Lavington - Serptember 1990

Archaeological dig in progress in Market Lavington – Serptember 1990

From the shapes dug, I think we can say that graves were being excavated. This dig was going on in September 1990 and items from 2000 or so years earlier were being unearthed.

This skeleton is not that old, dating to the Saxon era, little more than 1000 years ago.

A Saxon skeleton, as found

A Saxon skeleton, as found

We have a few bits and pieces from the dig in our museum, but we are not an archaeology centre so most items have been stored elsewhere.

Opening a barrow at Freith Farm

November 23, 2013

Back in 1924 a barrow was excavated at Freith farm. This farm is right in the north of the parish of Market Lavington. Most people won’t realise that this farm in the V between the Worton and Potterne roads is, in fact, in Market Lavington.

The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society reported on the excavation in their December 1926 magazine.

WANHS Magazine for December 1926

WANHS Magazine for December 1926

And now the article.

image004 image006 image007

The magazine contains a photo of the urn found.

Funeral urn found at Freith Farm, Market Lavington in 1924

Funeral urn found at Freith Farm, Market Lavington in 1924

We are not a primary archaeology museum at Market Lavington and, of course, we only opened our doors in 1985, so do not expect to find items like this urn with us.

By the way, we do note that the magazine refers to Freeth Farm and the farmer, Mr Seymour. He was the last commercial cheese maker in the parish and we have some of his equipment in the museum.

Part of a casting mould?

April 28, 2013

Today we are looking at a much older item than usual. Mostly, we don’t have what counts as ‘archaeology’ in Market Lavington Museum, but we do have a display cabinet devoted to finds on the Grove Farm estate – where Saxon and Roman settlements were uncovered and we do have other items found locally as one off items. That’s what we are looking at today.

This is a piece of shaped stone – clearly shaped to serve a purpose. It’s about 3’5 centimetres in diameter and 2 centimetres deep.

Part of a lead casting mould found at Northbrook, Market Lavington

Part of a lead casting mould found at Northbrook, Market Lavington

This has clearly been deliberately shaped. Probably there was a second half which more or less matched, but without the hole through. The experts think this is a small crucible or a mould for casting something in lead. Lead shot has been suggested but we are not convinced due to the depression not being hemispherical. In fact, we are not sure how that depression can have filled, if molten lead was poured in at the top.

The top of this piece looks like this.

The recess used when pouring molten lead

The recess used when pouring molten lead

Here we can see a recess into which molten lead could be poured so that it could pass through the hole and into the mould.

This item came from a garden in Northbrook and is believed to be from the late medieval period.

Of course, we’d appreciate any further information.

Copying Slides

February 24, 2012

Back in the 1960s and through to the 90s many photographers took colour slides. This, of course, was before the age of digital photography and people will recall darkening the room and setting up the projector and screen to have a slide show. It is interesting that we seem to have come full circle in this digital age. Slide shows are, in effect, what many of us do now, using web sites such as flickr.

But those slides from 40 years ago have been put away in cupboards and there they languish and, quite probably deteriorate.

At Market Lavington Museum we have acquired a slide copier. It came from the wonderful freecycle website, so cost us nothing. It isn’t of the highest quality, but it allows us to copy slides into a digital format and so either print the image or project it the digital way.

Local villager, Ray, loaned us his slides taken in the village between 1974 and 1995, and these have been copied and can now appear here and in the museum. The images include sports days from St Barnabas School in the mid 1970s, plus some charity sponsored events at the school. There are pictures of cubs and brownies in the mid to late 1970s. There are some wonderful photos Ray took from the church tower in 1977. There are village fetes, galas and celebrations. We have pictures of Trinity Church Nativity play in 1978 and of St Mary’s Church Choir in 1979. There are pictures of the Southcliffe area in all weathers. There’s local flora and fauna – in fact just the kinds of thing a keen photographer and local resident would take. Here are a couple of examples.

Archaeological dig at Grove Farm, Market Lavington in 1990

There are several pictures of work and finds on the Grove Farm archaeological excavation in 1990.

Morris Dancing in the Market Place, 1978. Can you spot Rog who is now Market Lavington Museum curator?

Morris Dancing in the Market Place. Our present curator is in that photo (audience) holding his tiny young son. Ray says this was in 1978.

If you have slides hiding up in a cupboard, now would be a good time to sort through them and let us, at the museum, copy them. They help to build a picture of life in the village in a time period which could, otherwise, get lost.

Thanks to Ray for his photos – a great addition to the museum’s record of Market Lavington.

New Forest Red Slipped Ware

September 11, 2011

Market Lavington has had continuous habitation for at least 2000 years. Roman remains have been known about for years and large quantities were found in about 1990 when the Grove Farm estate was under construction. Most of the finds are not held by us but are in the museum at Devizes. However, we do have some pieces.

New Forest slip ware at Market Lavington Museum

New Forst slip (or slipped) ware from the Grove Farm site at Market Lavington

These two shards are from pots known (by us) as New Forest red slipped ware. Information here comes from – the on-line potsherd atlas.

New Forest slipped wares

A wide range of fine table wares produced in the New Forest (Hants/GB) and distributed across southern Britain during the 3rd and 4th centuries AD.

Fabric and Technology

A range of dark- or red-slipped wares.

Hard, fine fabric which may be highly fired, up to a ‘stone ware’ quality; reduced grey or dark grey core with surface varying from pale yellow-red, through reddish brown to dark red or purple (often on same vessel), with high metallic sheen.

Similar to above, but oxidized; reddish yellow or reddish brown slip.

Hard, slightly sandy fabric with granular texture; reddish-yellow core with reddish-brown slip.

All wheel-thrown. Wide range of decorative techniques, including barbotine scales or leaves, white painted, incised, impressed and rouletted.


Beakers, flasks, jugs and flagons and bowls. Many of the red-slipped bowl types follow late sigillata prototypes, but most widely distributed types are beakers, flasks and jugs.

The Wessex Archaeology web site  shows much more complete items of New Forest slipped ware items, including this one which was found not that far from Market Lavington (at Boscombe Down)  in about 2002.

Much more complete pot from Boscombe Down - photo by Wessex Archaeology

Wessex Archaeology maintain rights to this photograph