After a major effort on the part
of the contributors, led by Heather Hurley as
editor, the book is now in the shops, available as
both paperback and hardback.
A surprising local news story is
the elevation of Peter Mandelson to the Lords as
Baron Mandelson of Foy and Hartlepool. The new Lord
Mandelson of Foy took his seat in the Lords on
Monday 13th October.
he was of course MP for Hartlepool between 1992 and 2004.
What was not so well-known was that he
had happy memories of childhood holidays at Foy.
A new project development is the
compilation of an on-line database of local pottery.
This Awards for All funded part of the project is
being led by
Dr Rebecca Roseff and will have images
of all the types of pottery found during the
project, as well as types that are likely to be
found by people in the area in the future. One type
of pottery, found during the Gillow excavation, is
new to archaeologists. This appears to be a
locally-made fabric of a type that was made in the
Iron Age and was still being made in the early Roman
period. Much of the pottery info is now available on the
Alan Jacobs is just putting some
final touches to his analysis of all the pottery that was found
during the project's fieldwork, both by
field-walking and excavation. The results of the fieldwalking by the volunteers is interesting.
There appears to
be very little pottery from the later Romano-British period -
the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. It seems extremely
unlikely that the area was uninhabited at the time,
so people must have almost stopped using pottery. We have
always known that the Welsh Marches have no pottery
during the early medieval period, the 5th to 11th
centuries. Although pottery continued in use at high
status sites in the area - the towns at Magnis and Ariconium and the 'villa' site at Huntsham - it
seems that pottery went out of use among rural
communities in the area much earlier than we had
The results of
animal bone study for the Gillow Farm excavation, from Ian Baxter, our bone specialist,
is also very interesting.
Bone doesn't usually survive for
very long in the soil of south Herefordshire. No
animal bone was found in the ditch around the
Romano-British enclosure at Gillow. The only piece
of bone recovered from the fill of the deep circular
ditch ditch around the smaller enclosure was C14 dated
to AD 1020 to 1210.
The area within this medieval
ditch had at some time been covered with a scatter
of broken pottery and fragments of bone. The bone
seems to have been protected from the acidity of the
soil by a layer of clay and stone which had been
deliberately laid on top.
Judging by the pottery, the
scatter of bone dates to the beginning of the 13th
century and is mostly from food animals. There were
bones of cattle, pig, chicken and sheep (or less
likely, goat - it is notoriously difficult to tell
these two apart). All of these are domestic animals
but a bone from a goose might have come from a
domestic or a wild bird.
Certainly wild were the hares
whose bones were found, but there was no evidence of
deer or wildfowl, which might have indicated a high
status site. There was a horse bone and bones from
wild but non-edible birds; jackdaw, rook or crow,
buzzard or red kite. There were no bones from birds
which were used for hunting, again this would have
suggested a high status site.
Although there were hares, there
were no rabbits. Rabbits are not a native species
and had been introduced to England only recently.
There were probably none at all in Herefordshire at
the time - the earliest local rabbits, 100 of them,
were given to the Bishop of Hereford to set up a
warren at Sugwas in 1243.
There were only small fragments
of bone and teeth among this bone, suggesting that
the rest of the bones had been removed somehow -
perhaps by servants, or dogs. None of the bone
showed signs of dog teeth-marks but one piece of pig
skull had been gnawed by rats - probable where it
lay and where we found it 800 years later.