Project Info


The River Wye



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 pages of Archenfield Archaeology Ltd

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 previously thought.

The results of the 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.

Pig frontal bone showing eye orbit with signs of having been gnawed by rats

Our series of workshops at Ross-on-Wye and Hereford came to an end with Judy Stevenson's on 'small finds' at Hereford Museum Resource Centre on Saturday 6th June.

Alan Jacobs conducted a pottery seminar in Ross-on-Wye Heritage Centre on April 12th.

Alan's seminar was  one of a series which began with Roger Pye's flint seminar on January 26th and continued with Derek Hurst's on medieval pottery on March 8th. Others included Elizabeth Pearson's on 'ecofacts' at  Ross on April 5th and Hereford and Hereford on April 19th. Karl Lee's prehistoric flint tool workshop was at Hereford on March 29th.

The other C14 date we obtained was AD 230 to 410 for a piece of hazel charcoal from a thick layer within the medieval site. This layer contained a lot of charcoal and must have been redeposited from some nearby activity. This may well have been charcoal burning to produce fuel, not only for domestic use, but possibly for the area's ironworking industry.

An iron arrowhead from our excavation at Gillow has been examined by Dr Alf Webb of the Society of Archer-Antiquaries. He identified it as a London Museum Type 1, and/or a Jessop type MP3. This type of general-purpose arrowhead had a very long life, being first used in the 10th century and continuing into the 16th.




For further information please contact Archenfield Archaeology Ltd on 01432 830 757 or
email info@archenfield.com


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This project was part-financed by the European Union (EAGGF) and DEFRA through the Herefordshire Rivers LEADER+ Programme.