Project Info


The River Wye



Past events - Summer 2007 - Spring 2008


Ross Heritage Centre: Saturday April 12th - pottery with Alan Jacobs


Alan began by talking about pottery from its beginnings in the Neolithic period.



The group examined the fabric of pottery using magnifying glasses and a microscope. The pottery here is Romano-British Severn Valley ware from our excavations at Gillow Farm.



Jenny Gwynne of Archenfield Archaeology Ltd makes a point. The medieval jugs in the foreground are from Archenfield's St Peter's site in Hereford.



The bewigged man in the background had not actually booked for the session but was welcome anyway



Alan explaining different forms of medieval pottery


The group comparing pottery forms



A large medieval pot from Hereford - this was from the King's Fee excavation

Ross Heritage Centre: Saturday April 5th - environmental material with Elizabeth Pearson


'ecofacts' with Elizabeth Pearson of Worcestershire County Council's Historic Environment and Archaeology Service




The word 'ecofact' is used by archaeologists to describe the material which is found during excavations and which is not a man-made 'artefact'. It includes such things as ancient pollen, seeds and insect remains.This material can be as important as artefacts, because it can tell us about the environment at the time, and in what way human activity had affected it.


Hereford Museums Education and Resource Centre, Friar Street, Hereford: Saturday March 29th - flint tools with Karl Lee

Karl Lee taught a group of local people how to make flint tools. Here, two accomplished prehistoric tool makers compare their work. Dale Rouse on the left is more used to finding these tools than making them. Dale is an archaeologist with Archaeological Investigations Ltd of Hereford.


Karl Lee began by selecting a large nodule of flint



Which he then hit with a 'hammerstone'



The large nodule is reduced to workable size pieces



Karl selected one of these to produce a tool



Working the on the flint using an antler pick



Examining the tool



The finished tool - an 'acheulian hand-axe. The Acheulean industry originated in Africa where the earliest hand-axes, from the Turkana region of Kenya, are 1.65 million years old. This technology spread throughout Africa, Europe and Asia and was used to make the tools used at the kill site of Boxgrove in Sussex.



The dominant material culture of hominins for a very long time was Acheulean and these tools were used by Homo ergaster (an early Homo erectus), and Homo heidelbergensis. Karl made this in less than half an hour.



Making flint tools creates lots of waste flakes, known to archaeologists as 'debitage'. At the 500,000 year-old site at Boxgrove it is possible to tell in what position a Homo heidelbergensis sat because of the spread of debitige. He or she sat with their ankles crossed.

Hereford Museums Education and Resource Centre, Friar Street, Hereford: Saturday March 8th - pottery with Derek Hurst

Derek Hurst began by explaining what pottery is. We are all so used to pottery that we rarely even think about it, and yet we use it within minutes of getting out of bed in the morning.



We know that pottery begins as clay. Derek pointed out that by heating the clay to a high temperature - 'firing' the pottery - potters convert it to what is technically a metamorphic rock. You can turn clay into pottery, but you can't turn pottery back into clay.



This process was invented (perhaps 'discovered' is a better word) by prehistoric people thousands of years ago.



Derek explained how pottery has changed over time. Prehistoric pottery was hand-made. The Romans mass-produced good quality wares which can be found from Scotland to Syria.



In the early medieval period the Anglo-Saxon east of England was producing impressive large pottery vessels. Wales and the west has an absence of pottery apart from a few luxury pieces imported from the Mediterranean. There is no pottery of this period at all in Herefordshire.



Glazed pottery began to appear in the late Anglo-Saxon period, notably from the Stamford area in Lincolnshire. By the 12th century green-glazed pottery can be found everywhere.



A late medieval drinking vessel from a medieval manor-house in Herefordshire. Earlier pottery was of two types - jugs and cooking pots. We assume plates and cups were wooden, or of some other perishable material. Cups like this appear towards the end of the medieval period.



A salt cellar from the same site as the cup above. Again this is a late medieval high-status item.



A large medieval dish



The tools used to identify different types of pottery.


Early Medieval Dyke - Foy: Friday  8th February, 2008

Staff from Archenfield Archaeology Ltd took advantage of the bright February weather to visit the early medieval dyke at Perrystone in Foy parish.



It is, of course, Offa's Dyke with which people are most familiar, but there are dykes all over the country.



Dykes are usually difficult to date precisely - when excavated they tend not to produce finds.



A dyke across the Arrow valley in north Herefordshire can be seen to cut across fields of the Roman period.



This dyke is a bit of a mystery. Some people believed that it was part of the same system as Offa's Dyke. This is not really very likely.



The Perrystone Dyke was constructed for some purpose that is now entirely lost to us.



A thousand years after the construction of the dyke, an avenue of trees was planted at Perrystone. The house of the time has disappeared but the trees, and the dyke, remain.


Hereford Museums Education and Resource Centre, Friar Street, Hereford: Saturday January 26th

In the six or seven hundred thousand years that tools have been made in Britain it is only in the last two and a half thousand years that flint has been superseded by metal.

Prehistoric flint tool workshop with Roger Pye, local archaeologist, flint collector and acknowledged expert in the field.



Roger has been collecting flints for 50 years and has dug many sites.  He has found flints during his work as forestry contractor, much on new ground.  During the pipeline of 1972 between Stow on the Wold and Plynlimmon he found 50 sites. 



An Acheulean handaxe. Acheulean tools are Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) and are named from the type site at Saint Acheul, now a suburb of Amiens, where they were first identified in the 19th century.  These were the tools of the people moved out of Africa to colonise Europe and Asia. Acheulean techniques were used from over 1.5 million years ago to about 100,000 years.



Roger kept his audience fascinated and frequently amused!



A natural nodule of flint. These are formed in chalk and occur in beds within it. In the Neolithic (New Stone Age) period flint was mined. The best known Neolithic flint mines are at Grimes  Graves in Norfolk where vertical shafts were sunk to the best beds and then galleries were cut horizontally into them.



The polished stone axe is the 'signature' Neolithic tool. This very large one was found near Hay-on-Wye.



Roger has excavated at a Neolithic settlement site at Peterchurch, Herefordshire, where he discovered over 4,000 flints.

He pointed out that the capstone of the nearby Arthur's Stone Neolithic burial chamber weighs 14 tons and it takes 12 people to move one ton. This means having 168 people available.




Caplor Farm - Tuesday 4th December

Finds processing - preparing finds from the project for deposition in Herefordshire Museum


Caplor Farm - Tuesday 27th November

Finds processing - preparing finds from the project for deposition in Herefordshire Museum


Caplor Farm - Tuesday 13th November

Finds processing - another afternoon of preparing finds from the project for deposition with Herefordshire Museums services


Caplor Farm, Tuesday 16th October

Finds processing - an afternoon of preparing finds for deposition in Herefordshire Museum

Caplor Farm, Saturday 6th October

Pottery identification

Alan Jacobs, formerly of the Worcestershire Archaeological Service, took the group through some of the pottery found during the project and showed the group how to identify the various types.

Alan holding a sherd of 2nd century 'Malvern ware' pottery



Orange 2nd century Roman-British 'malvern ware'. In the background is a much coarser pottery, which. if found on its own, would simply be called 'Iron Age'.



As it was found in large pieces, together with 2nd century pottery, also in large pieces, we may assume that it is of the same date.



The likely explanation is that the native 'Iron Age' tradition pottery continued to be made and used for some purposes while the more modern Roman style pottery was used for others - perhaps as best tableware.



Alan looks at post medieval pottery found during the project.




LOWV earlier events


Spring 2007


Autumn-Winter 2006-7


Summer 2006


Spring 2006


Autumn-Winter 2005/6





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Wye Valley Events pages

maintained by Archenfield Archaeology


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