Welcome to the Urban Archaeology blog. Freelance archaeologist Chiz Harward provides a range of on and offsite services to the archaeological profession, including running and working on excavations, post-excavation services, training and development work, and illustration work. This weblog will carry news of projects as and when they happen as well as wider thoughts on archaeological issues, especially recording, stratigraphy and training.

Happy new year

Well 2015 has been a full-on year here at Urban Archaeology. The 100 Minories‬ excavations in the City of London never failed to provide fascinating insights into medieval and post-medieval London: from fabulous oak revetments to 17th and 18th century buildings and drainage systems, as well as some wonderful domestic clearance dumps. All in all a very good year for timber, bricks, ceramics and clay pipes, as well as for digging very deep holes.

There is a lot more to Urban Archaeology than 'just' digging holes though; on the ecclesiastical front the Gloucestershire Cross-slab Survey is now up and running -we're having our first training day in a few days- and work recording the six Romanesque lead fonts from Gloucestershire is almost complete. There have been some wonderful artefacts to illustrate this year and there is plenty more illustration work in the pipeline, which looking outside at the rain can only be a good thing.

On the publication front, 2015 saw the long-awaited publication of two of my MOLA monographs -Upper Walbrook Roman Cemetery, and Post-medieval Spitalfields (with an article in Current Archaeology), and Plantation Place and Medieval Spital can't be far behind. Looking forwards we are working on the publication text for the excavation at Horse and Groom -Iron Age burials and some wonderful medieval farm buildings- and hope to get that into a journal for next year, along with a few short articles.

So thank you to everyone who has followed us over the last year, I hope you have found all the posts interesting, and I'd like to wish you all a peaceful 2016,

Chiz Harward
Urban Archaeology

Current Archaelogy article: Spitalfields Market post-medieval book

This month's Current Archaeology magazine contains an article on the MOLA Spitalfields Market project in London, which I co-wrote with finds specialist Nigel Jeffries (MOLA). The excavations in Spitalfields were one of London's largest ever excavations and were carried out between 1991 and 2007. I was a supervisor on the excavations and and worked on the post-excavation from 1998 to 2008, contributing to the medieval and post-medieval monographs.

Current Archaeology 310 - now on sale!

Horse and Groom Inn burial: carbon date results in!

We have just received the results of the carbon dating of the Middle Iron Age skeleton from Horse and Groom Inn, Bourton on the Hill, Gloucestershire. The skeleton was of a male, who died aged 25-40, and stood 1.76m (5'9") tall.
'Rusty' the Iron Age skeleton

Six Romanesque lead fonts from Gloucestershire, ongoing research

A short break from 100 Minories post-excavation allowed a day trip to St Lawrence church, Sandhurst, Gloucestershire to record their lead Romanesque font. The font is one of six surviving lead fonts which were all cast from the same mould in the mid twelfth century, and all are to be found in Gloucestershire. They were discussed by George Zarnecki in his 1957 book 'English Romanesque Lead Sculpture', but they have never been fully illustrated or described.
Romanesque font at St Lawrence Church, Sandhurst, Gloucestershire (click to enlarge)

100 Minories: post-medieval drains and sewers…

I've been spending the last few weeks checking through the records from the LP Archaeology excavations at 100 Minories in the City of London. It's been a nice opportunity to revisit parts of the site and take a proper look at some of what we all dug up over the last year. The site was located over the City Ditch, which gradually became infilled and was eventually built over in the 16th and 17th centuries. The whole site was then cleared and redeveloped en masse in the 1760s as part of a large, high quality Georgian development. One of my key interests on this site is in the development of post-medieval waste water and sewage management systems - or drains and sewers....

17th century brick cesspit cut by late 19th century stoneware sewer

Palmyra Photogrammetry project

Many of us have read of the destruction and looting of Syrian monuments and antiquities over the past few years, recently the destruction of parts of the stunning World Heritage Site of Palmyra, and the murder of curator Khaled Al-Asaad has been in the headlines. I've just learnt of a project to use a computer photogrammetry program to reconstruct a 3-D computer model of the site using digital photographs. The project will use digital photographs taken by tourists, photographers and archaeologists to create a 3-D model. The more digital photos they get -especially of the sides, backs and less spectacular parts- the better the model will be. 
So if you have ever been to Palmyra, or know someone who has been, then please get in touch via email at palmyra3dmodel@outlook.com

I'd like to believe all of us are appalled by what has happened in Syria over the last few years, a small part of which has been the destruction of priceless ancient monuments like those at Palmyra. Whilst we can't rebuild those monuments, technology does allow us to reconstruct 3-D digital models of their appearance.

Just one small thing that archaeologists and tourists alike can do to help preserve our common heritage. Please spread the word.

The project has a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Palmyra3Dmodel/timeline.


100 Minories: post-excavation work

The excavation work at LP Archaeology's 100 Minories site finished a few weeks ago, but after a well-earned holiday work has re-started on the post-excavation program. The first step is to finish checking the 3000 individual context records, making sure that they are all complete and cross-referenced, both on the paper records and in the digital Ark database. In addition thousands of hand-drawn plans and sections must be checked; they will then be digitised using Q-GIS software plug-ins developed during the excavation by LP Archaeology. The digitised plans will then be loaded into the Ark database; this holds scanned copies of the paper context sheets, as well as digital registers for contexts, plans, sections, photographs and samples, and all the digital photographs of the site. These are all cross-referenced and are linked to the spatial plan data making a very powerful tool for interrogating the site records.

Hot off the presses.... The Spitalfields suburb 1539–c 1880

Just had news that the second MOLA Spitalfields monograph has arrived back from the printers and should be available soon....congratulations to everyone who worked on the many excavations (over 26 separate sites) and the post-ex process.

THE SPITALFIELDS SUBURB 1539–_C_ 1880: EXCAVATIONS AT SPITALFIELDS MARKET, LONDON E1, 1991–2007 by Chiz Harward, Nick Holder and Nigel Jeffries

'One of London’s largest archaeological excavations took place at Spitalfields Market, on the north-eastern fringe of the historic city, between 1991 and 2007. This book presents an archaeological history from the 16th to the 19th

Archaeology blogging research questionnaire

Fleur Schinning is carrying out research into archaeological blogging and social media for a Masters in Heritage Management at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Her research will focus on the use of blogs and social media and how they contribute to the accessibility of archaeology in the Netherlands, but she is looking at blogs from the US and UK:

"For my research I will be looking at several blogs from both the UK and USA; in these countries blogging seems widely accepted and used a lot as a tool in creating support for archaeology, and I have come across some very interesting and successful blogs...

...To be able to explore how blogging in archaeology contributes to public archaeology, I would like to question the bloggers and blog readers of these blogs. This is where my request comes in. I have set up a questionnaire in which I ask the visitors of your blog several questions regarding their motives for visiting the blog and so on....

The questionnaire can be viewed here:
...All participants also have a chance to win a small prize; 6 issues of Archaeology Magazine!"

So if you have a moment, please help Fleur with her research,


MOLA Monographs

This summer will see the publication of at least three monographs in the MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) series to which I've contributed. Together they account for some of the biggest projects I worked on during my ten years as Senior Archaeologist and Project Officer at MoLAS, and it is great to see them getting published. All of these projects were both challenging and stimulating, and each of them has tangibly progressed our understanding of London's past. I learnt a huge amount on each of these projects and it was a privilege to work with some of the best archaeologists in the country; my thanks and congratulations to everyone involved from the project planning to the final archiving.

100 Minories 'Pop-up Museum'

I've spent almost the last year working with LP Archaeology on their excavation at 100 Minories, next to the Tower of London. It's been a fantastic site, digging a transect across the Tudor and later City ditches, and excavating parts of the Portsoken suburb. We are holding a series of 'Pop-up Museums' next to the site over the next few weeks. Details can be found on the 100 Minories website, which is well worth a visit: http://100minories.lparchaeology.com/research/100-minories-pop-up-museum/

"Towards the end of the excavation works, L – P : Archaeology will be holding its very own ‘Pop Up Museum’ at the 100 Minories site.
Unlike a regular museum, Pop Up Museum is a temporary entity. For a few days in June and July  as part of the Festival of Archaeology, the L – P : Archaeology team are going to occupy the public space around the site to display the archaeology of 100 Minories to the public. On offer to visitors will be artefacts from the site to view and handle, one-on-one tours with the archaeologists, a chance to sample authentic historic food, as well as other interactive displays.
The idea behind hosting a Pop Up Museum comes as part of our commitment to ‘open’ archaeology and ‘open’ data, where often the commercial sector remains closed to visitors. By opening up the site and its findings whilst the site is being excavated, we hope to achieve a form of rapid dissemination for all those interested in the latest archaeological findings in London. We would like to invite the public to experience the history of the site and its finds within its landscape context.
Stay tuned for regular updates, on the Pop Up Museum via this project page, and our social media channels.
17th, 19th, 27th JUNE
17th, 18th JULY
The event is free and open to all."

100 Minories: new article on a 17th century timber structure

At 100 Minories the sheer depth and relatively recent date of the archaeological deposits has meant that some organic remains have survived on the site despite the upper levels not being waterlogged or fully anaerobic. Typically these are leather offcuts and parts of shoes, but we also recover fragments of cloth and wood.
We recently excavated a large rectangular pit dating from the early-mid 17th century containing over forty oak and pine timbers......
Read more on LP Archaeology's project website at http://100minories.lparchaeology.com/a-17th-century-timber-structure/

New article on 100 Minories and the City Ditch

I've written a short article describing the infilling of the London City Ditch. We are currently digging down through the ditch at 100 Minories and have been finding some beautiful artefacts, as well as timber structures and buildings dating from after the ditch was infilled.
17th century Lion mask glass stem, probably dating 1620-1642
Read more at http://100minories.lparchaeology.com/levelling-the-land-the-infilling-of-the-city-ditch-1600-1760/

Clay pipe training at 100 Minories

As part of the #100Symposium, we have been trying out different ways of training staff, developing skills, and increasing awareness of the various facets of the archaeology of London. At the start of site we ran a series of short handling sessions using an assemblage of unstratified clay tobacco pipes we had recovered during the watching brief phase. The collection of about 40 pipe bowls dated from the early 17th century to late 18th century and represented a good cross-section of undecorated pipe forms.

Read more at http://100minories.lparchaeology.com/clay-tobacco-pipe-training/

100 Minories website

The excavation at 100 Minories in the City of London is well under way, and there is now a project website where you can read more about the site background and what we are up to: http://100minories.lparchaeology.com/

The excavation is being carried out by LP Archaeology, with Chiz Harward of Urban Archaeology acting as Project Officer in charge of the excavation.