Latest news from the Teesside Archaeological Society about forthcoming lectures, events, fieldwork and activities.
October 2012     
Star Carr Lecture | Activities & Events | News Roundup | Crimdon Update    
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Teesside Archaeological Society | eNews

Teesside Archaeological Society

Dear TAS Members and Friends,

This eNewsletter includes:
  • Editorial Review | Autumn Programme | 2013 AGM | Time called on Time Team
  • Activities & Events | October Lecture | Tees Archaeology Day School | Regional Events
  • Site Notes | Crimdon Dene Latest | Bronze Age Wearside | Iron Age Chilton | Roman South Shields Community Archaeology
  • Members' Voice | TAS Member Chris McLoughlin shares summer heritage travels
  • Browser | This month's recommended Browsing, Listening and Reading items
  • About TAS | How to Join | eNews Archive
Remember | eNews is freespread the word about TAS!

Welcome to your October eNewsletter and the delayed start of our autumn lecture programme now commencing with Prof Nicky Milner at Star CarrProf Nicky Milner of the University of York who will present recent Mesolithic discoveries in north-east England, details of the Star Carr Project research design and the latest discoveries from Flixton Island in the Vale of Pickering after a successful—and suprisingly dryexcavation season this year. Did anybody visit the open day? We'd love to hear what you thought.

On the subject of wet-land and drying peat, we're sorry that the September lecture had to be cancelled at short notice. The non-stop rain resulted in the closure of Stockton Library. We sincerely hope that nobody was badly affected by the floods. While roads and rail effectively shut down—the A1 was closed near Catterick—Blaise (TAS Chairperson) did report that he somehow managed to return to Teesside on the A1 "with no traffic at all". The ingenuity of seasoned archaeologists knows no bounds!

We're happy to announce that Dr Jim Innes of Durham University will be included in the 2013 TAS Programme to talk about the Vegetational History of Fylingdales Moor. Many thanks to Jim for offering to try to reach Stockton last month. Joan Weighell (Publicity Officer) reports that good progress has been made on next year's programme and that we should be able to release it once Blaise returns from a trip to Australia—presumably not on the A1. In any event we'll keep you briefed.

There's still chance to enrol in Tees Archaeology's day school event on the history and buildings of Stockton-on-Tees, and don't forget the free exhibition on the history of British pottery now open at the Museum of Hartlepool, including regional ceramic examples from the Bronze Age onwards—read on for more details.

If any of you missed the recent news about the discovery of a likely prehistoric skeleton near Crimdon Dene, we're happy to include the best media links below. Your editor was in touch with Rachel Grahame at Tees Archaeology for the latest update. Did you see her on BBC Look North?

We're also delighted to include in this eNews a TAS Member's summer recollections. Chris McLoughlin writes about two particular highlights—Fishbourne Roman Palace in West Sussex and the excellent archaeology day at Thornborough, part of the 2012 Festival of British Archaeology. We'd love to include your own experiences and actvities in future newsletters too.

Time Team LogoLastly, Channel 4 Television called time on Time Team at the end of last week. Many of you will be aware of the controversy through 2012 around the programme's style and content after twenty years of filming—an incredible achievement. This year's excavations will be broadcast in early 2013 and Channel 4 say that they are commissioning a number of documentaries that will extend into 2014. There continues to be much commentary, certainly on social media like Facebook, Twitter and blog sites. Visit these links to read Francis Pryor's (Time Team and DigVentures), Mike Pitts' (Council for British Archaeology) and Tim Taylor's (Time Team Producer) personal thoughts.
Click to downloadTAS Autumn Programme

Do download this flyer*, pin it to noticeboards, and spread the word about TAS. There will be an Elgee Memorial Lecture (not hosted by TAS this year) in December too—details to follow later in the autumn.

January 2013 AGM | How you can help

The Committee helps coordinate the Society's shared enthusiasm but also needs your help! We're looking for new Committee members to join in 2013—this is a great opportunity to get more involved, whatever your experience or interests. If you'd like to know more about what's involved, make an application or offer a suggestion, Blaise—our chairperson—would be delighted to hear from you. Please send him an email at

The 2013 AGM and Members Evening will take place at 7.15pm Tuesday 29 January at Stockton Library. This is a day dedicated to members—it's about a friendly celebration of what we've done, what we've enjoyed, and where we'd like to go. So if you would like to deliver a short, informal talk about what you've been working on or an area of particular interest to you
—let Blaise know.

PDF*The flyer is in PDF format—you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer—most computers have it installed already. You can download it for free from

TAS Lecture

Recent Mesolithic Discoveries

in North-East England

Prof Nicky Milner | University of York

Tue 30 October | Stockton Central Library | 7.15pm

StarCarrStar Carr is an internationally important Early Mesolithic site near Flixton, Scarborough, North Yorkshire. The site was first discovered and excavated from 1948-1952, producing a staggering array of rare and important artefacts, the quantity and quality of which have not been matched since in Europe. Recent excavations revealed further important evidence: the discovery of a structure gained global media coverage as the 'oldest house in Britain'; and a 30m wooden platform represents the earliest evidence of systematic carpentry in Europe. This talk will highlight the discoveries made in both the past and present research projects, and will outline the aspirations for the coming years.

TAS Members will be able to purchase The Story of Star Carr booklet after the lecture for £2.50. Please try to bring the right change. The proceeds contribute to ongoing research, fieldwork and post-excavation finds conservation.

More Info on the Star Carr Project |

Interested in the Mesolithic?

Mesolithic Miscellany is a free and community-run source of news, information and discussion of the European Mesolithic plus a no-charge internet journal published twice a year | Website | Facebook

Stockton Central Library is located off Church Road, Stockton-on-Tees, TS18 1TU. Free parking is at the rear of the library—turn into the street named The Square towards the river, entering the car park through barriers on the right. Enter the doors at the rear of the building and turn right into the lecture room. Please sign the visitor's book. Guests are welcome for £3 each on the door. Refreshments are available afterwards.

Conferences, Seminars & Events

StocktonTees Archaeology

November Day School | New Exhibition

History and Buildings of Stockton-on-Tees | Day School | Sat 3 Nov 2012
Features keynote address by author and broadcaster John Grundy
Venue | ARC, Dovecot Street, Stockton | Booking is Required | Tees Archaeology Website

History of British Pottery | Exhibition | Until Sun 6 Jan 2013
Museum of Hartlepool | Free entry

Swaledale and Arkengarthdale

Archaeology Group

October Guided Walks

Tue 23 October 2012 | Explore Swaledale's Past
A moderate 3 mile circular walk from Reeth to the splendid Iron Age enclosure of Maiden Castle with magnificent views of the prehistoric landscape of Swaledale.  Leader Peter Denison-Edson.

Thu 25 October 2012 | Explore Swaledale's Geology
A gentle 3-4 mile walk to investigate the geology of the Dales & its impact on the environment. Basic rock types will be discussed; there will be an opportunity to find fossils. Leader John Russell.

Fri 26 October 2012 | Explore Swaledale's Mining Heritage
A moderate, initially strenuous, 4 mile walk exploring the chert quarrying and lead mining industry in Arkengarthdale. Drive from Reeth to the start at foot of Turf Moor Hush. Leader Stephen Eastmead.

All walks meet on Reeth Green at 9.45am (outside the Gift Shop) with a drive to the start where necessary. Wear stout shoes or walking boots, bring a drink & water proofs. There will be a small charge to support SWAAG's  project work.  Adults £4, under 16's free (SWAAG Members £3).

More Info | | Phone Alan Mills 01748 884938

SWAAG have just published their third book entitled "Swaledale: Where the Gods Shed a Tear". It contains over 500 photographs of the industrial archaeology and geology of Swaledale with descriptions and information, and in most cases grid references to enable visitors to find the sites easily. It is available for £3.99 as an e-book in format enabling reading on computers and many mobile devices. For easy ordering go direct to or via the SWAAG website which has a click-through link on the homepage to SWAAG publications.

Friends of Sunderland Museums

History Talks

Pompeii and Hurculaneum | Barry Mead

SunderlandSat 10 November | Lecture | 2.00pm-4.00pm

Everyone is welcome, visitors pay £1 on the door. Tea, coffee and biscuits will be served in the interval | More Info

Archaeology Seminars at

The University of York

New lecture series open to the public

KMYThe York Seminars are free and open to everyone. They provide an opportunity for guest speakers to present their current research. The seminars usually take place on Wednesdays during the autumn and spring terms. No booking is required.

Venue | King's Manor Room K133, City Centre Y01 7EP | Seminars start at 5.15 pm
| Website
Robert Van De Noort: Professor of Wetland Archaeology and Dean of the College of Social Sciences and International Studies, University of Exeter
Nigel Copsey: Earth Stone & Lime Co.
Peter Jordan: Head of Archaeology, University of Aberdeen
Richard Bradley: Professor in Archaeology, University of Reading
Malcolm Lillie: Reader in Prehistoric Archaeology and Wetland Science, University of Hull
Timothy Insoll: Professor of Archaeology, University of Manchester

Site Notes

Crimdon Dene Skeleton

Latest Update

School children recently came across human skeletal remains revealed by coastal erosion near Crimdon Dene, north of Hartlepool. Rachel Grahame of Tees Archaeology faced a barrage of press interest last week and provides her latest exclusive snippets for TAS eNews readers, below. If you missed the regional media stories, here are some of the best links:
Since these news items went to press, a more thorough examination of the bones has taken place. Rachel reports:

"We received the bones from Cleveland Police, and have conducted an initial examination. Provisionally we have the lower left leg, the right leg, the right pelvis and the right arm. We know from Dr Tim Thompson at Teesside University that the remains are those of a teenager and probably a male. We are not sure of the burial position at the moment—the position of the skull and initial police reports suggest the burial was extended supine, but the pattern of bone recovery suggests the burial was crouched lying on its left side."

Safety First

Cleveland Police have requested that members of the public to stay away from the South Durham Coastal limestone cliffs and high sand dunes. They are particularly dangerous and prone to unpredictable land slips, especially after the recent wet conditions. Sand dunes are also extremely fragile environments where damage to vegetation, and hence their stability, can take many years to recover. Please do not put yourself or anybody else at risk.

Hartlepool's Most Ancient Heritage

CrimdonBeckCrimdon Dene¹ is also known for extensive Mesolithic flint scatters discovered in the 1940s. Filpoke Beacon², a little farther north, has produced one of the earliest Late Mesolithic radiocarbon dates for geometric "narrow blade" microliths: 8760 +/- 140 BP³ (Q-1474) based on carbonized hazelnut shells. A submerged forest sits off the coast south of Hartlepool and has revealed Late Mesolithic and Neolithic evidence including flints and a possible fish weir (see Tees Archaeology’s monograph series).

Bronze Age burials, albeit in stone cists, were discovered in the vicinity of the Mesolithic house at Howick and elsewhere along the Northumberland Coast.

¹ Young, R. 2007. ‘I must go down to the sea again…’ A Review of Early Research on the ‘Coastal’ Mesolithic of North-East England, in Waddington, C. & Pedersen, K (eds). Mesolithic Studies in the North Sea Basin and Beyond. Oxford: Oxbow.
² Jacobi, R. 1976. Britain Inside and Outside Mesolithic Europe. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society (PPS) 42: 67-84.
³ BP means Before Present (1950 AD). The Q number is a unique identifier for the Lab and the sample (different Labs have different codes). Radiocarbon and Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) aging-dating are complex and challenging processes and results must be treated with great caution. Complex calibration adjustments are needed to give virtual calibrated "dates" around varying degrees of statistical probability (the + or - deviation). Hazelnut shells are more reliable for aging than wood because they are shorter lived—”old wood” can itself be hundreds of years old before burning and deposition into the archaeological record. Direct association with human activity is preferred, such as human bones, humanly modified animal bones or artefacts, short-lived organic objects and charcoal that can be directly associated with human activity in sealed deposits such as hearths or structures.
Howick is an excellent example of what can be achieved.

Bronze Age Wearside

New research reveals Sunderland's distant past

Hasting Hill BurialWith uncanny parallels to our Crimdon Dene story, the Sunderland Echo reported in late September that new research and a re-assessment of 19th Century antiquarian finds indicate that Wearside and Sunderland have roots that extend back at least to the Bronze Age, very likely much earlier too:

“Local folk thought a murder had been committed, but Dr Greenwell believed that, because of its position, the body probably dated to ancient times and the hair was fibrous plant roots."

A recent geophysical survey of land surrounding Hasting Hill conducted by Dr Jan Harding of Newcastly University has confirmed it served as a memorial complex between 3,700 and 3,300 BC, featuring burial chambers and ceremonial routes.

Dr Harding commented “It is a rare example of such a complex in the North East. You don’t find many sites like this between North Yorkshire and Morpeth and, as such, it is really important. It was obviously a place of worship as far back as the fourth millennium.”

Iron Age Chilton, County Durham

Part of the Limestone Landscapes Partnership

The Northern Echo reports that  land at Great Chilton, between Ferryhill and Chilton, in County Durham, is being excavated in a bid to discover more about the site’s past. Experts from Durham University are leading the community archaeology project for Durham County Council, which secured funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund and 4Together Partnership towards the work. Pre-excavation fieldwork across several aerial photohraph enclosures recoved flints, Roman coins as well as Medieval pottery.

County archaeologist, David Mason, believes "the site could date back to 500 BC and looks like a farmstead occupied by several generations."

Excavations this year revealed Iron Age hut circles and the hope is for a second season in 2013. The Limestone Landscapes Partnership is working with many different people to conserve the landscapes, wildlife and rich heritage of the Magnesian Limestone and enable communities to learn about, enjoy and celebrate their local area.

More Finds from Roman South Shields

Community Archaeology at ARBEIA

ArbeiaThe Shields Gazette uncovers a story about community participation in ongoing work at South Shields Roman fort and vicus—a World Heritage Site and one of the few places the public can see excavations taking place and get involved. It's one of the few places in northern England where you can experience the sheer scale of imposing structures such as a gatehouse, barracks and the commanding officer's residence.

"Arbeia is part of a new community archaeology project, giving members of the public the chance to get involved in hands-on excavation work and desk-based research."

2012 also saw the opening of a new gallery at the museum displaying amazing finds.


 Members' Voice

West Sussex to West Tanfield

TAS Member Chris McLoughlin recalls a British summer of heritage travels

Fishbourne Roman PalaceFrom my year of visits, lectures, holidays and reading probably my two outstanding events were firstly a visit to Fishbourne Roman Palace in Sussex. As a member of the Charles Dickens Fellowship I attend the annual conferences held in various venues and this year’s Bi-centenary event was held in Southsea where Dickens was born, indeed the family still live there seven generations on.

Part of every Conference weekend is a choice of a trip out on either a Literary or a Historical theme in the area and Conference Sunday featured a Roman Day to Fishbourne Palace, Portchester Castle (Portus Adurni) and then Holy Trinity at Bosham built on Roman Foundations and also featured in the Bayeaux Tapestry.

Home to Rome's British King

Though called a Palace, the Fishbourne site is really a splendid large house albeit with one hundred rooms, believed to have been built for or by client king Tiberius Claudius Gogidubnus, and the famed mosaic floors were spectacular. As always, though seen previously in photographs the actual mosaics such as “Cupid on a Dolphin” are very impressive close up and of course, the site is only part of the known building. The house originally stretched in to the nearby village of Fishbourne and the south wing is under the road and village all of which lie next to the harbour. The site history runs from the 43 AD invasion to around 75 AD then 75-100 when the Palace was constructed and thereafter until 280/290 AD. Although I only had an hour or so there I plan to make a return and see much more of the site and the area.

Ritual Landscapes

ThornboroughSecondly, the Festival of British Archaeology in the second half of July gave the opportunity for an outstanding day at Thornborough just North of Ripon and its Neolithic and Bronze Age Monuments plus an introduction to all the Monuments stretching down the A1 corridor from Catterick to Ferrybridge.

Led by Dr Jan Harding from Newcastle University we were able to explore this special landscape dated between 4,000 and 1,500 BC and made a partial visit to the three henges aligned along Orion’s Belt and Sirius which are under threat on several fronts.  I hope everyone on the day joined the Thornborough Heritage Trust to ensure the long-term security of the sites which really are a hidden gem in our rich early Northern history.

The 2013 Festival of British Archaeology, coordinated by the CBA, will be from Saturday 13 to Sunday 28th July.

Many thanks to Chris for sharing his summer journal. Do you want to share your heritage experiences, fieldwork or activities with TAS members? Send an email, with or without pictures, in any format (e.g. MS Word or plain text) to your Editor!


Past Perfect

The virtual reality of Durham and Northumberland

PastPerfectPast Perfect is a New Opportunities Fund grant-aided project run jointly by Durham and Northumberland County Councils. It uses the latest in virtual reality interactive technology to bring the archaeology and history of the two counties alive.

The website includes images and short video sequences from prehistoric burials and settlements to a 20th Century coal mine.
You can view reconstructions as virtual reality models that let you explore and walk through the structuresit requires a freely available plug-in for which a link is provided.

BBC Radio 4 "In Our Time"

Historical themes, events and key individuals from Akhenaten to Xenophon

In Our Time is hosted by broadcaster Melvyn Bragg who, with his expert guests, discuss the people, conflicts and events that have shaped the world. Programmes are available to download as podcasts or listen to in the History Archive. You can search a vast range of topics by era—each lasts about 40 minutes and includes a recommended reading list. Joan Weighell, our Publicity Officer, particularly recommends listening to Hadrian's Wall.

The Swale-Ure Washlands Project

Landscape history and human impacts on two great rivers

Swale Ure WashlandsThe Swale-Ure Washlands Project was resourced by English Heritage as part of the Aggregate Levy Sustainability Fund.  The work has been completed by a research team in the Geography Department at Durham University—including Dr Jim Innesworking closely with the Lower Ure Conservation Trust and North Yorkshire County Council, as well as researchers from the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, NEaar (North East amino acid racemisation) at the University of York, and with independent specialists and experts on particular aspects of the research.  TAS Chairperson Blaise Vyner was the archaeological consultant.

The project has studied the fluvial, vegetational and landscape evolution of the area and the impact of human activity during the later postglacial (Holocene) period.  This work has fulfilled one of the aims of the ALSF, by increasing local awareness of the value of this landscape for understanding the changing relationship between people and the environment in this area over the last 13,000 years.

PDFUse the menu at the top of the website to navigate this exellent guide that spans the Ice Age, Yorkshire's "lake district" right up to Medieval settlement | Download the brochure

British Archaeology

The Council for British Archaeology have just published the latest British Archaeology magazine. You can get hold of a copy by joining the CBA or from most good newsagents for £4.50. This November-December issue includes the sectacular results from the 3D imaging survey at Stonehenge, the Alan Sorrell archive, Shakespearean Playhouse archaeology, Lincolnshire LiDAR results and, as always, much more.

About TAS

The Teesside Archaeological Society is an enthusiastic, friendly group who share an interest in the archaeological heritage of the Tees Valley, Cleveland and the surrounding area.

Our rich heritage extends back to the Mesolithic—the 9th millennium BC—with a distinctively north-east take on every way-marker since those distant hunter-gatherers. Our journey spans Neolithic, Copper, Bronze, Iron and Roman eras—yes we have villas, Saxon royalty and Viking hogbacks, Medieval towns, castles, monastic places and pre-Industrialright up to our more recent past.

We welcome everybody who shares an interest, no matter what level of experience or expertise. There are monthly presentations on the last Tuesday, a summer field trip, an annual bulletin publication and the chance to find out more about field projects, educational events and community activities.
How to join

Annual membership is a bargain at £12 individual or £20 joint membership, due on 1 January each year. You can pay by post using the application form or at one of our meetings—look out for Mick Butler (Treasurer) or any Committee member.

The TAS Committee

Chairman Blaise Vyner Publicity Joan Weighell
Secretary Linda Davies Publications Jenny Parker
Treasurer Mick Butler Refreshments Carole Tyson

Feel free to forward this e-Newsletter to friends and contacts using the forward to a friend feature at the end of this message—they will be able to subscribe securely. To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your contact preferences, use the links below or email us.

You are also welcome to submit contributions for future newsletters. From time-to-time we'll send you details of activities and events that might be of interest.

Best Regards,
Spencer Carter | TAS eCommunications
The Committee welcomes your feedback,
questions, suggestions and news.
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