On Location: Durotriges Project, 2014 – Roman Burials.


Today’s On Location is featuring the Durotriges Project, an excavation in Winterborne Kingston,  Dorset, UK, which is held by Bournemouth University.

This archaeological site shows significant Iron Age and Roman settlement, particularly with the Durotriges tribe and Roman interaction. The Durotriges Project has been a yearly excavation, starting in 2009, which has uncovered many archaeological features. Over the past five years, the site has unearthed an Iron Age banjo enclosure, two Roman villas, an Iron Age burial site and numerous storage pits.

During this years excavation they were able to uncover a Bronze Age food preparation area surrounded by storage pits, and a flint mine – which was used to source the materials needed to construct the settlement’s buildings. Within the flint mine, students discovered the skeletal remains of an 18 month old juvenile.

Food Prep area DBD2014

The Bronze Age food preparation area, defined by post holes with a hearth in the centre, that was discovered during the Durotriges Project 2014. A storage pit can be seen to the right.

photo 3

The flint mine that was discovered in Trench 2. Within this flint mine, students unearthed the skeletal remains of an 18 month old juvenile.

The Durotriges Project recently hit the news this year with its discovery of five Roman burials. The burials, thought to date between 350AD to 380AD, were uncovered within a 15 by 15m  square enclosure around 100m away from the previously found Roman villa.

Roman Burials Within Enclosure

The five Roman era burials, dated between 350AD and 380AD, which were discovered within a square enclosure.

The skeletal remains found within the five graves have been identified as two males and three females. The males and two females have been aged between 40-50 years old, and the other female aged between 80-90 years old. The individuals were buried within coffins, with evidence of them being clothed as eyelets from their shoes were discovered.


One of the five Roman burials uncovered by the Durotriges Project.

It is thought that they were of “high status” as were buried with great care and with burial gifts. It is hoped that the individuals were the occupants of the nearby Roman villa, and that their discovery will help shed light about the Roman’s diet, heath and ancestry.

To learn more about Bournemouth University’s Durotriges Project’s other fascinating discoveries from the site, you can view their blog here. Follow them on Twitter, and keep up to date with them by liking their Facebook page!

Porthkerry Country Park’s hidden archaeological secret.

Due to the weather being exceptionally hot and sunny whilst I’m still in Cardiff, I thought it would be a lovely time for a day trip to Porthkerry Country Park. I have visited Porthkerry Country Park many times in my life and only really noticed the immense viaduct that dominates the skyline, but today I found a hidden medieval gem within the woods surrounding the Country Park.


Porthkerry Country Park’s viaduct.

I found out that in Cliffwood resides a medieval Mill, dating back to the 13th century. The Mill, where they would process corn, is thought to have been built by the farming community within the ancient manor of Barry.


Computer model of the 13th century corn Mill. ©Cadw

The Mill was thought to have been a two-roomed structure with the inner room containing the machinery for the mill. The machinery would have been powered by an overshot waterwheel which was supplied from a small holding pond above the mill. The water that filled the pond was fed with water from a leat, a hand-cut channel, diverted from Barry Brook opposite from the Nightingale cottage. It is estimated that the leat is roughly 500 metres long, with evidence still remaining of its vast length. There is also archaeological evidence that the Mill was abandoned sometime in the 14th century after a fire.


The Mill hidden amongst Porthkerry’s Cliffwood.


Current day remains of the 13th century corn Mill.

I absolutely love stumbling upon any hidden archaeological gem but today’s medieval mill in one of South Wales’ most beautiful country parks was purely found by chance. Porthkerry Country park not only has a medieval Mill within it’s grounds, the beach also has an amazing cliff where you can really see the different layers making up the stratigraphy.


The cliffs to the left of the Porthkerry pebble beach, showing the different stratification layers.

Photos from my dig experience – DBD’ 2011



Panoramic view of the site – Day 5, clearing the topsoil to show off the hidden features.

Here is a blog post with some chosen photos from my time on the Durotriges Big Dig – held yearly by Bournemouth University. I went on this excavation as part of my first year units where I had to be part of this experience for the whole of June. We worked from 8-5pm every day and only had Sundays off. It really opened my eyes to the world of archaeology and gripped me and pushed me to carry on doing my course.This site is aged to be that of late Iron Age – Roman and is situated in Dorset, England and there is a Roman villa situated on site along with numerous houses.

I was allocated my own pit, which was a midden (refuse pit), where I was lucky enough to stumble upon two skeletons – one juvenile and one perinatal. It was amazing to have such a hands on experience so soon after starting my degree.


Here I am in my pit, doing an action shot with my trusty 4inch trowel! I had to wear a hard hat as the midden was more than 1m in depth and there is hard/sharp chalk everywhere!


Here is a whole over shot of my lovely midden.


Here I am recording the contexts of my pit when it was newly uncovered with a clean edge to visualise the different colours/sediment types.


Here is my first ever context plan!


And this is my perinatal skeleton which I lifted and stored away and cared for over the last 2 weeks of my dig. 


On of the many finds trays I went through – you can see the bones, bits of pottery and other goodies I found. In the evidence bag/foil is a huge lump of charcoal which was sent to the lab to be dated.

I had so much fun on this excavation and really enjoyed the teamwork and community whilst we all shared each others wheelbarrows when we needed to get rid of our useless dirt.

– Rosie