Lock up your pets and grannies | Microburin’s on video

2014_SHBS_KirkvidAs if the world isn’t dangerous enough, @microburin is now on video – sounding alarmingly like Prince Harry – at Kirkleatham Museum, Redcar & Cleveland. The video introduces the Street House Before the Saxons exhibition which runs until July 2015. There are a few of my Mesolithic flint images (and text) on the info-boards too. MicrolithsThe Street House Farm archaeology project has been running since the 1980s under the directorship of Steve Sherlock, archaeologist extraordinaire and the chap currently responsible for the archaeological oversight of the A1(M) works between Leeming and Barton, including Roman Catterick CATARACTONIUM fort and town.

Street House, near Loftus in East Cleveland, has archaeological remains from at least the Neolithic − an early timber mortuary structure – through numerous Bronze Age burial mounds (and a wossit), an extensive Iron Age farming community who were probably making and selling salt, Romano-British canny folk who were manufacturing Whitby Jet objects like beads, spindle whorls and probably pins, with suggestions of continuity into the early post-Roman ‘dark ages’. There are also hints in the lithics of possible Later/Terminal Mesolithic activity, which is right up my street.

Of course, despite many thousands of years of human activity, Street House is probably best known for the Anglo-Saxon Royal Princess buried in a 7th-century AD cemetery, in her bed, with breathtaking jewels of gold and garnet, on permanent display. Do try visit both exhibitions—and peruse the Street House Roman phallus carving from the 2013 excavations?


Microburin is awf to Yorkshire | Smell of prehistory in the air


Kiplin-Hall-560Dear Microburins,

Been busy writing up some lithics in the temporary luxury of the air-conditioned lab, outside temperature above 30, experiencing delight with the new desk-clamped anglepoise camera attachment device thingy and gossiping with my neighbouring office friends – who have nothing to do with heritage or archaeology let alone tiny lithic tools – about what I’m up to. I love how interested they are and the brilliant questions they ask. I’m even Tweeped-up with the lovely office manager, Lenka, who observed my early antics (and burglarized anxieties) as I tried to make sense of excavation outputs. Turns out that the corporate film company, next door, know the DIG Ventures crew through family. Archaeology does get about a bit.

Tool boxes x2, bags, undies (unserialised), caps hats and bonnets, insect repellents, mattocks, ranging poles, hampers, odd socks and coolboxes are now packed for the next adventure – the annual digging round, this time supervising and training volunteers on an exciting project in North Yorkshire. There’s more than 10,000 years of archaeology in prospect here, post-glacial up to the present day. The most enjoyable aspect, as always, as every one of the past few years, is the direct human repartee – the crowd of folks from amazing backgrounds – who make any fieldwork compelling and rewarding.

I hope you have a brilliant summer too – much appreciate you taking an interest.

Charting Chipeling – The Archaeology of Kiplin Hall

Kiplin_KidsFor the past six months we’ve been slowly uncovering the archaeology of the Kiplin Hall grounds through a variety of archive research, landscape and earthwork survey, historic building recording and test-pitting. Now the three-week excavation is upon us and you are very welcome to come to Kiplin and take part in the excavations. The dig will be running from Monday 28 July to Friday 15 August (except Sundays) and there are currently spaces available on all days.

george_calvertTargets to be excavated include a ditch-and-bank enclosure currently thought to be part of the wider medieval grange that pre-dated the Jacobean Hall, built by the founder of Baltimore USA, a probable post-medieval brick kiln and the line of the medieval and potentially earlier road that preceded the turnpike road to Northallerton. Anybody interested please contact jb@solsticeheritage.co.uk with your preferred dates and he’ll add you to the list.

More information on the project can also be found at www.chartingchipeling.co.uk


Photography, Diplomacy and Grub | 1986 archaeology on a moor in Yorkshire

Dear Microburins.

Danby RiggI was flipping through some old (scanned) pictures from the prehistory of my archaeological past and thought you might enjoy these. It’s 1986 throw-back time, the second season investigating the Bronze Age upland landscape on Danby Rigg in the beautiful Esk valley on the North York Moors.

Aerial photography | On-site diplomacy | Sectioned lunch

The Bronze Age triple dykes subsequently radiocarbon dated to the Viking period, which was a surprise. The Durham University project included re-examination of a Bronze Age ring cairn with a large monolith, proving it to have at least one cremation burial.

Ring cairnThe landscape survey plotted the entire network of field systems and cairns hidden under the heather—certainly one of the most comprehensive surveys of its kind in north-east England, and executed before the advent of GPS or Total Station technology, but we did have an EDM. This was all dumpy level and back-sighting. I’m proud to be able to set up a theodolite in five seconds, while sleeping!

There is a tenuous Mesolithic connection in that, on the long walk up to the moor each morning, Microburin discovered a small Mesolithic assemblage at relatively low altitude. It included some blades and a scraper with edge gloss from processing plant materials, but no microliths. A large Mesolithic core was, inevitably, lying at the bottom of the deepest Viking ditch (residual). It’s a bit like the “token” sherd of Roman Samian Ware (posh dinner service crockery) found most other places, no matter what period you’re digging.

AF Harding Danby RiggHarding, A., Ostoja-Zagorski, J. 1994. Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, North Yorkshire, Archaeological Journal 151, 16-97.

The plans and sections are mostly mine, but some cheeky rascal got the credit.


TEESSCAPES Teesside Archaeological Society eNews | Autumn 2013

The latest edition is out—packed with news and events! Two options are available:

» Read as an online e-magazine | NEW! Gorgeous format using ISSUU e-publishing
» Download as a PDF file | save to your computer and read offline

  • TEESSCAPES Autumn 2013Society News | 2
  • TAS Lectures | 4
  • Special Feature | 7
    Skeletons in your cupboard?
  • Activities and Events | 10
  • News Roundup | 16
  • Site Notes | 22
  • Browser | 25
  • About TAS and how to join | 26

Remember | eNews is free – spread the word about TAS!

Uncover the hidden heritage of North East England

Spence | Twitter @microburin

TEESSCAPES Teesside Archaeological Society eNews | Apr 2013

The latest edition is out—packed with news and events!

  • TEESSCAPESEditorial Review
  • April Lecture Reminder | Tue 23 Apr 7.30pm Stockton Library : Dr Jim Innes (Durham) on the palaeoenvironments and landscapes of Fylingdales Moor, North York Moors
  • Activities & Events | Lectures, activities, events, fieldwork, training and more
  • Site Notes | The latest discoveries from the Tees area and NE England, Pipeline developments and consultations
  • Action Stations | Bamburgh Research Project crowd-funding campaign, English Heritage Angel Awards, Pevsner update for County Durham
  • Browser | This month’s recommended Browsing, Listening and Reading items
  • About TAS | How to Join | eNews Archive
  • Also available as a PDF download

Remember | eNews is free – spread the word about TAS!

Love the rich, distinctive heritage of North East England


Lindisfarne Gospels come home | Community volunteering opportunity : Summer 2013

lindisfarne_lgHello microburins,

This is definitely not Mesolithic, but compelling nonetheless for anyone in North East England. The famous Lindisfarne Gospels are coming to the ancient city of Durham this summer. There are fantastic opportunities for community participation and volunteering for folks in North East England—to promote education and enjoyment of one of the World’s greatest books dating to the 7th century AD.

LindisfarmeGospelsCoverVolunteers are being sought to work with their local museum on Lindisfarne Gospels related activities to help celebrate the exhibition in Durham this summer.

From 1 July to 30 September this precious manuscript will go on show in a must-see exhibition in Durham University’s Palace Green Library. Please read this news release to find out how to get involved.

Love the rich, distinctive heritage of North East England


Holy Island | Durham University Archaeology fieldtrip 1985

Holy Island | Durham University Archaeology fieldtrip 1985