The annual SLHA Archaeology Day was held at the Riverside Church Centre in Sleaford on Saturday 2 November, attended by a keen audience of more than 80. The conference covered a wide range of topics, mainly to do with recent archaeological work in Lincolnshire.
Adam Daubney, until recently the LCC Finds Officer, was the first speaker. He gave details of a dig close to a Roman barrow in Riseholme which has yielded an impressive range of Iron Age and Roman material, both pottery and coins. The excavation, led by Network Archaeology, involved a large group of RAF personnel and their families as part of the Nightingale Project which assists servicemen who have withdrawn from active duty on health grounds. An RAF officer and his wife spoke warmly of the benefits they and their family had derived from the project.
Coastal salt making in Lincolnshire was the title of Tom Lane’s presentation – and also the theme of his recently published book. Making salt was a key industry from the Iron Age onwards and many sites were developed near the coast in Lincolnshire. The largest concentrations were grouped along the former seashore south west of Boston (Bicker area) and near the modern coastline north of Skegness. Field markings give evidence of the industry in the first area while the archaeology is buried well below surface level in the second. Site investigations reveal changes in the technology of salt making over the centuries.
The keynote address for the conference was given by Professor Colin Haselgrove of Leicester University. He focused on the late Iron Age period, describing the features of settlements at Old Sleaford, Stanwick (North Yorkshire) and Scotch Corner (N Yorks). The nature and distribution of the coinage found on these sites and the associated coin or pellet moulds have led Professor Haselgrove to question whether the community in Old Sleaford was more closely linked to the Brigantes of Yorkshire rather than the Corieltavi, as commonly supposed.
‘Trade, wealth and worship at Little Carlton’ was the title of Duncan Wright’s presentation. The excavation he had led on a small site in the Middle Marsh of east Lincolnshire unearthed many coins of the Middle Saxon period, suggesting it had been an active trading centre. The discovery of hand bells, styli and other ‘special’ items led to the conclusion that this was an ‘elite’ site which had close involvement with a larger literate and religious community, possibly the nunnery at nearby Legbourne.
Professor Carenza Lewis gave a wide ranging talk on the Black Death. Originating in the steppes of eastern Europe in the fourteenth century, conveyed by fleas initially carried by marmots, the bubonic plague travelled quickly along trade routes throughout Europe. Recent estimates suggest that 60% of Europe’s population was wiped out. The scale of the disaster is reflected not only in the wholesale desertion of medieval villages but also in the significant drop in pottery finds, for example in East Anglian settlements, dating from this period.
The site of a significant Roman villa in Winterton has been known since the nineteenth century. A project led by Natasha Powers of Allen Archaeology, the next speaker, has excavated the adjacent area and uncovered items of late Roman jewellery. Of particular significance is the large Roman cemetery of 100 graves, the contents of which have still to be fully examined and analysed.
The final contribution was from Paul Cope-Faulkner of Architectural Project Services, Heckington. He is involved in a long running project at the sand quarrying sites in Tattershall and Tumby, both in the lower Bain valley. So far there is no evidence of a settlement in the area but there have been numerous finds from Neolithic to Roman periods which indicate that there was a transient local population from time to time.