Dawn Robinson

Durotriges Project 2014 – The New Season Begins!

Wednesday 16th July 2014

This week marks the official start for the Durotriges Project, also known as the Big Dig, which is expanding the excavations to a new and tantalising area. The Durotriges Project is considered to be of national importance and has features spanning the Bronze Age to the post Roman period, also known as the Dark Ages. A site with so many time periods present offers the chance to look at the transitional zones when societies and cultures were changing, such as from the Iron Age to the Roman period. An important discovery last year revealed a glimpse of one of those transition zones.

As is the case with so much archaeology, discoveries are constantly being made and interpretations of these discoveries morph and evolve as more evidence comes to light. Last year, an exciting Romanesque structure was revealed and on initial excavation and the recovery of painted wall plaster, was interpreted as being a Roman bathhouse, linked to the nearby villa. However on further analysis, the structure was actually an agricultural corn dryer that dated to the Post-Roman period and Roman materials, from the now abandoned villa, were cannibalised for its construction. There are a great number of published villas and lovely associated bathhouses but there are a scarce number of sites which have evidence of continuous occupation and use of an area after the Roman period!

As can be seen by the numerous blog posts last year, there was a particularly interesting
feature dubbed “well or not a well” and it can be finally be laid to rest, after reaching the bottom of the feature, that it is no longer considered a well. Although extremely deep, the feature did not quite reach the water table and deposits in the bottom layers have offered up other possibilities. On reaching the bottom, the fill texture and colour changed from a standard brown with chalk inclusions to a noticeable green and subsequent analysis of this layer revealed an extremely high level of phosphates, indicative of it being excrement. Within this was an extremely beautiful black burnished ware strainer pot, hypothesised as having medicinal purposes as seen here. Further down, a large black burnished ware jug was revealed with an associated chicken skeleton. The depositions of these whole pots and the skeleton were most likely deliberate and raise interesting questions as to why and the significance behind this.

There continues to be so many more interpretations being made and discoveries coming alight. With the new season of the Durotriges Project beginning, there is an abundant amount of information about the past that will be revealed!

To read more about the previous Durotriges Project excavations and to follow this year’s blog, make sure to keep checking out the official blog webpage.

Keep up to date with the Durotriges Project on Facebook and Twitter also.

To get actively involved with the site and see the archaeology for yourself, check out the Festival of Learning Big Dig Open Day on Thursday 12th June.

09/07/14 Update:

The Durotriges Project is drawing to a close for yet another year, with some ‘hugely significant’ discoveries being made, which could ‘rewrite British history’. Not just our words, but that of the Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the BBC.

As you may have already heard, five skeletons were discovered buried near the site of the Roman Villa, it’s thought that the two men and three women were the owners and occupiers of the villa in the mid 4th century.

This remarkable discovery has received coverage across the globe, and you can read more about it on the BBC, the Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Times.

The Big Dig Open Day: 13 July 2014 10.30 – 16.30

Bournemouth University and the owners of North West Farm in Winterborne Kingston are proud to welcome you to The Big Dig Open Day, giving you the chance to see some of this year’s discoveries. You will be able to take part in a guided tour, meet the team, talk to experts and hear about the significance of the five skeletons that were found this summer.

This excavation is revealing a great deal about the daily lives of the Durotriges, one of the Celtic tribes living in the area prior to the Roman invasion and it is hoped the new skeletons will reveal more about those living there during the Roman times.

The local brewery, chip shop and bakery based at the entrance to the farm will also be open!

There will be a shuttle bus service from the car park to the site.

Under 16s must be accompanied by adult.

Please remember to wear suitable footwear, and depending on the weather, please bring wet weather gear or sun screen.

Event location:

North West Farm
West Street
Winterborne Kingston
DT11 9AT

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