A brief introduction to

Latest Research Reports – April

This month we have a diverse collection of newly published reports containing the stories of kings, queens, giants, glassblowers and explosives – some sites have such a long and fascinating history that you can hardly believe it all occurred in one place!

As always, if you have any questions or queries about the reports series do not hesitate to contact me.

12/2013 – Surrey and Sussex: Chemical Analysis of Production Waste from Wealden Glasshouses

Production waste from Wealden Glasshouses

The scientific analysis of surface finds from selected Wealden glasshouse sites provides clear information as to the chemical composition of both glassmaking crucibles and glassworking waste. The aim of the study is to determine whether this information can be used to establish an approximate date for each site in relation to the arrival of Jean Carré’s immigrant glassworkers, c 1567, by looking for technical changes in both crucible construction and glass composition. This research forms part of the wider remit of the Wealden Glass Project (5299), funded by English Heritage and undertaken by Surrey Archaeological Unit. The project aims to locate and characterise the glasshouse sites in the region, in order to establish a sound framework for the management of these sites. Read more

Warbstow Bury, Warbstow, Cornwall: Archaeological Survey Report

Warbstow Bury, Cornwall
Warbstow Bury, Cornwall

Warbstow Bury is a multivallate hillfort in Warbstow, north Cornwall. It affords substantial views overlooking north Cornwall and the coast, and is one of the largest and best persevered hillforts in the county. The findings of this survey and investigation indicate that, in contrast to previous belief, the middle of three ramparts was most likely the first phase of construction. This is now lost in the east where it is overlain by the impressive inner rampart. There are entrances at the south-east and north-west which are thought to be original, although later modified. An inturned entrance on the south-east suggests controlled entry, although no evidence of the activities which took place within the hillfort in the Iron Age could be determined from the earthworks. It is possible that this phase of construction included facing the inner rampart with quartz, and enhancing the outer rampart with stone walling. However the stone wall may have been added when the ramparts were used as field boundaries in the 19th and 20th centuries.

An internal long mound has been interpreted as a pillow mound, as opposed to the burial place of Kind Arthur or Warbstow Giant as folklore suggests. This, and other slight earthworks which may relate to a beacon for Queen Victorian’s 1887 jubilee, overlie slight right and furrow in the interior. During the Second World War, two sentry boxes were terraced into the inner rampart where the Warbstow Home Guard could watch over the landscape for enemy aircraft. Read more

11/2011 – Curtis’s and Harvey Ltd Explosives Factory, Cliffe and Cliffe Woods, Medway: Archaeological Survey and Analysis of the Factory Remains

Curtis’s and Harvey Ltd Explosives Factory, Medway

Between November 2010 and January 2011 English Heritage undertook detailed archaeological survey and analysis of a former chemical explosives factory covering approximately 128 hectares of estuarine marshland in the north-west corner of the Hoo Peninsula, Medway. The study was undertaken as part of the wider Hoo Penisula Historic Landscape Project and presents a comprehensive record and analysis of the surface remains along with the first meticulous and accurate plan of the whole site and a detailed history of the factory. Initially, Hay, Merricks & Co set up a small-scale gunpowder storage facility here in 1892. Then in 1898, the site was acquired by Curtis’s & Harvey Ltd who quickly established a new chemical explosives factory. The works grew rapidly, and during the First World War it became a government-controlled establishment manufacturing a range of propellant and blasting explosives with a primary focus on producing naval cordite. It was a short-lived enterprise, closing around 1920 due to the post-war reduction in demand for munitions. The site is on land owned by the Port of London Authority and managed by tenant farmers. There is no public access to the site. Read more

23/2012 – Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire: Survey of Possible Elizabethan Stairs in Southwest Corner Tower of the Keep

Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire

The stairs are part of a theory regarding the rearrangement of the castle for Elizabeth’s visit in the late 16th century, and were intended to provide her with a directy route from her private suite through the main first-floor chamber of the keep and down to the passage into the gardens along the north side of the castle. The structure shows clearly that the first floor of the tower was a finished room with dressed-stone walls, but that the stonework from there down to the ground was a much rougher quality suggesting that it had been hollowed out of an originally solid lower level of the tower. Presumably it would have been dressed out in panelling or wall-hangings to hide the rough walls. The fact that the walls were not then fitted with dressed stone to match the areas above suggests that the work was a hurried effort for a particularly important visitor rather than a long-term change or design for the building. Read more

Kirsty Stonell Walker, Reports Administrator


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