Abbotskerswell Primary School visit, Friday 19th May

Some of the wonderful artwork produced by Kingfisher class at Abbotskerswell Primary School. Artwork by all pupils will be on display at the Hub, Ipplepen Methodist Church, weekdays 6th- 29th June.

Abbotskerswell Primary School visit, Friday 19th May

Last Friday, Danielle Wootton visited Abbotskerswell Primary School to talk to Kingfisher, a class of 32 pupils from classes 4, 5, and 6, about the excavations at Ipplepen. The class learned about what had been discovered at Ipplepen, and discussed methods of food production in the Romano-British period, examining what plants were available to grow as crops, and how food was prepared, stored, and traded around the Roman world. The class also participated in a Roman food quiz, examined real and replica Roman pottery and tried a Roman ‘feast’. Kingfisher have been learning about Mayans with Mrs Kerswell, so we also discussed the similarities and differences between Roman and Mayan foods.

In the art section of the workshop, pupils chose a theme relating to Romano-British food such as growing crops, foraging, honey, food storage and cooking. The photo (above) is an example of some of the fantastic artwork produced by the class during the workshop. Artwork from both Abbotskerswell and Ipplepen Primary Schools will be on display at the Hub at Ipplepen Methodist Church, weekdays from 6th– 29th June.

Danielle also had the opportunity to talk about the excavations with the headmaster and other teachers, and we hope to find a way to involve Abbotskerswell Primary more in the future!

Visit to Ipplepen Primary School, Thursday 18th May

Visit to Ipplepen Primary School, Thursday 18th May

On Thursday, the Project Team visited Ipplepen Primary School to deliver an afternoon workshop. Working with Class 4, Danielle Wootton gave a lesson on the types of food that would have been available to people living in the Ipplepen area during the Romano-British period. Pupils then used resource boxes to examine Roman pottery, and then had a ‘Roman feast’ trying foods which would have been eaten around 2,000 years ago.
During the second half of the workshop, Class 4 participated in a painting workshop, led by Sands School art teacher, support staff, and Sands school pupils. Class 4 used themes based around Romano-British food production such as farming, foraging, keeping animals and trade as inspiration for their paintings. The artwork will go on display at the Hub, Ipplepen Methodist Church, during weekdays from June 6th to 29th June.
Here are some quotes from Class 4:
‘It’s brilliant and amazing!’
‘I loved exploring what it was like in Roman times and trying their food.’
‘The best thing was the tasting- it was delicious especially the cheese and honey.’
‘Archaeology is amazing in every way.’
‘I learned they didn’t have tomatoes or pineapples!’
‘When we did the quiz, I found out what food existed in Roman times. I didn’t know about food in Roman times before.’
‘I learned more than I’ve ever heard before about the Romans and love the activities we did.’

19 school pupils participated in the workshop and 3 Sands school students generously came along to help. We look forward to seeing Ipplepen Primary school pupils on their visit to our excavation in June.

Archaeology workshop at Sands School

Visit to Sands School, Ashburton 17th May 2017

Sands School pupils using pottery moulds. May 2017

On Wednesday, Danielle Wootton visited Sands School in Ashburton to join staff and students in a discussion about the significance of the archaeological discoveries at Ipplepen. With the history, english and art teachers, Sands students examined real and replica artefacts, discussed Romano-British food and breadmaking, and explored the different ways of making pottery vessels.
As we’ve found fragments of Samian Ware (a type of Roman pottery) at Ipplepen, Sands students tried their hand at producing bowls using moulds, in the way that Samian Ware was produced in the Roman period. The clay was then left to dry and shrink, allowing it to be safely removed from the mould. The bowls will be heated in a kiln- we look forward to seeing the completed masterpieces!
Here are a few comments from students about Danielle’s visit:
‘It was fun, interesting and amazing!’
‘I liked making pottery the best. My favourite is the Roman drinking cup- I like the handles- it’s a different way of picking up cups’. [Referring to a beaker with indented handles]
‘My little brother wants to be an archaeologist.. now I can tell him all about what I’ve been doing today. I liked learning about the dropped coins because when you hold one, it’s like shaking hands with a Roman’.
Thank you, Sands School- we look forward to seeing you soon!

Last chance to see finds!

Dear Blog followers,

Last chance (for the time being!) to see our amazing Roman pottery finds from this season before they go to the University to be processed and analysed. Our display case is now full and includes decorated Samian ware depicting human figures (our very own ‘Ipplepen archer’!). We’re at the Hub in Ipplepen Methodist Church until Thursday afternoon.

Hope to see you there!

Last chance to see 2016 finds!

Dear Blog followers,

Last chance (for the time being!) to see our amazing Roman pottery finds from this season before they go to the University to be processed and analysed. Our display case is now full and includes decorated Samian ware depicting human figures (our very own ‘Ipplepen archer’!). We’re at the Hub in Ipplepen Methodist Church until Thursday afternoon.

Hope to see you there!


2016 excavation day 1 (6th June)

Calypso and Lowenna with one of the diplays
Calypso and Lowenna with one of the diplays

Students and volunteers were briefed on the background of the site, health and safety and excavation protocol whilst the topsoil was removed and we came down onto archaeological deposits. After lunch, the whole team then began to clean back the area very carefully which will enable us to define archaeological features.

The Hub
We also set up our community information point at the Hub in Ipplepen Methodist Church. Our Hub displays look really good- please do pop in and see them. This year’s intern is Calyspo, who will be based at the Hub to explain the displays, help with children’s activities and provide daily updates about the excavation.

Thankyou to our students Calypso and Lowenna and Maria from Ipplepen Methodist Church for all their help putting up the Hub displays!

Good Morning all! Fieldwork season 2016 starts today!

Good Morning all! Today is the first day of our fieldwork season 2016. Everything is set up and ready to go- our local volunteers and students will arrive at 9am, the trench is all marked out and we’ll begin taking the turf off and then cleaning back soon. Very exciting!

Just about to do a live interview with BBC Radio Devon on the Simon Bates show on 103.4 fm / 95.7 fm digital.

Will be back to update you all with today’s progress.

Local school students make ‘Roman bread’ based on ancient grains found on our excavation

Breadmakers Emma and Iona with Sands school pupils
Breadmakers Emma and Iona with Sands school pupils

As we have discovered ancient grains of wheat, barley and oats at Ipplepen (see our earlier ‘Cereals’ post), we decided to try to make our own ‘Roman’ bread in a secondary school workshop last week.

Breadmaker Emma Parkin (from Emma’s Bread, Exeter), archaeologist Danielle Wootton and students from Sands School in Ashburton, Devon, spent an afternoon making Roman bread in an experimental archaeology workshop. Our aim was to replicate a loaf of bread discovered in an oven at Pompeii, whilst using flours made from similar grains to the ancient grains we have discovered at the Ipplepen excavation.

We used wholemeal wheat flour and spelt flour and then added a sourdough starter (the starter was made by Emma the night before). This was all mixed together, kneaded and then left to rise for about an hour in the sun.  The dough was then kneaded into shape. It was then stamped using clay stamps made by Sands School students. Next, string was tied around the centre. (Roman bread is characteristically ‘pinched’ inwards around the centre, and we think this was achieved by tying string around it). We wondered whether the ‘pinching’ around the centre may have helped it to bake more easily in the middle. Also, by using the same length of string, the breadmaker could ensure the loaves were all about the same size. The string, with a loop tied at the end, was possibly used for carrying or hanging the bread when it had been baked. We could imagine many loaves of bread being carried by their strings on poles back to a busy household- much easier than trying to carry it all under your arms.

The bread was then baked in an oven at a very high temperature for around 40 minutes (the Romans would have used a wood-fired oven, much like wood-fired pizza ovens today). 

This was our first attempt- there’s always room for improvement – but we think our bread looks quite a lot like the Roman loaf from Pompeii. It tasted great too! Whilst the bread was quite heavy (we used wholemeal flour and didn’t use yeast to make it rise- only the traditional sourdough starter) we decided it would have been very filling and was probably healthier as there were no preservatives or added sugar. The Sands School students then took their bread into a workshop at Ipplepen Primary School.. details of which will follow in a later post.

Why was the bread stamped? 

The stamps in the bread could be used as an ‘advertisement’ for the breadmaker- much like a maker’s mark on various products today. Also, not everyone had their own oven, so people would make the dough and ask the local baker to bake it for them. Stamping bread with your own mark would help you find your bread amongst all the other loaves in the baker’s oven. Our clay stamps worked quite well- we think we will apply a bit of oil to the stamp next time to see if it makes the impression clearer.  Local breadmaker Emma is now intrigued with how bread (and breadstamps) were made in ancient times (watch this space…).

12 school pupils directly participated in making the bread and other students (school total 70) came to watch our progress throughout the afternoon and to try the bread at the end of the day.

Members of public invited to excavation Open Day on Saturday 25th June 2016, 10.30am – 3.30pm

Members of the public are invited to join us at our Open Day on Saturday 25th June from 10.30am to 3.30pm.

There will be guided tours of the excavation- your chance to see archaeology close-up, as well as history related stalls and re-enactment groups who will be bringing the site to life with ‘living history’ displays.

Iron Age group Dumnonika, and Roman groups the the Vicus and Isca Romans will be on hand for people to see what life was life was like at the site around 2000 years ago. University of Exeter students will give guided tours of the excavation and reveal our latest findings from the 2016 fieldwork. Refreshments will also be available. All welcome! Further details will be published on this blog nearer the time.

In 2015 we had a fantastic open day with 930 visitors who provided great feedback such as: ‘Three generations of our family – grandparents in their 60s, daughter 40ish and two granddaughters aged 10 and 7 – went to the exhibition and Open Day at the Ipplepen excavation last Summer and enjoyed a really wonderful time. It inspired the youngest to choose her experience as the basis for her school project. This is what Rowan (age 7) wrote about the day for her class Roman project, which she decided to do about Roman roads :
“Last summer I visited a newly discovered Roman road near Ipplepen in Devon. We were given a tour of the site and I spotted a piece of Roman pottery in the ground. (Rowan was excited to have the first eyes to notice this in more than 1500 years). They had an extra field where you buy food and they set up Roman stalls and did a Roman re-enactment. ”
Her mother Sam adds: “I would like to say it was one of our most enjoyable days of the summer. Really interesting insight into the archaeological work and finds, and the display in Ipplepen village hall was great. The day was lovely, with food and entertainment and stalls and lovely people doing really interesting tours.
Thank you – please do it again!”
”And the grandparents had a marvellous time learning more about the Romans and Roman civilisation in Devon, especially from the friendly people staffing the exhibition in the Hub at Ipplepen Methodist Church and running the tours of the site.
It was a delight to watch our family become enthusiasts for archaeology.’

Thankyou Rowan and family- we look forward to seeing you again this year, and look forward to welcoming everyone to the open day. See you all on June 25th!

Residents invited to join Exeter archaeologists in unearthing Devon’s past.

Applications are now welcome for the 2016 Ipplepen field season (from Monday 6th June to Friday 1st July). Participants must enjoy working outdoors in all weathers and must commit to spending a week at the site. To apply, email by 9am on Monday, 16 May with a covering letter of no more than 200 words explaining why you would like to be considered and stating a preference for weeks 1, 2 or 3. Participants with previous experience are encouraged to apply for week 4.