8th June update

The team at the Hub on Thursday morning: Danielle shows students how to mark pottery.
Cleaning back in Trench 15
Marking last year’s pottery with Torquay Museum accession number, Ipplepen site code and archaeological context number


The team at the Hub on Thursday morning: Kristen shows students the pottery handling collection.

Due to a rainy start first thing, our students and volunteers headed to the Hub at Ipplepen Methodist Church where Stephen Rippon, Kristen Leith and Danielle Wootton talked to the students and volunteers about identifying different types of pottery and pottery marking. Working with the handling collection, students tried their hand at sorting pottery into finewares and coarsewares and identifying fragments of rims, body sherds and handles.

Then, using a fine nib and ink, students and volunteers carefully marked pottery from last year’s excavation, which had previously been washed, dried, bagged and labelled. The pottery is marked with the accession number allocated by Torquay Museum, along with the site code from last year and the archaeological context number. Marking individual pieces of pottery is a painstaking but necessary task, enabling the each pottery sherd to be linked to the site and archaeological context within which it was found.

Stephen Rippon took groups around the Hub exhibition, showing the team the finds from this year’s excavation which are now on display there.

The skies brightened after lunch so the team headed back to site to continue cleaning back our three trenches which were opened up on Monday. Before excavating any archaeological features, the team will make a scale drawing of each trench in plan. We have started to plan trench 13, and hope to plan trench 14 and 15 by the end of the week.

First finds of the excavation!

First finds of 2017! Amphora handle fragment (right) and queen stone fragment (left).

Hello everyone, a quick update- this year has started where last year finished off! We have discovered an amphora handle fragment within the cleaning layer (ie not yet within an archaeological feature) which would have been used to store and transport food products such as wine or olive oil. The amphora would have been made in the Mediterranean area, demonstrating further evidence of the contact Devon had with the wider Roman world. We have also discovered a fragment of a quern stone, used for grinding grain into flour. Both objects have been whisked off site to go on display at the Hub, Ipplepen Methodist Church on East Street where visitors can see them now! Do drop in today to see the latest finds from Ipplepen village!

2017 excavation is underway!

Our 2017 excavation season is underway! Welcome to our first 2017 excavation blog- we will be bringing news of the Ipplepen Archaeological Project’s 2017 excavation, events, updates, notes on finds and so on throughout June.

Today was a very rainy start to the season but we have successfully opened up our three trenches which we’ll be excavating for the next month. We started by machining off the turf and topsoil to a depth of around 50cm and then the team began straightening trench edges and then cleaning back the trench surfaces with trowels to enable us to see any archaeological features. A big hello to all the team including Exeter University students and local volunteers who braved the heavy rain today- and learned quite quickly that archaeology isn’t always as glamorous as it sounds!

We have also set up our displays today at the Hub at Ipplepen Methodist Church on East Street and will open the doors to the public tomorrow at 10am. Please do pop in to find out more about this season’s excavation. The Hub will be open weekdays 10am- 4pm until 29th June.

We hope you’ll enjoy following our blog throughout the excavation!

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!

Important Dates for your Diaries

Hello everyone,
we are now entering the final stages of preparations for this year’s excavations at Ipplepen. Here are some important dates for your diaries.

The excavation will run from Monday 5th to Friday 30th June, 2017. It is on private land but you can still keep in touch with what we are up to through this Blog, and by visiting the Hub and the Open Day:

OPEN DAY: this will be on Sunday 25th June, 10.30 to 3.30; there will be signposts and marshals to direct you to the site from Ipplepen village and the main road.

HUB: the information centre at the community café at the Methodist Church in Ipplepen Village will be open Mondays to Fridays, 10-4.

Video of 3D Scanning

You may be interested to know that we have just uploaded a new video on to the Ipplepen web page.

This video shows Graham Fereday and Rich Webb from the University of Exeter Digital Humanities team 3D scanning some of the human skulls excavated on site during 2014. The video was taken by Sean Goddard. Some of the resulting 3D models can be viewed here or on the Sketchfab website

When we first excavated the skulls during 2014 and 2015, many of them were revealed to be in a delicate state of preservation due to the presence of acidic soils on site. Nevertheless, with the help of the Digital Humanities team we were able to develop a new excavation strategy. We delicately block lifted the skulls and subsequently carefully and skilfully excavated them in the labs here in the Archaeology Department.

The Digital Humanities team were then able to 3D scan the skulls for us creating a permanent record for the archives. This has allowed the preservation of key morphological features that allow us to determine sex and age. It also enables future researchers to examine and re-evaluate the skulls and allows the creation of a 3D print that can be handled by students in the classroom and the public at open days.

Also, importantly, it now allows us to remove the remaining acidic soils from inside the skulls in order to better preserve and curate the surviving bone fragments.

John Davey