Adventures in Braughing

Firstly, the mystery of the “big pipe” at Verulamium has been solved,  It is a 12″ gas main.  I assume it is buried quite deeply, but has a massive magnetic signature which swamps the signal.

Last weekend saw us looking at the first of our sites at Braughing.  The area is well known for its Roman “small town” and its Iron Age remains although the pattern is quite complex.  The site appears to be “multifocal”, a posh way of saying there is stuff spread about all over the place.  The first site we examined at the suggestion of Mark Landon was in a smallish pasture which had recently been cut for hay.

Clare Lewis and I met with Mark on Saturday to lay in the grid.  We had put in two base points with the dGPS earlier in the year.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the second point, which was necessary as a backsight for the total station.  After over an hour of pulling up stinging nettles and troweling back the surface we gave up and I just guessed the backsight with the intention of laying out the grid which we could tie into the OS National Grid later.  The next day, ably assisted by members of the Braughing Archaeological Group, we looked again for the backsight point with no luck,  Just as we had finished for the day and were about to go home the point was finally found.  Ellen and I quickly surveyed in the grid pegs to get the actual OS grid references.  Much to our amazement we found that the pegs were between 5 and 25cm out.  “Good enough for government work”, as they say…

We had quite a team out on the Sunday,  Ruth Halliwell (WAS) and Keith Bradbury (CVAS) were helped by members of the Braughing Archaeological Group / East Herts Archaeological Society including Mark Landon, Caroline Baigent, Bridget Edgson, Richard Maddams, Carolyn Westlake and Anne Rowe.  As a result we managed nine grids and completed the entire field in a day.

The site lies under a meter of alluvium and so it was going to be a challenge to detect anything much.  There is clearly a site there, Mark pulled a piece of samian, an imbrex and a piece of coin mould out from the bank of the river,  The normal processing (see figure below) didn’t show too much.

The first site at Braughing, normal data processing.

The first site at Braughing, normal data processing.

There is one circular high magnetic feature which is probably an oven, as well as some rather mysterious linear features running across the site.  Jarrod Burks suggested a route for a more high contrast plot.
Higher contrast processing, with Mark's annotation.

Higher contrast processing, with Mark’s annotation.

I’m not sure I can see anything much else in the plot, although with the eye of faith — or is it optimism? — Mark wonders if the features he has marked with red dots might be a building. We have been spoiled at Six Acres and Verulamium with such clear results.  This sort of “ink blob” result is more usual!  Any guesses as to the linear features?  They look more like geology than archaeology to me, but any suggestions welcome.

This week sees us back in Verulamium Park.  The weekend is going to be busy with the Magna Carta celebrations in the Park.  We are not certain if we are going to be there Saturday or Sunday as yet, we will check the weather forecast later in the week.

As the harvest approaches we will be wanting to get onto our rural sites.  We are still in urgent need of people to take charge of the organisation of some of these including contacting landowners.  Can you help?



One thought on “Adventures in Braughing

  1. Pingback: Another day, another town | Sensing the Iron Age and Roman Past: Geophysics and the Landscape of Hertfordshire

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