May Gurney is to provide heavy equipment for an archaeological dig aimed at re-discovering what lies beneath the ancient Roman town of Caistor St Edmund.
The move comes 80 years after the contractor supported an excavation in the Norfolk town in 1929.
This year’s dig is aimed at discovering whether Caistor St Edmund occupies the site of an even older settlement.
May Gurney chief executive Philip Fellowes-Prynne said: “We’re delighted to repeat our support for the excavation, 80 years since we first helped out.
“We’ll be supplying wheelbarrows, spades, shovels and other tools to help the archaeological team discover what lies beneath Caistor St Edmund. It’s extremely intriguing and we’re looking forward to seeing what they uncover at this very important historical site.”
The dig will be lead by Dr Will Bowden, associate professor of Roman archaeology at the University of Nottingham.
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06Apr90 UK: ROSEHAUGH STANHOPE FUNDS THE LARGEST AND MOST EXHAUSTIVE ARCHAEOLOGICAL DIG UNDERTAKEN IN LONDON. (3 OF 3)
5 April 1990CNPLUS
Ludgate is the largest and most exhaustive excavation ever undertaken in London - and one of the most complex development projects. The critical path is such as to almost defy analysis, and the constraints of the agreement with BR leave Rosehaugh Stanhope with very little leeway.The old viaduct has to come down, and the railway re-routed under the site, or nothing happens.So when, in August 1989, the museum team uncovered the medieval city wall, still more than 12ft high, running across the path of the tunnel, the potential for conflict was enormous.The wall, an extension to the west to include the precincts of Blackfriars monastery, was one of the best preserved ancient monuments found in the City in the last decade.Compared with the dubious rubble of the Rose Theatre, it was pretty impressive. But after it had been recorded and photographed, it was pulled down without a murmur.Bill McCann, the museum's project co-ordinator, admits to having a tear in his eye as he watched it tumble.The museum had lobbied the DoE to save the wall but when that failed had to accept the logic of its destruction.Another sizeable chunk of wall to the east of the tunnel is to be preserved in situ and possibly displayed as part of the Ludgate development.Mr McCann feels it is important to work at the archaeologist/developer relationship.'After all,' he says, 'potentially we can be a pain in the neck to the other contractors. We have weekly meetings with them and monthly meetings with the developer to iron out any problems.'But,' he adds, 'our job is easier because the developer is interested in archaeology anyway. It's not just a public relations exercise.'Steve Moschini, Rosehaugh Stanhope's project manager at Ludgate, is equally glowing in his opinion of the museum. But, he says, archaeology is 'sometimes unpredictable. Then it's a matter of give and take on both sides.'He points out that, where burial grounds are uncovered, the archaeologists have a statutory duty to deal with the bodies. 'We just have to let them get on with it,' he says.Apart from a couple of Roman roads, the discovery of 17 Anglo-Saxon skeletons - of which only three had skulls - has been one of the earliest significant finds, dating from about AD 950.Although the first St Paul's was built in the seventh century, it had always been believed that the Saxons left the Roman city to crumble and settled westwards on the Strand, and up towards Covent Garden. The Fleet discoveries help throw doubt on this.Why the skulls are missing is still a mystery, and unlikely ever to be solved. Speculation plays a large part in archaeology - the nature of the job is to interpret whole buildings from rubble and foundations; whole ways of life from their old shoes and crockery - but only within rigidly defined limits.Imagine if, heaven forfend, Richard Rogers' Lloyd's building was to be junked and forgotten.What would anyone make of it - perhaps with nothing to go on but the twisted metal of the lift shaft, and a skeleton still clutching a personal organiser? Imagination has to play a part.But the scientific key is an absolutely meticulous recording of what is found; every bone or button is plotted into a three dimensional plan of the site, the soils carefully analysed to work out where the deposits of one feature are overlaid with another: a pattern of nails, a sooty layer, could reveal where a building has burnt down.And historical research - perhaps the records of planning battles and disputes over titles - can throw further light on things.The discovery of part of the foundations of the Fleet Canal by Mr McCann and his team, built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1670, was confirmed by the original inventory of materials drawn up by the contractor.Foundations, basements, wells, burial grounds and privies (one of the most unusual finds at Ludgate was a three-seater oak toilet); any clue to the past is meat and drink to archaeology.Besides the diggers on the three trenches currently being excavated at Ludgate (there will be almost 40 in all), there are conservationists preserving wood and leather, and environmentalists sifting the soil for clues to how the geology of the Fleet area has changed.And when everyone has packed up and gone, there will still be years of research to make sense of it all.But why? What's the point? Oddly, Mr Moschini has a quicker answer than Mr McCann.He says: 'It's enormously interesting. It may cost money, but you can't just obliterate your history. We're only here for a short time and at some point in the future hopefully there'll be other people doing the same for us.'
06Apr90 UK: ROSEHAUGH STANHOPE FUNDS THE LARGEST AND MOST EXHAUSTIVE ARCHAEOLOGICAL DIG UNDERTAKEN IN LONDON. (2 OF 3)
5 April 1990CNPLUS
Within the expanse of London's Ludgate Hill redevelopment, stretching from Holborn Viaduct almost to the Thames, lay the remaining substantial plot of blitzed London. Until last year it was just a car park beside the railway viaduct, a forgotten reminder of past destruction.Now it has been swept away, as Rosehaugh Stanhope Developments prepares to re-route the railway underground and turn the airspace into almost 600,000 sq ft of offices, shops and restaurants.On site, along with the contractors, are a small army of archaeologists, recording the final destruction of 2,000 years of slowly accumulating historical sediments.On occasions, more than 100 people have been working there, on London's most expensive archaeologist dig ever. It is costing more than £2 million but not a penny of it is taxpayers' money.It is the coffers of Rosehaugh Stanhope, which, along with those of other major developers, which are funding the Museum of London's rescue archaeology work - to the tune of more than £3 million last year.The archaeologists call it the Fleet Valley Project - commemorating the river that until the 18th century, flowed into the Thames at that point.In Roman times it flowed through a wild ravine, but by the Middle Ages, lined with tanneries and wharves, it was little more than an open sewer.The monks of nearby Whitefriars monastery complained that even incense could not keep out the stench.It's just as well for Rosehaugh Stanhope's prestige office development that the odiferous Fleet has long since vanished underground. But for the archaeologists this is a final opportunity to uncover the long history of the ill-fated river and the people who lived and worked along it.The cut-and-cover tunnel that will carry the railway under the offices and shops of the Ludgate scheme will obliterate 2,000 years of historical evidence.Without the developer's commitment to funding the Museum of London's excavations, this important site would go unrecorded.Godfrey Bradman, head of Rosehaugh, and Stuart Lipton, Stanhope's boss, have been instrumental in building up the network of voluntary agreements which link London's Archaeologists and Developers Liaison Group, which in 1986 published the ground-breaking code of practice that lays down the ground rules for negotiations and contracts.'Despite the heavy commercial pressures under which developers work,' says the code, 'a realistic understanding between archaeologists and developers on a voluntary basis can achieve the results that are as good as ... those based on the requirements of Part II of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.' The 1979 Act is the key.The last dying gasp of the Callaghan Government, it is a muddy and unpredictable bit of legislation which has never been properly tested in court.The Department of the Environment is unwilling to invoke it and the developers to provoke it - so, in London at least, a happy compromise has been reached.The archaeology is paid for by thedeveloper, who gets good publicity and peace of mind; and the archaeologists agree to work within the terms of their contract - not to hinder other contractors and to complete the work in a pre-agreed time.In more than 350 excavations and watching briefs in the past 15 years the museum has never broken an agreement.
7 June 1990CNPLUS
A new heritage centre is under construction in Dover on the site of Roman ruins. However, history is being preserved, not destroyed, by the development. Construction News reports. Dover has long been a centre of maritime excellence.White today it is the largest passenger ferry port in Europe, almost 2,000 years ago it was the centre of the Roman Empire's Fleet Operations in north-west Europe - the Classis Britannica.With such a history it is not surprising that Dover District council has started a project to highlight the town's heritage.Over a two-year contract period Bovis is building a tourist attraction in the town which will feature aspects of the town's history.The £8.5 million White Cliffs Experience, as the building will be known, will be a combination of old and new - foundation systems which support the new structure have been designed around the foundations and superstructures of Roman ruins, and new glazed galleries will overlook an ancient Norman Church and parts of the ancient fortresses.To ensure that the new centre would not damage or jeopardise any of the site's ancient ruins, the council enlisted the services of the Oxford Archaeological Unit.Working with the project's construction and foundation teams, the unit helped to establish the exact locations of the old ruins.Preparatory site works began in january last year when some existing buildings were demolished and large sections of old ruins were exposed and protected. Piling works, carried out by Fairclough Piling and Marine, began in May.The piling systems was designed to support completely the building's rc frame, including the heavily reinforced ground floor slab. This means future archaeological digs could be carried out under the centre without the need to install any extra support systems.A continuous flight auger method was chosen to install the piles as this method was considered unlikely to cause any damage to the ruins.A probe rig, with a 50 mm stake was used to test the ground in each pile position before the augering took place. If the probe stake met with high resistance, the pile position was excavated and investigated and the pile repositioned if the obstruction proved to be archaeological.Over a six-week period, a total of 167 cast-in-situ 600 mm diameter piles were installed to depths of up to 23 m.Because of the locations of the ancient buildings on the site, the shape of the White Cliffs Experience is unusual. The building's two main facades are dominated by two sweeping curves - one through almost 180 degrees and one through almost 90 degrees.In the area enclosed by the 180 degree curving facade, the gates and ramparts of the first Roman fort built on the site will be exposed. In addition to these 2nd Century ruins, parts of the Roman-built Saxon Shore Fort wall, constructed in the 3rd Century, will be exposed.On the other side of the building, the foundations and part of the superstructure of an 11th Century Norman church will be exposed. Both the Roman fort ruins and the Norman Church will be seen from within tubular steel-framed,fully-glazed, gallery structures running along the building's faces.The building's main frame is being built in reinforced concrete and about 450 tonnes of reinforcing steel and 1,500 cu m of concrete will be used in construction. The facades of the building are being clad in handmade Gloucester grey brick.The only area of the building where the main frame is not reinforced concrete is the circular theatre building housing the Time and Tide Show. Here, the three-level, 8.5 m diameter building is being built in structural brickwork which supports reinforced concrete slabs. The main floor slabs are to be built with edge-stiffening sections rather than edge beams.The structural engineer on the project is YRM Anthony Hunt Associates.
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Demolition means noise, dust and some awesome machinery of destruction, doesn't it? Well, sort of. But these days there's more to it than that. As Paul Thompson discovers, the sector is gaining a degree of finesse as the archaeologists move in