Tag Archives: Chesters

Arbeia Conference 2015

Arbeia Conference 2015: Balnea, roman baths and bathing in the northern frontier zone: another side of military life.

The last few years have seen extensive excavations on bath-houses at Wallsend, Binchester and Chester-le-Street. The results have been spectacular, especially at Binchester where one of the best-preserved buildings in Roman Britain has been revealed. All these new discoveries will be described, together with new research on the baths at Chesters and at Bearsden on the Antonine Wall. Speakers will include Paul Bidwell, David Breeze, Nick Hodgson, Michael Lee, David Mason, Margaret Snape and Graeme Stobbs.

For further information and booking details click: Arbeia_Conference_2015_flyer





Newcastle University Projects

 Newcastle University Projects

– The Clayton Collection; an untapped resource

-The Roman Temples Project

Bronze Age combat: An experimental approach
Integrating historic landscape research and spatial planning to develop a sustainable cultural heritage management



The Clayton Collection; an untapped resource

The material displayed at the museum in Chesters, Northumberland was mainly collected by John Clayton between 1840 and 1890. He excavated at Chesters and at many other sites along Hadrian’s Wall, often buying land to save the Wall to advance its study. The collection ranges from inscriptions to dress accessories, jet items to weaponry and pottery to keys, including objects of stone, metal, bone, glass and ceramic. The current museum inventory has over 13, 000 records.

I am currently working part time on a PhD to look at this material. Clayton worked long before the advent of detailed contextual recording and mapping. Some of the records that he did produce have since been lost. This makes a detailed contextual analysis of artefacts within the collection difficult but it is still possible to learn a great deal from what survives. Methods of analysis and profiling, not to mention typologies, have been developed for various classes of artefacts, and these can be employed for the Clayton Collection. Case studies will be carried out on certain parts of the collection to look in further detail. These will include militaria, brooches, ironwork and the material from Chesters alone.

My first chapter has analysed the militaria– the small finds associated with the military. This has thrown up many issues in the definition of what is a military object. For example, cart fittings and harness could equally be used by civilians as by soldiers. However some items are simpler to assign to the military sphere and I will discuss two of these briefly. The Clayton Collection has thirteen crossbow brooches, of which eight are from Chesters. Now whilst this may not seem a huge number, six of these are of the ‘developed’ later type and South Shields is the only other Hadrian’s Wall site with more (nine). Crossbow brooches were worn as markers of status by military and official personnel, does the higher number at Chesters reflect the status of the soldiers stationed there perhaps?

Chesters also has an unusually high number of spear heads, 62 in fact. Compare this to the total of the Museum of Antiquities Collection (as was) of 18, and South Shields which has only four.  The unit based at Chesters for most of its use was the Ala II Asturia, a Spanish Cavalry unit. Although spears (of some form) were used by infantry, cavalrymen had a long spear (contus) as well as at least two javelins held in a quiver on their back. The high number of spear heads from Chesters could well indicate the frequent use of spears by the cavalry.

I am only half way through my PhD and so have much more to discover about the collection, but even with just this one case study I hope I have demonstrated the value of analysing these older collections.

Frances McIntosh. PhD student at Newcastle University and Curator of Roman Collections, English Heritage.

-The Roman Temples Project

Prof Ian Haynes and Tony Wilmott

To view a report on this project click here: CBA The Roman Temples Project.

Bronze Age combat: An experimental approach
Project Leader: Dr Andrea Dolfini (Newcastle University). Team: Rachel Crellin, Kate Anderson, Raphael Hermann and Jon Allison

To view a report on this project click here: Bronze Age combat CBA north.

Integrating historic landscape research and spatial planning to develop a sustainable cultural heritage management

Niels Dabaut, Sam Turner, Veerle Van Eetvelde

To view a report on this project click here: CBA_North_NielsDabaut.