Welcome to the Urban Archaeology blog. Freelance archaeologist Chiz Harward provides a range of on and offsite services to the archaeological profession, including running and working on excavations, post-excavation services, training and development work, and illustration work. This weblog will carry news of projects as and when they happen as well as wider thoughts on archaeological issues, especially recording, stratigraphy and training.



Water supply in Roman London: new research

Urban archaeology has just been awarded a generous grant by the City of London Archaeological Trust (CoLAT). The grant is to cover research into water supply in Roman London, using the eastern hill as a pilot study area. The project will examine excavated evidence and attempt to map the evolving systems of water supply, distribution and disposal throughout the Roman period using a GIS system. The resultant models will be then used to examine aspects of control and growth within the settlement over time.

Cheapside hoard illustrations


A few illustrations of pieces from a Late Saxon metalworker's hoard of over 40 unfinished pewter brooches, beads and rings found in a sewer heading in Cheapside, City of London in the 19th century (click on images to enlarge). They probably date to the 10th/11th century. These pieces, normally on display in The Museum of London, are not to be confused with a hoard of 17th-century jewelry commonly known as The Cheapside Hoard, some items of which are also in the Museum of London.

The large brooch was cast in one piece, and is directly paralled by a find from Dublin, almost certainly from the same mould.

The smaller brooches were made of twisted pewter wire within a surrounding wire ring and a central glass bead setting. This was all fixed in place by dipping the reverse of the brooch into molten pewter. The clasps were attached to the reverse whilst this was still hot, fusing the clasps to the brooch.

Fine metalwork like this needs careful and accurate illustration to show how the object was made, as well as what it looks like. The pieces have to be drawn to a level of detail where they can be compared with other published examples. The detailed examination necessary to understand how to illustrate the pieces also informs the wider research into the artefacts: here it was possible to tell which objects shared common moulds, and the sequence and method used to make the brooches.

PAS finds illustrations


Recent work has involved illustrating selected finds from the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Clockwise, from top left, a copper-alloy Roman branch, probably from a statuette; a fragment of a Bronze Age adzehead, probably broken up for scrap; a medieval copper-alloy strap end with incised decoration; and an 18th-century French clothseal from Calais (click on image to enlarge).