BaRAS 2011 Fieldwork

The following represents a select list of projects undertaken by Bristol & Region Archaeological Services during 2011.

Index of Archaeological Projects

Cossham Memorial Hospital, Lodge Road, Kingswood, Bristol (ST 64238 74555)

Cossham Hospital in East Bristol, otherwise known as the Cossham Memorial Hospital, was recorded to English Heritage level 2 standard prior to extensive refurbishment of the main block and selective demolition of subsidiary structures in the grounds. Photographic recording was accompanied by annotation of modern surveyors’ drawings, with additional reference to Francis Bligh Bond’s 1903 design and subsequent alterations drawings. The work followed on from an earlier detailed desk-based assessment by Townsend (BaRAS). Mainly constructed from Pennant rubble with Bath stone dressings, augmented by brickwork, this imposing public building was created in memory of the late Handel Cossham, land and coal mine owner, under the terms of his will. Opened on Saturday June 1st 1907, and on a prominent site visible from miles around, this functioned as a district hospital, in which cause it will continue after reopening.

a floor panel at cossham hospital depicting the medical symbol of twin snakes entwined around a staff

A decorative panel in the main entrance lobby showing the medical symbol, derived from Greek myth, of twin snakes around a staff

BHER: 24858, OASIS ID: bristola1-73413

John Bryant

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The Lord Rodney, Two Mile Hill Road, St George, Bristol (ST 63495 73792)

The disused Lord Rodney public house was recorded to English Heritage Level 2 standard prior to its proposed removal. Photographic recording was accompanied by annotation of a specially-commissioned survey consisting of floor plans and elevations. The Rodney was sited at the top of a long climb out from central Bristol and would have been an excellent point at which to rest and water the horses. It may have had its present name since c.1782 – 98. The mainly two-storey rubble-built structure was probably erected in the 18th century, with additions northwards and eastwards during the 19th and early-mid 20th centuries. Slag blocks produced as a by-product of the local brass industry were used in some of the additions. Partial cellarage at basement level was included within the rear of the building. Service rooms were placed within the rear range, with facilities such as stables and a coach house at the eastern end. A trough and pump were provided outside for the horses.

BHER: 25021 OASIS ID: bristola1-104674

John Bryant

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Nos. 64-70 West Street, Bedminster, Bristol (ST 5815 7123)

A watching brief was undertaken on this site, which had previously been evaluated by BaRAS in 2005. A demolition layer lying directly over solid bedrock was evidence for earlier landscaping/levelling of the site, and would have obliterated any surviving archaeology.

BHER: 25023 OASIS ID: bristola1-105343

Roy Krakowicz

Cotham Grammar School, Cotham, Bristol (ST 58400 74000)

A watching brief was undertaken during landscaping works in the playing field at Cotham Grammar School. A 19th-century stone wall and a brick-lined drain were uncovered. These are likely to have been associated with a mid-19th-century villa known as Cotham Lawn.

BHER: 25005 OASIS ID: bristola1-100655

Gary Baddeley

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No. 51 Barton Road, St Philips, Bristol (ST 5999 7280)

A watching brief carried out during groundworks revealed truncated natural bedrock overlain by up to 3m of made ground. Historic maps show a number of clay pits in the area, and it is possible that the site may have been stripped of natural clay and backfilled prior to its development in the early 19th century.

A number of walls and yard surfaces relating to 19th-century buildings were also uncovered. Cartographic evidence indicates that the site was first developed in the 1830s or 40s, and by 1914 one of the buildings functioned as a beer house known as the Railway Tavern. This establishment closed in the 1960s and by 1972 it had been demolished and replaced with a warehouse.

BHER: 25000 OASIS ID: bristola1-100403

Gary Baddeley

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Cossham Hospital, Lodge Road, Kingswood, Bristol (ST 64238 74555)

A watching brief was carried out during the redevelopment of Cossham Hospital. Topsoil overlay truncated natural deposits of clay, sandstone and coal. The extensive horizontal truncation evident across the site is likely to be associated with the construction of Cossham Hospital in 1905.

A coal shaft of unknown date was discovered in the north-west corner of site. Coal mining was practised in the area from at least the late 18th century with the shafts still visible until the late 19th century. No other features or deposits of archaeological significance were observed.

cossham hospital

External view of Cossham Hospital, at Kingswood, Bristol

BHER: 24859 OASIS ID: bristola1-73420

Gary Baddeley

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Nos 204 – 222 Avonvale Road, Barton Hill, Bristol (ST 60964 73020)

A watching brief on the site of the former shops adjoining Ashmead House uncovered a number of post-medieval structures relating to the development of the Barton Hill area in the 19th century. Three former roads (Beaufort Road, Beaufort Avenue and Church Street) crossed the site. Remains of the largest, Beaufort Road, constructed in the early 19th-century, were identified in two separate areas of the site. Cartographic evidence shows a trackway on the same alignment dating from at least 1610. Any archaeological record of this phase was lost by the construction of the road.

A number of mid to late 19th-century buildings were also found, comprising stone cellar walls and foundations, and brick walls. A brick, vaulted cellar roof was also discovered. These structures are indicative of the development of the Barton Hill area at that time and by the late 19th-century the site area had become dense with terraced housing and commercial buildings such as the cotton factory just to the south. The area was regenerated in the 1960s. Made ground is still present across much of the site with potential for 19th-century structures to have survived beneath these deposits.

BHER: 24929 OASIS ID: bristola1-79364

Gary Baddeley

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Masons Arms Public House, Lawrence Weston Road, Bristol (ST 54939 78514)

An evaluation was carried out at the former site of the Masons Arms Public House and its garden. BaRAS were commissioned to undertake archaeological work prior to construction of residential units with associated landscaping, roads and services.

The evaluation revealed masonry and associated contexts at the south-east end of one trench. Examination of the historic maps of the area indicates that the masonry was probably part of the foundations of terraced houses built on the site between 1772 and 1838. Another trench revealed the earliest features found on site — a number of pits and ditches cut into the natural and overlain by a layer containing medieval pottery. At this time interpretation as some form of water–management system seems the most likely explanation.

BHER: 24995 OASIS ID: bristola1-99320

Simon Roper

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No. 40 Coombe Lane, Westbury-On-Trym, Bristol (ST 56255 76691)

A watching brief was undertaken within the grounds of the site also known as the Red House or Red House Farm.

No features or deposits of archaeological significance were observed during the intrusive groundworks. The lack of archaeological deposits may indicate that any structural remains related to outbuildings of the Red House did not extend into the application area. The orchard, which was present on the site from the early 19th century, may well have been established much earlier when the Red House was first built.

BHER: 24979 OASIS ID: bristola1-106115

Simon Roper

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Netham Lock, Netham, Bristol (ST 61594 72702)

A programme of archaeological recording was carried out during the lifting and replacement of Netham Lock gates. The lock, gates, lock sides and the Lock Keeper’s Cottage are all Grade II listed structures. The site forms the connection between the Feeder Canal and the River Avon which at this point run east to west, and is bounded to the south by Feeder Road, to the east by the two bridges of Netham Road and to the north by Netham Park. The upper section of the lock sits at 9.2m aOD and the lower section of the gate at 8.1m aOD.

The lock gates and the associated elements of the lock structure were all fully recorded, and a number of observations made concerning alterations made to the various elements. However few additional details of the lock structure itself were visible. Additional details may be provided by the forthcoming report of the divers’ survey.

BHER: 24979 OASIS ID: bristola1-93155

Simon Roper

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PRC Housing, Lawrence Weston, Henbury & Lockleaze, Bristol

NGRs Lawrence Weston between (ST 54275 77875) and (ST 54750 78575). Henbury (ST 56800 78750) and (ST 57150 79000). Lockleaze between (ST 60825 76900) (ST 60800 77300) and (ST 61050 77100). Photographic recording of housing stock was undertaken in three different areas of Bristol. In Lawrence Weston, 64 houses on 8 separate streets were photographed, in Henbury 22 houses on 2 streets were photographed and 73 houses on 5 separate streets in Lockleaze were also covered by the survey. All of the house types photographed during the survey appear to have been built by Woolaway during the period 1947 to 1951 and are described as ‘Woolaway Type’. Those recorded were either terraced or semi-detached with minor variations of porches, doors and windows.

BHER: 24971, 24972 & 24973, OASIS ID: bristola1-90064, bristola1-90067 & bristola1-90068

Raymond Ducker

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No. 61 Old Market Street, Bristol (ST 59710 73108)

A watching brief was undertaken during groundworks associated with the construction of a new residential property and associated parking at the rear of the site. Removal of the concrete yard surface revealed deposits comprising a post-medieval, brick yard surface over made-ground deposits of post-medieval date, the full extent of which were not tested. No features or deposits of archaeological significance were observed during the groundworks, probably due to earlier development of the site.

BHER: 24937 OASIS ID: bristola1-80818

Tim Longman & Ray Ducker

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Former Magistrates Court, Rupert Street/Nelson Street, Bristol (ST 58734 73207)

A watching brief was carried out during a geotechnical survey prior to the demolition of the former Magistrates Court. Four trial pits were mechanically excavated, with the drilling/coring of two boreholes and three window samples at specific locations across the site. These mostly revealed varying depths of construction-related disturbance. However, in three locations the prescence of stratified archaeological deposits, in the form of buried garden soils and a single layer of peaty clay, were detected.

OASIS ID: bristola1-93624

Tim Longman

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Tithe Barn, High Street, Shirehampton (ST 53004 76996)

An evaluation and watching brief were carried out prior to and during construction groundworks for alterations and refurbishment to the Grade II listed Tithe Barn next to the High Street in Shirehampton.

Site monitoring in March 2011 involved a ‘strip and record’ exercise to expose and record a late 19th-century cobbled yard surface known to exist at the rear of the building. The watching brief observed the mechanical excavation of part of the yard surface along with foundation trenches for the proposed ‘Orangery’. During the course of the evaluation a late 19th century subterranean water tank or ‘cistern’ was discovered beneath the cobbled surface, access being via a small shaft sealed beneath a rectangular stone slab in the yard surface.

The watching brief revealed over 2.5m of stratified archaeological deposits (possibly the fill of a large pit) south of the yard surface, dating from the late 19th century. Finds included sherds of late 19th-century pottery, animal bone and oyster shells. In addition, near the junction of the garden wall and the barn, the remains of a late 19th century brick-built boiler house and flue/warm air duct were excavated. These were associated with a contemporary greenhouse which stood adjacent to the barn in a walled garden to the east of the study area.

OASIS ID: bristola1-94452

Tim Longman

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St James Priory, Whitson Street, Bristol (ST 58895 73470)

A watching brief and building recording project was undertaken during a major renovation programme at St James Priory. The archaeological work revealed a number of post-medieval structures in and around the church. Monumental inscriptions and post-medieval brick-lined graves were also recorded.

Medieval floor tiles and fragments of worked stone were recovered as residual finds in later contexts. The most significant of these was part of a medieval sundial carved with Arabic numerals which was recovered from rubble incorporated into the 19th-century north wall of the church. The style of the numerals suggests it was probably made in the 15th century. Interestingly, this appears to be what is known as an ‘equatorial’ sundial. This type of sundial has a polar oriented gnomon and a face angled at 38.5° above horizontal, and is an early type of ‘scientific’ sundial, i.e. its production requires a certain degree of astronomical knowledge. Unlike earlier medieval ‘scratch’ dials, it has hours of equal duration throughout the year. This may be the earliest known scientific sundial in Britain.

Foundations of a post-medieval building, probably built in the 17th century and demolished in the early 1850s, were uncovered immediately to the west of the church. The remains of three 18th or early 19th century townhouses incorporated into the eastern end of the church (formerly Nos. 1 – 3 Cannon Street) were also recorded.

Excavations in the north and south aisles of the church revealed that the interior is densely packed with brick-lined vaults and graves containing in-situ burials, most of which are in lead coffins. Monumental inscriptions show that whilst there are intramural burials dating from as early as the late 16th century, the vast majority were interred in the 18th and early 19th century. Excavations immediately to the south of the church and in St James Parade revealed that this area also contains densely packed 18th and early 19th century brick-lined graves. The foundations of a porch, probably built in 1802 and demolished c1880, were also uncovered in this area.

BHER: 24820 OASIS ID: bristola1-65981

Cai Mason

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Castle Park, Newgate, Bristol (ST 58167 72668)

A watching brief during construction of a new food kiosk uncovered a north/south aligned stone wall beneath the concrete surface of the former road known as Dolphin Street, one of the many city centre streets levelled during the Blitz. The wall was exposed in plan but not fully excavated due to the limited impact of the new development. The wall may define the edge of a cellar extending beneath Dolphin Street, or it could simply be one side of a stone-lined drainage culvert. The structure is probably early post-medieval in date and probably overlies earlier archaeological deposits.

BHER: 24981 OASIS ID: bristola1-93438

Cai Mason

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Chesterfield Hospital, Clifton Hill, Clifton, Bristol (ST 59425 72403)

An English Heritage level 2 standing building survey was undertaken at Chesterfield Hospital, Clifton, part of which is a Grade II* listed building formerly known as Clifton Court. The survey was restricted to recording an ancillary building known as Stafford Lodge, and limited areas of the listed building affected by the renovation programme.

Clifton Court was built in 1742 for Martha Goldney and Nehemiah Champion II. By the early 19th century a range of new buildings had been built to the west of the main block, one of which was later known as Stafford Lodge. The west wing was substantially re-built in 1857, but these works do not appear to have included Stafford Lodge itself.

In 1934 Clifton Court was converted for use as a nursing home. A large new extension was built to the rear of the main house, and most of the early-19th-century Stafford Lodge was demolished and replaced with a new nurses’ accommodation building. Stafford Lodge was rebuilt as a two-storey brick structure which incorporated parts of the earlier building into its south and east walls.

BHER: 25072 OASIS ID: bristola1-113790

Cai Mason

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Old Fire Station, Silver Street, Bristol (ST 58910 73320)

A building survey was undertaken to English Heritage Level 2 standard, to record a range of buildings prior to their redevelopment. Photographic recording was accompanied by annotation of existing architect’s drawings and annotated sketches.

The Old Fire Station was designed in 1924, built in 1926 – 8, and officially opened in 1930. It was built as part of a single development which included the former police headquarters and central police station. Part of the former police headquarters extended into the present development site; these rooms were probably used as offices.

the former fire station at bristol

View of the former fire station at Bristol looking south

The fire station is four storeys high, with a fourth floor tower on the corner of Silver Street and Bridewell Street. The ground floor was used to house fire appliances, a control room and a vehicle workshop. The rooms on the first floor probably included offices, mess room, recreation rooms, dormitory, toilets, washrooms and possibly a kitchen. The second and third floors contained nine purpose built flats, which were used to accommodate the fire officers and their families. Each flat contained a kitchen, bathroom and four or five other rooms that probably included a living room, dining room and two or three bedrooms. The Superintendent and Inspectors occupied the larger flats; the rest were for married Sergeants. The front doors of the flats opened onto an external balcony fitted with three enclosed shafts containing sliding poles. The Superintendent’s quarters were provided with a sliding pole located inside the flat itself.

The fire station closed in 1973 and has since seen sporadic use as an office, bar, nightclub, performing arts and laser games venue. Alterations associated with the post-1973 use of the building are most apparent on the first floor, and it is now difficult to determine the exact function of most of the rooms on this floor. Despite later alterations the basic structure of the building remains intact, and it remains a good example of a large 1920s fire station.

BHER: 25064 OASIS ID: bristola1-112250

Cai Mason

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St Mary Redcliffe, Redcliffe, Bristol (ST 59132 72264)

A watching brief was undertaken during pathway re-surfacing works at St Mary Redcliffe Church. Stone foundations of an early 19th-century gate were uncovered next to the south-eastern entrance to the churchyard. A small number of disarticulated human bones were recovered and re-buried in the churchyard.

BHER: 25032 OASIS ID: bristola1-106065

Cai Mason

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Railway Viaduct and Adjoining Buildings to the Rear of The George & Railway Hotel, Temple Gate, Bristol (ST 59425 72403)

A watching brief was undertaken during the demolition of a railway viaduct and adjoining buildings to the rear of the George & Railway Hotel. This revealed a number of structural details of the late 19th-century railway viaduct and adjoining stable block.

ariel view of the railway viaduct by the in bristol

Aerial photograph of the site in the late 1960s looking north-west. George & Railway Hotel is centre foreground with the viaduct behind (Bristol Central Library BPS 265/L91.16)

The Bristol Harbour Railway was built in 1868 – 72, and by 1874 two, poorly built, two-storey houses had been built against the viaduct on the Victoria Street frontage. Most of the arches under the viaduct were used as stables for the newly expanded George & Railway Hotel. These stables evidently proved insufficient for the hotel, and in 1883 a large new, brick-built stable block with a clear span corrugated iron roof was built between the viaduct and Portwall Lane East. Although this building was adapted for use as a garage and car showroom in the 20th century, there was litle alteration to the fabric of the 1883 stable block. The Harbour Railway closed in 1965, but the tracks continued to be used as a wagon store until the bridge over Victoria Street was removed in the mid 1990s.

BHER: 25055 OASIS ID: bristola1-109635

Cai Mason

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Buildings Adjacent to Junction 3 of the M32, Easton, Bristol (ST 60257 74278)

An English Heritage Level 2 building survey was undertaken to record buildings prior the redevelopment of land adjacent the M32.

The survey recorded the remains of a number of houses, workshops and outbuildings along Lower Ashley Road, Baptist Street and Millpond Street. The earliest buildings were built along Lower Ashley Road in the early 1830s; the Baptist Street and Millpond Street frontages were developed soon after. Numerous later 19th and 20th century alterations and extensions were also recorded.

Monitoring of the demolition phase allowed the recovery of a number of brass slag blocks and fragments of brass casting slabs which originated from the nearby Baptist Mills Brass Works.

BHER: 24832 OASIS ID: bristola1-69557

Cai Mason

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Lower Ashley Road, Easton, BristoL (ST 60120 74340)

An excavation was carried out on the site of the former Wesley Chapel burial ground. The excavation uncovered a total of 72 in-situ burials. This represents a 6.78% sample of the 1,062 individuals known to have been buried on the site between 1837 and 1899. The rest of the burials were removed by a burial ground clearance operation undertaken in the early 1970s.

The excavation also uncovered the foundations the Wesley Chapel and parts of a late 18th century building which formed part of the former Baptist Mills Brass Works. Wesley Chapel was built 1837 and substantially enlarged in 1871. Both buildings were demolished prior to the construction of the M32 motorway in the early 1970s.

The skeletal remains were recovered from fourteen graves, six of which had multiple internments, stacked up to eight deep. Just over half the burials were sub-adults, the majority of which were recovered from two graves, one of which appears to have been exclusively reserved for the burial of infants and children. Analysis of the burials revealed that while the some of skeletons had pathologies associated with poor diet, they do not appear to have suffered the same levels of poverty-related disease which have been recorded in groups excavated from similarly dated sites in London. All areas within the footprint of the new development were cleared of burials and the remains re-buried at the South Bristol Crematorium and Cemetery.

BHER: 24832 OASIS ID:bristola1-69557

Cai Mason

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Nos. 200 – 202 West Street, Bedminster, Bristol (ST 57834 70897)

In June 2011 a watching brief and training excavation was carried out on the former site of terraced cottages. Structural remains, cut features and dateable, stratified deposits indicated that there had been a long sequence of occupation in this location, beginning in the medieval period. Evidence was revealed for settlement activity in the form of fairly substantial, clay-bonded, limestone wall footings, post and stakeholes and deposits containing exclusively medieval pottery sherds. It is clear that bedrock had been exposed in antiquity and early masonry was re-used in later structures built on the same site. Episodes of major rebuilding occurred in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Ex-services personnel involved in a self-build redevelopment project worked as volunteers alongside BaRAS staff.

BHER: 25015

Andy King

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Brandon Hill, Bristol (ST 5789 7297)

In August 2011 two evaluation trenches were excavated near the top of Brandon Hill to investigate a bastion-shaped feature thought to be part of the English Civil War fortifications dating from the early 1640s. A section across the line of the ditch revealed its original shape to be similar to that of a Civil War outwork recorded at Gloucester Lane, Old Market in 2002. The ditch had been recut to more than half its original depth some time around 1898 when Cabot Tower was constructed. The bastion retaining-wall and earth bank proved to be of a much later date than the Civil War era and were possibly a ‘Folly’, probably constructed in the mid- to late 18th century. Further landscaping took place around the summit in the 1850s, raising both ground level within the bastion and the height of the retaining wall. Around 1898 the retaining wall was refaced and coping stones were added. Similar masonry to that within the walls of the upper bastion was also used to face an ‘outer’ line of earthworks further down the hill, first described by Samuel Seyer in 1823 as being part of the Civil War defences. Further excavation would be needed to show whether Seyer’s assumption was correct and if surviving ramparts were simply ‘improved’ at a later date by the addition of stone facing.

archaeological excavation at brandon hill in bristol

Trench 1, showing ditch after removal of fills, looking north

BHER: 25047

Andy King

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A photographic record of the four separate roof structures was carried out during renovation works in November 2010. One of the roofs contained in situ purlins and pegged rafter joints possibly dating from construction of the buildings in the later 17th-century. The other three roofs had early timbers re-used within their structures but had all been extensively repaired and rebuilt.

BHER: 24960

Andy King

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North Somerset

Zion United Reformed Church, Whittox Lane, Frome (ST 77467 48115)

BaRAS produced a statement of significance to accompany the earlier desk-based assessment for the Chapel and associated buildings of the Zion United Reformed Church. The Chapel is situated in the narrow street of Whittox Lane, close to the centre of Frome. This report assessed the heritage significance of the Chapel and its surroundings, including its interior elements.

OASIS ID: bristola1-94609

John Bryant & Simon Roper

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Prior Park Preparatory School, Cricklade, Wiltshire

A watching brief was carried out during groundworks for a pond as part of a wildlife garden in the grounds of the school.

Two soil-cut features of medieval date, probably rubbish pits, were partly removed. A small assemblage of medieval pottery together with a larger assemblage of animal bones was recovered during the partial excavation of the features. Portions of both features were preserved in situ in the base and side of the pond on completion of the works.

SU: 1015 9350 OASIS ID: bristola1-98420

Ray Ducker

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ammunition bedminster birmingham blast furnace brickworks bristol burial cesspit chapel cinema city hall civil war coaching inn dwelling fort garden building gazebo hall house hospital industrial iron works keynsham law court lido maesteg medieval meeting hall millerd's map modern monastic oven pit post-medieval post hole prehistoric or roman priory public house railway records office road roman shipyard st james theatre timber