BaRAS 2012 Fieldwork

The following represents a select list of projects undertaken by Bristol & Region Archaeological Services during 2012.

Index of Archaeological Projects


Old Gaol Stables, Cumberland Road, Wapping Wharf (ST 58434 72096)

The watching brief undertaken during redevelopment of the building revealed the structural remains of the stables and part of the perimeter wall of the New Gaol. There is no evidence of any significant activity on the site prior to the construction of the New Gaol in 1816 – 20. The stables were built between 1855 and 1869, and appear to have remained in use until at least 1930.

former stables in cumberland raod bristol undergoing renovation

The stables undergoing renovation, looking north-west

BHER: 25064, OASIS ID: bristola1-112250

Cai Mason

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Filwood Park, Hengrove Way, Knowle West (ST 59503 69350)

An evaluation was undertaken in Filwood Park and an adjoining area of hard standing and waste ground. The conclusion was that although Filwood Park itself appeared to have remained relatively unaffected by 20th-century landscaping works, the area around a former hangar for Whitchurch Airport appeared to have suffered heavy horizontal truncation. One of the main aims was to determine the eastern extent of a known Romano-British settlement in Filwood Park. However, no finds or features pre-dating the post-medieval period were found during the course of the work, which would appear to indicate that Romano-British activity was focused towards the western end of the park. A group of post-medieval features comprising two field boundary ditches, a land drain and a pond were identified near the eastern edge of the site, all of which related to features depicted on historic maps of the area. A fire pit and a posthole, both undated, were also uncovered.

BHER: 25067, OASIS ID: bristola1-127867

Cai Mason

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City Museum, Queen’s Road (ST 58074 73225)

A watching brief was undertaken during groundworks for a new lift, to provide full access to the multi-level City Museum and Art Gallery. The building itself was opened in 1905 and is Grade II listed. Two narrow service trenches were dug and recorded in the old archaeology office as well as a lift shaft pit within the former archaeology workshop to the north. Excavations in both areas revealed the footings of the present museum building overlying earlier wall foundations, believed to be contemporary with the early 19th-century Bishop’s College. Nothing pre-dating the 19th century was found.

BHER: 24991, OASIS ID: bristola1-97538

Tracey Smith

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Nos 17-19 Hadrian Close, Sea Mills (ST 55030 75782)

A watching brief was undertaken during the demolition of three 1940s prefabricated houses. Their concrete foundations were built over the sloping pre-1940s land surface. Apart from a small number of service trenches, it appears that most of the site remains unaffected by modern disturbance. No archaeological finds were discovered. Given that the site is located within a known Romano-British settlement, the absence of finds suggests that any archaeological features may be sealed beneath a layer of post-Roman plough soil.

BHER: 25113, OASIS ID: bristola1-124236

Cai Mason

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Nos 345-347 Church Road, St George (ST 62020 73555)

A watching brief was undertaken during groundworks associated with the construction of a mixed-use development. Prior to the present works the site was occupied by large late 19th-century villa (No. 347 Church Road), with yards and derelict outbuildings to the sides and rear, which were until recently used as a car repair workshop. The archaeological work revealed a post-medieval clay or coal-prospecting pit, a post-medieval well and the foundations of a mid 19th-century terraced house.

19th century villa in church road bristol

The villa in 2011, looking north-east (© Ann Linge)

BHER: 25016, OASIS ID: bristola1-104356

Tracey Smith

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Lord Rodney Public House, Two Mile Hill Road, St George (ST 63495 73792)

boarded up front of lord rodney public house

Frontage of the boarded-up Lord Rodney, looking north-east

A comprehensive programme of archaeological work took place at the former Lord Rodney public house. This included a building survey of the historic core prior to its demolition, a watching brief during the demolition, an excavation, and a watching brief on those areas previously undisturbed. The site lies on the north side of the main road connecting central Bristol with Kingswood to the east.

architects plans from 1911 of the lord rodney public house at st george bristol

Architect’s plan dated 1911 showing alterations to the existing buildings (Bristol Record Office). The earliest part of the building was found to be that marked Club Room (lower left)

The building recording of the historic core of the existing structures complied with English Heritage Level 3 & 4 archaeological recording. The survey revealed a number of forms of construction relating to the sequence of the building’s development. Elements of the historic core of the building may date back to the 17th century, with the shape of the main building constructed during the 18th century, with a lime-based mortar. Significant repairs/rebuilds took place in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The demolition-watching brief allowed the extent of the different phases to be identified and confirmed the sequence of the building’s development. The subsequent excavation itself confirmed a late 17th/early 18th century construction date for the earliest building on the site. This structure was progressively expanded from the 18th century to the late 20th century, with at least one phase of major rebuilding. No evidence was found for activity on the site prior to the 17th century.

OASIS ID: bristola1-127539 & 129625

Simon Roper

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South View, Stibbs Hill, St George (ST 60120 74340)

A watching brief was undertaken during groundworks for a new housing development on Stibbs Hill. Structural remains of an early 19th-century house belonging to the eponymous John Stibbs were recorded. Much of the site was heavily truncated by late 19th-century fireclay quarrying. The 1888 Ordnance Survey depicts a ‘Pug Mill’ on the site, but no physical remains of this structure survived.

BHER: 24863, OASIS ID: bristola1-74310

Cai Mason

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No. 9 Pipe Lane & No.42 Trenchard Street — Formerly No. 42 Frogmore Street (ST 5846 7299)

A programme of works comprising a standing building survey, excavation and watching brief was undertaken at this city centre site.

From c 1230 to 1539 the site lay within the precinct of St Mark’s Hospital and probably remained relatively undeveloped land. The earliest feature was a large quarry pit which extended across the whole site. The backfill contained 11th to early 16th-century finds which suggest it was probably backfilled shortly before or very soon after the Dissolution.

The earliest structure was the cellar of No. 9 Pipe Lane. This building was probably built in the early 17th century and was originally three-storeys high, stone-built and gable-fronted, and had at least one, but probably more, vaulted cellars extending under Pipe Lane. Several 18th and 19th-century extensions and alterations to No. 9, and the remains of an early 18th century stone building at No. 42 Frogmore Street were also recorded. Historic images show that No. 9 remained relatively unaltered until its demolition as part of a road-widening scheme in 1937. See reports section of the website for a downloadable version.

BHER: 25018, OASIS ID: bristola1-104493

Cai Mason

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Bristol Old Vic, Theatre Royal, King Street (ST 58800 72750)

excavations in the auditorium of the old vic

The interior of the Old Vic during renovation, showing excavations in the auditorium, looking south

A programme of works comprising a watching brief and standing building recording was undertaken during refurbishment and recovery works to the auditorium and back-of-house areas at Bristol Old Vic. The archaeological work uncovered a number of features pre-dating the construction of the theatre in 1764 – 6, including pits, postholes and a beam slot, the earliest of which were medieval. Numerous structural details of the theatre were also recorded, including the foundations of the original stage front and musicians’ area, extensive sections of flagstone flooring, wall foundations and blocked openings. Work outside the theatre revealed the foundations of an 18th or early 19th-century cellared building and three post-medieval inhumation burials associated with an extension to the Rackhay burial ground dating from 1742 to 1828.

BHER: 24990 OASIS ID: bristola1-96033

Cai Mason

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Land Adjacent To Junction 3 Of The M32 Motorway, Easton (ST 60120 74340)

A watching brief was undertaken during groundworks associated with the construction of a new mixed-use development on land adjacent to the M32 motorway. The earliest feature was an 18th or early 19th-century road/yard surface of compacted slag that probably originated from the adjacent Baptist Mills Brass Works. The metalled surface was cut by one of six large sand quarries, most, if not all, of which were probably dug shortly before the site was developed for housing in the early 19th century. Lower Ashley Road was laid out in the late 18th century, but the site remained largely undeveloped until the early 1830s. By the mid 19th century Lower Ashley Road had become a busy commercial street lined with shops, houses, workshops, places of worship, and public houses. Structures associated with this phase of activity include cellars, walls, floors, yard surfaces, wells, cesspits and drains. In the later 19th and 20th century some of the earlier buildings were demolished as a result of changes of use or road widening, but the pattern of development remained largely static until large scale clearance work was undertaken prior to the construction of the M32 in the early 1970s. The surviving buildings were demolished in a piecemeal fashion between 1973 and 2010.

lower ashley road in the early 1970s looking east towards saints peter and paul church

Photograph of Lower Ashley Road taken in the early 1970s, looking east towards Saints Peter and Paul Church

flagstone floor revealed at lower ashley road

Flagstone floor revealed during topsoil stripping, looking south-west

BHER: 24832 OASIS ID: bristola1-69557

Cai Mason

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Land To The Rear Of No. 5 Kingsdown Parade, Kingsdown (ST 58556 73666)

A watching brief was undertaken during construction groundwork on the site to the rear of No. 5 Kingsdown Parade (otherwise known as No. 58 Alfred Hill). Other than a small assemblage of 13th/14th century pottery recovered from a stratified context, no significant archaeological deposits or features were present. The pottery may have an association with the nearby medieval priory of St James.

BHER: 25153 OASIS ID: bristola1-132170

Tim Longman

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Land At Tregarth Road, Ashton Vale (ST 56645 70302)

A watching brief was carried out during works associated with the development of 47 dwellings on land between Risdale Road, South Liberty Lane and Tregarth Road. The watching brief revealed made ground to a depth of more than 0.5m, composed largely of mining waste, across the southern third of the site and probably dating from the early/mid-20th century. The former coal workings at South Liberty Colliery are located immediately opposite the study area.

length of iron rail found at tregarth road in ashton vale

Removal of a length of in-situ iron rail which was crossing building plot foundations

A greyhound racing track, known as The Bedminster (Bristol) Magnet Greyhound Company Ltd, was built on the site in March 1928 but closed by October of the same year due to the refusal of a licence by the Greyhound Racing Association. During excavation work on both the northern (alongside Tregarth Road) and the central building plots, an almost continuous length of iron rail was unearthed which carried the mechanical trolley and ‘lure’ (artificial hare) which the dogs chased. The horseshoe-shaped course lay north of South Liberty Lane and extended to just north of Risdale Road. Two rows of square concrete bases set at regular intervals, which may have belonged to two lines of fence posts, were recorded. This may be the fence line shown on the 1932 Ordnance Survey plan at the south end of the race track, another being located just west of Risdale Road. No deposit(s) that could be associated with the track surface itself were recorded, suggesting that the dogs may have raced on a dirt track. In addition, immediately north of the site, the presence of a rough track was observed between Tregarth Road and Risdale Road at the rear of Nos. 13 – 35b Risdale Road. This lane is on the line of part of the eastern circuit of the course and may well be a surviving remnant. No other significant archaeological deposits or features were present.

BHER: 25049 OASIS ID:bristola1-107758

Tim Longman

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Montpelier Health Centre, Bath Buildings, Montpelier (ST 59148 74381)

An excavation was carried out prior to the development of a new healthcare building. A single trench was excavated on the site of buildings associated with the mid-18th to early-20th century lido known as ‘Rennison’s Baths’. The nearby Grade II listed public house known as the ‘Old England’, about 50 metres north-east of the site, is the only surviving building belonging to the former ‘Pleasure Bath and Gardens’. Partially extant structures at the rear of the present health centre, including part of the retaining wall of the bathing pool itself and areas of stone paving alongside the former pool give an impression of how large the complex was in its heyday between the late 18th century and World War I. The majority of the archaeology dated from between the mid/late 19th and early 20th centuries, broadly contemporary with the later (Victorian) alterations made by Bristol Corporation Baths Committee after they purchased Rennison’s Baths in 1891.

excavation trench on the site of montpelier health centre

Looking south-east at the excavation trench. To the left are the foundations of part of an 18th century dwelling-house (remodelled in the 19th cent), with paved passageway to the right

a cobbled yard surface revealed during excavations at montpelier health centre

A cobbled yard surface alongside the foundations of a boundary wall, both dating from the late 18th/early 19th century, located at the south-east end of the trench

BHER: 25143 OASIS ID:bristola1-130734

Tim Longman

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One Victoria Street, Redcliffe (ST 59019 72848)

A watching brief was carried out during a geotechnical survey in advance of construction groundwork at the site next to the Floating Harbour in central Bristol. Site monitoring during the geotechnical site investigations involved an archaeological watching brief during the mechanical excavation of a single trial pit and the drilling/coring of 3 boreholes at specific locations across the site. These mostly revealed, not unexpectedly, varying depths of construction related disturbance with only tidal flat deposits, of possible archaeological interest, in two of the boreholes.

BHER: 25087 OASIS ID: bristola1-118246

Tim Longman

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University Of Bristol Students Union Building, Queens Road, Clifton (ST 57523 73297)

A watching brief was undertaken during construction groundwork at the University of Bristol Union Building. No significant archaeological deposits or features were present, other than the partial remains of a boundary wall and a stone-built drain. These were associated with a number of large, early 19th-century residential properties, which formerly occupied the site.

BHER: No. 25001 OASIS ID:bristola1-100405

Tim Longman

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South Gloucestershire

Boundary Wall Of Former Head’s House, Silverhill School, Winterbourne (ST 64964 81345)

BaRAS were commissioned to record a section of the historic garden wall of the former Winterbourne House prior to its demolition for a new entrance. The wall is located on land adjoining the grounds of Silverhill School.

This detailed examination highlighted original features such as a blocked-in chamfered window with deeper internal dimensions and possible ‘seat’ area, a simpler blocked window to the north, and an internal re-facing and possible in-filling of a gap in the centre of the area. The mortar suggests that the wall was originally built earlier than the 19th century, contemporary with, or just after, Winterbourne House itself was being built. It was then thoroughly repaired and re-pointed at some time during the 19th century. The existence of iron pins set into the ashy mortar and scattered across the internal face of the wall, suggested some form of climbing plant was trained along it during the 19th century. This may also have been the period in which the windows were blocked and any outbuildings removed, leading to a more formalised Victorian style of garden being created.

garden wall in winterbourne house

The blocked-in openings in the wall, looking north-west

OASIS ID: bristola1-119889

Simon Roper

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Hanham Hall, Whittucks Road, Hanham (ST 64425 71607)

The renovation of Hanham Hall is to form the centrepiece of England’s first large-scale, zero carbon development. The site comprises the main house and a series of outbuilding ranges and lies approximately 800m to the SSE of Hanham’s historic centre. Hanham Hall is a Grade II listed building, which most recently served as a NHS hospital which closed in 2000. The intention is to convert it into a café, farm shop and crèche together with office space. Early renovation work exposed areas of the historic fabric not previously recorded and resulted in the removal or alteration of some parts of the structure. Bristol and Region Archaeological Services undertook the building recording of those areas not previously exposed.

hanham hall at whittucks road in hanham
carpenters marks on a purloin and truss in the 17th century roof of hanham hall

Original 17th-century roof structure and carpenter’s marks on a purlin and truss

The removal of the cement render from both the internal and external walls of the Hall and outbuildings allowed numerous blockings and changes in construction to be recorded. It has been possible to refine and correct the phasing suggested in earlier reports, and to confidently establish the sequence of the construction/alterations for the majority of the buildings. While much of the earlier fabric of the Hall remains, every part has undergoing multiple alterations and additions over the years. However, this reflects the success of Hanham Hall as a building, which aside from the hiatus of the last decade, has been in continuous use for three and a half centuries. The building has been adapted and altered for the changing roles asked of it, and hopefully the current renovation will allow the Hall to be useful for another century or more.

SGSMR 19402, OASIS bristola1-91244.

Simon Roper

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Ralph Allen School, Claverton Down Road, Combe Down, Bath (ST 77142 62680)

A geophysical survey and evaluation were undertaken in advance of the construction of a new school building and an all-weather sports pitch. The survey identified a number of features of possible archaeological origin. The subsequent evaluation demonstrated that apart from a modern drain crossing the school hockey pitch, most of the geophysical anomalies appeared to be natural features, primarily caused by variations in the local geology. A small quantity of early to middle Iron Age and Romano-British pottery and some worked flint was recovered from the topsoil and topsoil/natural interface layers. Although these finds provide some evidence for prehistoric and Romano-British activity somewhere in the vicinity of the site, they were not thought to be indicative of any significant presence within the proposed development area. A subsequent watching brief found more of the same pottery but no significant features or deposits.

OASIS IDS: bristola1-122245 & 131242

Cai Mason

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Hayesfield Lower School, Brougham Hayes, Bath (ST 7402 6460)

A watching brief was carried out before the construction of a new school building. Apart from four sherds of residual Romano-British and medieval pottery, there was no evidence of any significant activity on the site prior to the construction of a Militia Barracks in 1864. The foundations of a group of Second World War hutments were recorded in an area formerly used as a tennis court.

OASIS ID: bristola1-118868

Cai Mason

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Live And Let Live Public House, Bath Road, Blagdon (ST 50457 58628)

An English Heritage Level 2 & 3 building survey of the historic core of the Live and Let Live public house was undertaken prior to its demolition. The building was located at the east end of Blagdon village, fronting onto the Bath Road (A368) to the north of the site.

fireplace and stairwell in the live and let live public house at blagdon

A fireplace and stairwell in the oldest part of the now-demolished pub

The survey revealed a number of features relating to the sequence of development of the building. These, in conjunction with the historic research and map evidence, allowed a basic phasing to be produced. The earliest phase of the building was represented by clay-bonded rubble construction, which formed the principal build of the two rooms on the ground floor, and probably both dated to the late medieval period, possibly the 16th century. The building was not used as a beer house until after 1865 and is first named as the Butchers Arms, as recorded in the 1871 census. The first record of the Live and Let Live being used as the name of the property was 1882, although it was not recorded as such by the census until 1911.

OASIS ID: bristola1-114945

Simon Roper, BaRAS

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Nos 2 & 4 Fore Street, Copperhouse, Hayle (SW 56772 37924)

Trenches were excavated to locate the walls of an in-filled dock basin associated with the Copperhouse Dock and built in about 1769. It was possible to establish the exact location and the alignment of the walls of the basin and the position of its south-east corner. Two cobbled surfaces associated with the dock basin were observed during a watching brief. The dock basin has been preserved beneath the car park of the shop development.

The late 18th-century building known as Nos 2 and 4 Fore Street comprised two ranges running north/south. That to the west was of two storeys and had an entrance door decorated with vermiculated stucco in its west elevation. It appears to have been used as offices and, perhaps, a shop. The eastern range was used as a warehouse which was initially open to the roof. Both ranges were extended to the north during the 19th century and a first floor was inserted in the warehouse. During the mid to late 20th century major structural alterations were carried out to provide space for a supermarket on the ground floor. The external west and south walls of the 18th-century building have been incorporated in the new shop.

Reg Jackson

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Trevaster Farm, Porth Kea (SW 8358 4267)

Building recording and an archaeological watching brief were carried out prior to redevelopment. The earliest feature was a shallow pit sealed by the walls of the house and therefore clearly pre-dating its construction. It contained a single sherd of medieval pottery dating to the late 13th century or later. The first house on the site was built of local stone and cob and was of a ‘cross passage’ design with a single room on either side of the opposing doorways in the front and back walls and an outshot to the rear. Three post-holes which formed part of a timber partition to the north of the cross passage were noted during the watching brief. It appears to have been of two storeys and, as such, is of a ‘developed’ cross passage type which, together with the presence of the outshot, suggests that it was constructed in the later 17th century. A single storey extension, built of cob on a stone plinth, was added to the north end of the house and a sherd of pottery from the cob wall dates to the 17th or early 18th century. However, the date of this extension is not known other than it post-dates the main house and is probably not much later than the early 18th century. A two storey stone-built extension was added to the south end of the house, probably during the 18th or early 19th century.

Reg Jackson

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Greylake Barns, Camelford (SX 11964 83603)

buildings on the east side of a courtyard at greylake in cornwall

Buildings on the east side of the courtyard, looking south-west

Building recording was carried out before conversion of the derelict barns for housing. The 1841 tithe map shows two buildings, described as houses, on the site but these had been demolished by 1881, when the survey for the First Edition Ordnance Survey plan records a complex of farm buildings built around four sides of a rectangular courtyard. Such a date would fit well with the accepted idea that it was not until after the 1840s that some degree of rationalisation occurred with farmsteads reorganised around yards. It is probable that the east range of buildings was the first to be constructed as it was built using different materials from the other ranges, and it was cut by the construction of buildings forming the north range and the southern part of the east range, both of which were laid out on a slightly different orientation. The buildings on the south, west, north and the southern part of the east sides of the courtyard were all built of the same materials and were probably constructed at approximately the same time.

Reg Jackson

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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