Session 12 – Writing for Archaeology

This was the last session of the module, so the lecture notes here introduce the new topic of writing for Archaeology, but also are intended as an overview of the past 11 sessions, and give pointers for where you may wish to go now in the field of Archaeology.

And also the accompanying handout:

Urban Archaeology Session 12 – Writing for Archaeology HANDOUT by Nicole Beale

This week (13/12/12) Edina Digimap

Just a note to give you the details of the mapping site which we will be using this Thursday. It is called Edina Digimap and it is a portal through which maps (historical and modern) can be accessed.  It is only available to people with University accounts but it is accessible from home.In class we will be looking at specific areas and looking at how they have changed using maps. We will then be considering what may have brought these changes about and will think about the historical or archaeological sources which we might investigate in order to find out more.

To use this site you will need to visit:

When you get to the page you will need to register using your University of  Southampton sign in details.

1) A ‘pop up’ window will appear asking you to log in via a UK institution, click ‘log in’

2) A page will appear asking which institution you are from, type ‘University of Southampton’ into this box and then select the university from the list which will appear below.

3) Click, ‘continue’

4) The next page will be a University of Southampton log in page. Log in using your University username and password.

5) You will now be at the home page of Edina Digimap. You will see several options running down the left hand side of the screen.

The Ordnance Survey tab will give you access to current Ordnance Survey map data. NOTE to access this data you will need to register for this service, instructions are quite straight forward but we can help you do this in class. It will take up to 2 days for your registration to be given the okay. 

6) We are going to look at the Historic>Ancient Roam section of the website. To access this click on the ‘Historical’ button and then click on the Ancient Roam link.

7) This will show you a map of the UK, you can zoom into this map by double clicking on the area you are interested in. It works in a very similar way to Google Maps.

8) When you zoom in far enough you will notice the ‘Decade Buttons’ becoming highlighted. When they turn blue you can click on them to see maps from different periods.  NOTE you will have to zoom in quite far because the original Ordnance Survey maps were made at large scales which do not display very well at large scales.

9) Click on the different decades to see the maps change, you will notice that the geography changes and so do the styles of map making.

Session 10 – Landscape Archaeology

Session 10 focussed on landscape archaeology and how the approaches from this can contribute to our understanding of the archaeology of the urban landscape.

Notes from Nicole’s lecture:

Focus of this session

  • That field doesn’t look very urban!
  • City and Country
  • The Transient City
  • Reading the landscape
  • Documenting the Landscape

Next session

  • How we have documented the landscape in the past using maps and plans
  • How we can use these documents to learn about urban archaeology

What does landscape archaeology do?

  1. Looks at larger context, identifying models of settlement area structures.
  2. Looks at settlement remains that are not identifiable by traditional means. i.e. no physical remains.
  3. Uses non-destructive methods of data analysis.

Landscape archaeology considers both:

  • Natural environment
  • Social environment

How do archaeologists view landscape?

  • They look at the land.

–      What is at the edge or beyond the excavation.

  • The look at The Land.

–      Thinking about how people in the past understood the landscape. A way of seeing the land, transforming the study of the land into ‘land-scape’.

— Johnson, M. 2007. Ideas of Landscape, Blackwell Publishing: London

Approaches to landscape archaeology

  • Multiple!

–      Quantitative Spatial Analysis

  • GIS
  • Predictive modelling

–      The soil

  • Bioarchaeology / Pollen analysis / Faunal analysis / Soil sampling

–      Archival data


  • Examples of what reading the landscape can tell us about archaeology.
  • Humans have always tried to understand the land

Example of rock art as a way to try to control the landscape

  • Bronze Age
  • Early Bronze Age

Example of Farming gets serious.

  • Fencing (of a sort).
  • Dartmoor and Exmoor
    – Moor Reaves

Example of Roman Roads

  • Reflect both

–      Political picture of mid-1st century AD Iron Age Britain

–      AND

–      Romans’ need to supply
the army efficiently.

Example of Medieval landscapes

  • Medieval partitioning of landscape was tied into the way society was structured.
  • Land partitioning supported by documentation.
  • Not just administrative, but also relating to power and authority.
  • Also in this period, there were attempts to develop knowledge around geography. The Church mediated much of this.

Example of Deserted Medieval Villages

  • Enclosure – from arable to pasture.
  • Some say: Development of rural capitalism.
  • Resistance through modification of landscape:

–      Levellers – took their name from levelling of hedges and ditches.

  • Wharram Percy – English Heritage

Example of 16-17th Centuries

  • Linking of land and social order:

1. Latin and Greek

–      Poems:

  • Milton’s Horatio at his farm
  • led to interest in farm management
  • led to increase in agricultural innovation

— see Thirsk, 1992. Making a Fresh Start

2. Gutenberg Press

–      Bible in the household

–      Access to the landscape and religious and political READINGS of the landscape:

  • The Garden of Eden
  • The Promised Land
  • The wilderness

— see Hill, 1993. The English Bible and the 17th Century Revolution

  • Divide between loyalty to the ‘monarch’ and loyalty to the ‘nation’.

–      See the Ditchley Portrait.

–      Later King Charles tried for treachery in the name of the nation.

Example of Henry VIII and Country Houses

  • Most built during reign of Henry VIII.
  • Last ‘castle’ was Thornbury (built 1511-21), but purely domestic.
  • Compton Wynyates (1510), Warwickshire. Built on site of Compton Superior.
  • More important than the house is the park.

Example of 18th Century

  • More and bigger parks.
  • Wimpole, Cambridgeshire and Earl of Dorcehster’s mansion built on abbey’s ruins.

–      Both had a village moved (Budby and Milton Abbas)

Urban landscapes?

  • In England over 90% of the population live in 8.3% of the total land area.
  • So 91.7% of England is still rural.

— Rowley, 2006.

  • Within the urban landscape there are signs of continuous human activity.
  • And within the 91.7% we can find signs of human activity.
  • The landscape as a palimpsest of human activity.

— Hoskins, 1955

After the lecture, we walked to the centre of Highfield Campus and looked down into the river valley. Using four maps from 1870 up until 1980, we looked at how the landscape had changed and discovered that the campus had been allotments, and also a brick quarry, explaining the unusual terrain.

On returning to the classroom, Gareth talked through some ways to survey the landscape. We’ll be building on this part of the session in Session 11, when we look at Maps and Archaeology. So many of the tools noted below will be described in more detail when we next meet.

Part 1 of this session dealt with:

  • Introduction to landscape archaeology
  • What constitutes landscape? i.e. natural/human agricultural/built
  • Theoretical approaches to landscape archaeology

Getting the Lay of the Land

  • Recording the Archaeological Landscape
  • Part 1 of 2

Spatial Data and Archaeology

Disclaimer: This is not specifically urban!

  1. A brief history of spatial data in archaeology
  2. Types of Spatial Data and How they are Captured
  3. Mapping and Surveying – How to
  4. Using Spatial Data…

Survey and Archaeology

  • Renaissance Maps and Taxation
  • The Ordnance Survey
  • Aerial Photographs
  • Space Age Techniques

Topographic Survey

  • The origins of modern landscape archaeology
  • More next week!

Topographic Survey How does it work?

  • GPS

Aerial/Satellite Photography

  • Pioneered in the 1910s
  • OGS Crawford
  • Huge archives of material

Satellite Imagery

  • High Coverage and Cheap (sort of)
  • Resolution issues for archaeology.
  • Geo-Sat 1 has a resolution of 0.41m pp

Vertical or Oblique?

  • Vertical (Above)
  • Oblique (Right)

Sources of Aerial Imagery

You may be interested in this short film, produced by the Ordnance Survey, that outlines the entire process of creating an OS map, in the 1960s:


Session 9 – Cemeteries

Last week we looked at cemeteries and how they fit into the idea of Urban Archaeology. We discussed the ways that cemeteries and graveyards had developed over time, beginning with burial grounds and ending with today’s municipal cemeteries. We used the example of St. Winifred’s Church in Branscombe to talk about how the development of a community and a church can be traced through time by looking at the locations of graves in a graveyard.

Gareth gave examples of different types of headstones that you might find in a graveyard or cemetery, and we talked about how different time periods can be identified from key features found on headstones and memorials.

We used printouts from the Council of Scottish Archaeology’s handbook for recording graveyards, and also worked through their recording and condition survey sheets for headstones. This handbook really is worth printing and taking with you if you plan to visit and record a graveyard or cemetery. It is free and available online (see the Powerpoint below for more information).

As an exercise, we all had a go at identifying periods of a selection of graves that we had removed the dates from.

This is the presentation that we gave:

Session 8 – Domestic Archaeology and Architecture

Here is the powepoint presentation for Domestic Archaeology which we covered in the first part of Week 8. It was a bit of a squeeze getting a big topic like this down into a 1 hour session and we covered a lot in a short space of time. There is quite a lot of optional additional reading associated with this weeks topic which may be helpful if you are interested in finding out more about the archaeology of the domestic environment.

The key concept which we looked at in this class was the changing nature of public and private space and the different ways in which people adapt the spaces which they live in order to suit thier lifestyles. On the one hand, the kinds of buildings we build can tell us a lot about the way in which we live, take for example the medival hall house and compare it to the 1960s flat. However, we also saw that the buildings people have do not neccessarily suit the lifestyle which they want to have. Because of this buildings are constanly changed. Examples of this include the compartmentalisation of medival hall houses and the widespread construction of extensions to Victorian terraced houses.

Session 8 Add-on – Genealogy and Family History

As an add-on to Session 8, we will be talking about Family History and Genealogy. This topic isn’t included in the Urban Archaeology topic outline for the module, but as a class you have expressed an interest in options for researching family history using online resources and databases and also in identifying open source, free or low cost options. So that’s exactly what this presentation aims to do!

Urban Archaeology: Session 8 (Add-on) – Genealogy & Family History

Genealogy & Family History

  • Genealogy…

o   The construction of a family tree through research

  • Family History is…

o   The writing of a biography of a series of related ancestors of common genealogy


o   GENUKI Includes details of County Record Offices

o   Cyndi’s List LOTS of useful links to software, databases and resources

o   Genealogy Mailing Lists by John Fuller

o   LookupUK Resource Centre for finding friends or relatives

  • Gov’t repositories:

o   General Register Office

o   The National Archives

  • Libraries:

o   British Library for Family Historians

o   National Library of Scotland

o   National Library of Wales

o   National Library of Ireland

  • National Repositories:

o   College of Arms

o   National Maritime Museum – PORT. Catalogue of maritime-related resources

o   ArchivesHub – 20,000 archives in UK’s universities and colleges

o   ARCHON (Archives On-line). – Managed by the National Archives

o   British History Online – British historical sources, inc. text and information about people, places and businesses from the 12th century to the present day. Built by the Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament

o   Moving Here – a National Archive initiative of 150,000 free images. Mostly from four communities coming into Britain since 1800s: Jewish, Irish, Caribbean, South Asian

  • Useful Organisations:

o   Federation of Family History Societies.

o   Scottish Association of Family History Societies

o   Family History Societies – More Family History Societies indexed at GENUKI

o   New England Historic Genealogical Society, oldest and largest genealogical society in the USA

o   Institute of Heraldic & Genealogical Studies

o   The Heraldry Society – covers heraldry, armory, chivalry, genealogy and allied subjects

o   The Heraldry Society of Scotland

o   AGRA – Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives

  • Online Databases:

o – entire copy of the indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths for England and Wales from 1837 to 2001 – small charge for copies

o   Family Search site (LDS Church) – largest collection of free family history, family tree and genealogy records

o   The Origins Network – 80 million + British and Irish genealogical records

o   Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour Register – personal and service details for the 1.7 million members of the Commonwealth forces who died in the First or Second World Wars

o   Burke’s Peerage and Gentry – genealogical records of Britain’s titled and landed families throughout the centuries. Good for terms related to British history, society and tradition

o   The Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum at Caernarfon

o   The Monumental Brass Society – brasses and the MBS’s activities

o   Police Orders – police orders of police officers serving in London’s Metropolitan Police Service. From 1891-1895 and 1899-1932. Includes joined, resigned, retired, died, transfers and medals.

o   The Bookplate Society

o   Naval Biographical Database – People and ships associated with the Royal Navy since 1660. Charges.

o   Vision of Britain – by Great Britain Historical Geographic Information System (GBH GIS).  Uses 200 years of UK Census statistics, assorted historic maps and gazetteers and the observations of travel writers from as early as the 11th century

  • Get someone to do it for you!
  • General resources relating to a whole county:
  • Costs money. Useful if you’re coming up against Latin texts!
  • Association of Genealogists Researchers in Archives (AGRA) has a list of members who will do research,

Types of Resources

o   Bibliographies

o   Clergy

o   Histories

o   Maps

o   Newspapers

o   Place Names

o   Record Office Guides

o   Visitations

o   Wills – some online at , then try National Will Index at . Most have to be accessed from (can be expensive).

  • Local:

o   Local histories, church guides, etc.

  • Registers:

o   Births, marriages, deaths, held by General Register Office (1837 onwards). Each certificate costs just under £10. More and more available free through: Paid online versions available here:,,, or

o   General indexes such as Boyd’s Marriage Index and the International Genealogical Index. Before the mid-1800s, you can look at parish registers, some go back to 1500s. Many non-conformist registers here: and

o   There is the International Genealogical Index (IGI) – An index of c.800 million births, baptisms and marriages from around the world, at

o   Name indexes. E.g. Census indexes for England and Wales on The National Archives website, Scottish census indexes at Scotland’s People, Irish censuses,

  • Monumental Inscriptions
  • Censuses

o   1911,1901,1891, 1881, 1871,1861 1851, 1841.  Often microfilms or microfiche of census returns held by County Record Offices, Local Libraries or the Society of Genealogists. A complete set for England and Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands is free at The National Archives in Kew,  The Scottish returns for 1841 to 1911 are available at Scotland’s People Centre in Edinburgh,

  • Lists:

o   Lists of people living in counties such as Directories and Poll Books (those who voted in Parliamentary elections, 1690s onwards).

o   Provincial town trade directories – including street lists, such as Kelly’s Directory. Available from 1770s onwards.

o   National and county trade directories. Available from 1780s onwards. More details from 1840s onwards.

Family History – Beginners’ guides



o   Herber, M. 2005. Ancestral Trails, Alan Sutton

o   Barrat, N. 2008. Who Do You Think You Are? Encyclopedia of Genealogy, Harper Collins

§  E.g. The Hampshire Genealogical Society

Family History – Major websites

  • Major Websites:






o   National Archives Discovery website

Family History – Finding support

  • Social Network Sites:

o   Roots Web Mailing Lists

o   The Guild of One-Name Studies – Register the surnames you are researching to see if anyone else is doing the same thing!

Family History – On your computer

  • Data formats:

o   GENCOM (most common)

o   GedML (XML-based)

o   FamilyML (XML-based)

  • Don’t worry if you’ve been using a spreadsheet up until now!
  • GRAMPS – free, but bit of work needed initially to learn how to use

Software to build family trees


  • FamilyTreeBuilder – free, with paid Premium version (that you can sign up to at any point in using the free version). Easy to use, very popular


  • GEDitCOM II – free, this software is for Macs


  • Web Family Tree – free, really easy to use


Software to visualise family trees

  • Geneaquilts – advanced, great for visualising large genealogy datasets


  • Misbach Enterprises – specialises in making family tree charts. They generally charge for this service, but there are some nice free charts you can download and use


Software to visualise family trees

  • GedView – a way to look through GEDCOM files on your PC. If you’ve downloaded or been sent any files from other researchers, you can use this software to navigate the data


  • GedView for iPads, iPhones, etc. – costs £2.49, great to look at your work on a mobile device


Software to share family trees

  • Websites:

o   GED-GEN for making websites, works with any GEDCOM files

The powerpoint presentation:

Session 7 – Archaeologists and Objects

This week we looked at how archaeologists deal with objects. Archaeologist, Sarah Coxon visited us and ran a practical session on object analysis. Sarah’s blog that charts her own research is here:

Part One

I began the session talking about how the idea of objects and artefacts as ways to tell us about the past fitted into the idea of Urban Archaeology.

There is much more on the end of this powerpoint that we did not cover. I’ve added it on to the end as a useful reference point for you, should you wish to find out more about reading objects.

The presentation:

Part Two

Sarah also gave a short presentation on objects and the different aspects of society that they can tell us about.

During the second part of the session, Sarah covered different types of objects, such as ceramics, stone, and biological matter. We discussed the effects of time on objects, and looked at some fascinating examples of various degrees of decomposition of artefacts.

After the presentation we had a tour of the ceramics laboratory and the petrology laboratory. We then looked at some examples of worked flint and also ceramics, and as a group went through the process of recording of a sherd of ceramic, using an example of a recording sheet that Sarah had brought along with her.

Session 6 – Industrial Archaeology

Cranes at Bristol Docks

A towering example of industrial archaeology, but not all examples are so monumental.

This week we looked at how Industrial Archaeology can shape our understanding of the development of the city and it’s people. The key topics covered in the lecture were as follows:

a)      Industrial Archaeology is highly variable in nature depending on the nature of the industry which has existed in the area of study and the period during which this industry has been active.

b)      Industrial Archaeology can be difficult to interpret without sources which give us insights into how industrial sites functioned.

c)       Industrial Archaeology is a history not just of buildings and machines but of entire communities.

The class began with a discussion of the origins of industrial archaeology in the 1950’s the term is thought to have been coined by Donald Dudley, a lecturer at the University of Birmingham (Hudson 1963:11). Originally the term seemed implicitly to relate to the increasingly abandoned industrial architecture which was left over from the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th Centuries and which at this point was beginning in many cases to fall into major decay. This narrow definition of the term has now largely been abandoned in favour of a definition which encompasses a wider range of industrial or pre-industrial activities relating to commerce and industry

We then went on to discuss the different types of evidence which we can employ in order to research industrial archaeology. In the first place we have the material remains, sometimes this is all that survives, this is particularly true of smaller scale or very ancient sites like the Neolithic flint mines at Grimes Graves on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. In the second place we have historical evidence, this can of course be very ancient (such as documentary evidence relating to the functioning of a Roman Harbour) but the volume of available material increases as we get closer to the present. In the case of very recent industrial sites we are often able to acquire sources such as oral histories.

Recovering an Industrial Past

The first example of industrial archaeology we looked at was the Roman Harbour complex at Portus (find out more here: This is a fascinating archaeological example in the sense that it is ancient (construction beginning in the 1st Century AD and habitation continuing into the medieval) but it also fulfils many of the characteristics of an industrial site. Portus is also a good example of a site which is very rich in material evidence (we have no shortage of buildings or artefacts!) but from which we have very few reliable first-hand accounts. We are attempting to piece together the history of a site and its people through the study of the material which they left behind.

In the case of Portus this presents us with some incredible insights; we are able to see the mooring posts around the edges of the harbour and see the baths which some of the residents or officials may have spent their leisure time. However, we are left with many elementary questions relating to matters of such significance as where the population of workers required for a harbour of this scale might have lived. These problems are compounded by the fact that the site was in use as a harbour for more than 600 years. It is easy to imagine that Roman sites had a single purpose and a short life but think about how many changes the 600 year old buildings we use have gone through and you will begin to get a sense of how complex these buildings can be to study.

We use all of the methods at our disposal in order to carefully document our excavations at a site like this. Excavation is expensive and time consuming and it is essential that we record everything which we uncover in as great detail as we can. Consequently we use cutting edge technologies such as laser scanning as well as traditional forms of archaeological excavation to ensure that we document the excavation as it proceeds.

Documenting Industrial History

Many of the challenges of this kind of archaeology can be alleviated through documenting our industrial history while it is still within living memory. Techniques such as the recording of oral histories can provide archives which future generations will rely upon to interpret buildings and communities which are second nature to us.

Consider for example the changes which have taken place across the British landscape as a result of the collapse of extractive industries such as coal and tin mining. Landscapes in places like the English midlands, South Wales and Cornwall have been permanently altered, no longer looking at all as they did even 40 years ago. With these changes have also come changes in communities with the immediate memory of these extractive industries gradually being lost as people move away and older generations die.

Several projects have sought to document this history, either through the preservation of architecture or through the preservation of other sources such as the oral histories of those who worked in the industries.

Technique of the Week: Oral History

There are many ways to study the industrial past. Most of the techniques already covered including the consultation of archives, online collections and even the study of churches can tell us a great deal about industrial sites and the communities which surrounded them. The technique which we covered this week was Oral History. Oral histories allow us to capture testimonies from people who often don’t feature in conventional historical records. They can provide a rich and insightful picture of life and events in the past.

Oral histories can be subjective and contradictory, based as they are upon the memories of individual people. However, taken as a collection they can provide a reliable and unique source of data. Furthermore, and equally importantly, they provide a sense of how the people who were there felt about the subject you are studying.

Further Reading

Documentation of recent industrial history is extremely easy to begin with a great deal of advice available to potential researchers. Below are some links which may be useful:

Oral History

The Oral History Society provide advice on how to begin your oral history project. They also provide hosting for a small fee

The British Library Sound Archives contain oral histories on many subjects. Many of the best examples of speakers talking about industrial life can be found in the accents and dialects collection

The British Library also recommend many excellent sources of Oral Histories here:

Industrial Archaeology

The UK Association for Industrial Archaeology – lots of good advice on carrying out industrial archaeology projects. The Association also issue a number of grants which can be applied for annually –

Hampshire Industrial Archaeology Society – an active society that holds regular meetings. They also have a journal to which industrial archaeology projects of local significance can be submitted –

Further Reading

Palmer, M., Nevell, M. and Sissons, M. (2012) Industrial Archaeology: A Handbook. Council for British Archaeology

Hudson, K. (1963) Industrial Archaeology London: John Baker


Session 5 – Historical Archives: Archaeologists and Text

On the 1st November we visited the Hartley Library and were met by the Senior Archivist and the Special Collections Librarian. We were shown the latest temporary exhibition on display in the archives section of the library, and were given an introduction to the Cope Collection.

You can read about the Cope Collection here:

We did a quick run round the library, introducing other sources of information, including the map collection and the microfiche collection.

In the group study room, we talked a little about the different ways that archaeologists and historians look at primary and secondary sources, covering in particular the importance of using object-driven approaches for archaeologists in understanding a source.

Some of the session was spent discussing material culture studies and how useful this is for source analysis, with a brief foray into post-processual archaeology looking at Tilley’s approach to reading rock art as ‘text’.

Presentation below.

We also discussed the many different methodologies for analysing a textual source, and how most of them included the questions: What? Who? Why? Where? When? The worksheet below is just one method for analysing a text. It uses questions from the SCIM-C method of source analysis.

Session 4 – Historical Archives: The Historian’s Perspective

On Thursday, 25th October, Dr. Adam Chapman, a specialist in Medieval History, very kindly delivered a session looking at the use of historical archives for historians.  Dr. Chapman has provided copies of the PowerPoint presentation that he delivered as part of the session, and also the information sheet that he handed out.


A big thank-you to Dr. Chapman for this session!