Field Trip: Geomorphology and Archaeology in a Chalk Downland Landscape

Dorset Geologists Association Group (DGAG) will host a field trip on the Saturday 23 March 2024
Title: Geomorphology and Archaeology in a Chalk Downland Landscape
Leader: Martin Green
Location/Time: Down Farm, Woodcuts, Dorset. The exact meeting time, location details and further important information will be confirmed upon registration via the email contact listed below. As a rough time guide a start at about 10am and finish approximately 4pm – exact times confirmed on registration.
Cost: No fee (There will be a chance to visit the museum for a donation of £5 per person)
Registration: Contact Jeremy Cranmer via email: jeremydorset1@hotmail.co.uk

Open to the public as well – but with a number limit so on a first registered basis

Event Description: The Down Farm Landscape (where Martin Green’s family has farmed for generations) is one of the most carefully studied areas in Western Europe. Much of this work has been carried out by Martin himself – who in 1992 won the Pitt Rivers award for independent archaeology. He and his work have involved five universities and one of the major field units was featured in a BBC 2 ‘Meet the Ancestors’ programme. Martin has been awarded an honorary doctorate of the University of Reading.
The farm is part of Cranborne Chase, just south of Salisbury. It not only contains the Neolithic Dorset Cursus, numerous long barrows and Hambledon Hill, but over the last 30 years henges, shafts, plastered houses, land divisions, enclosures and cemeteries have been identified and excavated. The farm has its own museum and Martin has published a book “A Landscape Revealed: 10, 000 Years on a Chalkland Farm”.
We shall walk around the farm to study the chalk landscape and its evidence of periglacial conditions during the last ice age. We shall see the big shaft and many of the archaeological and geomorphological features on the farm. Martin has agreed the give a demonstration of flint knapping. There will also be a chance to visit the museum for a donation of £5 per person to cover running costs.
Walking will be on footpaths, tracks and pasture. Gates and stiles will be encountered. There may be farm animals (mainly sheep). Beware of rabbit holes! There are no steep hills. Jeremy says “I have been many times and it is always a fascinating visit.”

Photo: From screen shot of a cover of Martin Green book : https://biblio.co.uk/book/landscape-revealed-10000-years-chalkland-farm/d/1404856938

Further Reading: See the websites:

  1. https://www.theblackmorevale.co.uk/2022/09/10/the-most-professional-of-amateur-archaeologists/

http://www.historiclandscape.co.uk/pdf/Background/B2%20CCWWD%20AONB%20HEAP%20Feb%202011.pdf

Talk – Geoarchaeology of puddingstone in Hertfordshire and Dorset

Dorset Geologist’s Association Group (DGAG) will host a talk on the Tuesday 17 October 2023.

Title: Geoarchaeology of puddingstone in Hertfordshire and Dorset

Speaker: Mervyn Jones with a talk mixing in archaeology with geology. The talk is based on a recent publication co-authored by the speaker in the Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association in Feb 2023.

Time: Talk will start at 7pm; finish approximately 8pm Venue: Activity

Meeting Room: Dorford Centre, Bridport Road, Dorchester, DT1 1RR

Lecture Entry Cost: £6 (£5 for DGAG members) collected on room entry

Booking a seat: Contact DGAG events at email: cwebb48578@aol.com

Talk Description: Discontinuous lenses of pebbly conglomerate have been silicified to create concretions of Hertfordshire Puddingstone. These 2–3 m of Paleogene silt-sand and gravel draping the Chalk were investigated using geological and archaeological techniques. Dissolution features in the chalk created 93 dolines, the largest concentration in the Chilterns. These were exploited by the Romans as valuable raw material for quern-making. Shortly after the Roman Conquest in AD43 the site was cleared by felling and burning the tree cover. The cortex and poor-quality core stone were cut away from concretions with picks, manageable slices were detached using steel wedges and initial shaping was undertaken to produce blanks of querns to be finished elsewhere. Quarrying continued for, at most, fifty years. The excavated doline fills and rims around the pits taken together form the second largest remaining area of Roman ground surface in Hertfordshire. The site was abandoned and has been largely undisturbed apart from some quarrying of chalk and brickearth and offers further opportunities for research. These findings will be contrasted with the pebbly Sarsen of Dorset and its use by neolithic people, including the recent discovery of a polissoir (“polishing boulder”) in the valley of stones – see https://www.dorsetaonb.org.uk/news/polissoir

Photo: Screen shot photo courtesy of Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hertfordshire_puddingstone

References Website links:
Feb 2023 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0016787822000815
2006 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283763995_Ancient_quarrying_of_rare_in_situ_Palaeogene_Hertfordshire_Puddingstone