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Archaeological projects

Hugo Lamdin-WhymarkA wealth of experience

The projects outlined below represent a small selection of those that I have been involved with since I gained my first experience of archaeological excavation in 1993. Most recently I have focused on artefact studies, but my background is in field archaeology and I have extensive experience on Palaeolithic through to post-medieval sites in both rural and urban situations. In addition to working extensively in England and Scotland, I have engaged in field projects in Turkey, Syria and Jordan. I continue to be actively engaged in archaeological fieldwork at the Ness of Brodgar, Orkney directing the excavation of Structure 14.

Working Stone, Building Communities: Technology and Identity in Prehistoric Orkney

Between 2014 and 2017 I collaborated on a Leverhulme Trust funded research project directed by Prof Mark Edmonds, University of York, on Orcadian flint and stone tools. Over three years, my fellow researchers, Ann Clarke and Dr Antonia Thomas, and I undertook a comprehensive review of flint and stone tools in Orkney, revisiting recent excavation assemblages and old collections in museums across Scotland. The project website - www.OrkneyStoneTools.org - which documents stone tools, stone working techniques and the biographies of principal collectors and institutions is set to go live in April 2017. Between 16th June and September 2017 as series of exhibitions will be hosted in museums across Orkney. A selection of 3d models of carved stone balls created for the projects are presented below.

Carved Stone Balls and Sculpted Stones by Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark on Sketchfab

Caird's Cave, Rosemarkie, Scotland

Excavation directed for the Rosemarkie Caves Project, June 2010

Between 21st June and 3rd July 2010 the Rosemarkie Caves Project undertook an excavation at Caird’s Cave, near Rosemarkie, on the Black Isle.  It has long been suspected that Caird’s Cave was the cave excavated by Dr William Maclean (1867-1830) and Colonel William Hall (1839-1912) between 1907 and 1912, but the excavation was not published and no primary records survive that directly relate their excavations to Caird’s Cave.  Maclean and Hall’s excavations yielded an important assemblage of bone working debris and bone tools, including an exceptionally fine amber inlaid pin, that were donated to the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, after Maclean’s death by his widow, Louisa.  Maclean initially believed his discoveries to date from the Palaeolithic but an obituary published in the Ross-Shire Journal on the December 12th 1930 suggest the finds were Mesolithic.  These dates are conjecture and the amber inlaid pin is currently considered to date from the 8th or early 9th centuries AD (Foster 1990). 

The current excavation programme was designed to clarify three key issues:  1) if Caird’s Cave was excavated by Maclean and Hall; 2) the extent of any previous excavations; and, 3) the date, character and state of preservation of any surviving archaeological deposits.  To these ends, five excavation trenches were opened within and around Caird’s Cave.

The excavations revealed that the Caird’s Cave had previously been extensively excavated, and artefacts recovered indicate this occurred in the early 20th century.  These excavations removed c 70 m³ of deposits from the cave’s interior and created a large spoil-heap in front of the cave; the latter is likely to be a ‘midden’ disturbed in the 1990s.  The spoil-heap was composed of re-deposited talus and occupation deposits rich in charcoal and marine shell.  A plain bone pin and bone working debris comparable to material held in the Maclean Collection was also recovered.  The current excavators are therefore confident that they have located the site of Maclean and Hall’s excavation. 

The excavations also revealed presence of in situ stratified deposits within the north eastern half of the cave.  These deposits were comparable to the material in the spoil-heap and yielded a further bone pin and bone working debris.  The deposits in the cave all appear to result from a single period of activity, probably within the early historic or medieval period, but radiocarbon dates are being submitted to clarify the date of these deposits.

To read the interim report click here

Cairds Cave

The excavation team outside Caird's Cave

Pullyhour henge, Caithness, Scotland

Co-director with Prof Richard Bradley

The Pullyhour henge measures only 18.5 m in diameter and is among the smallest examples of this monument form. The date of these small monuments is uncertain and they may be considerably later than the massive later Neolithic constructions located across southern Britain. Moreover, it is likely that they functioned in a different manner to these larger monuments, as their limited size precludes their use for mass gatherings.

The Pullyhour earthwork was surveyed and excavated in March and April 2008. The excavations identified two phases of construction and an episode of destruction. The first phase monuments was a simple circular earthwork with a 3 m wide ditch surrounded by a 3 m wide bank. The interior platform measured only 8 m in diameter and was accessed by a 1 m wide south-facing causeway aligned on a distant cairn. This monument was altered by re-shaping the interior to an oval form, raising the external banks and creating a small horseshoe shaped bank in the interior. The secondary monument witnessed the erection of two standing posts outside the entrance creating further alignments on a distant hill. A late Mesolithic flint scatter was located in a preserved soil in the monuments interior. This excavation was published in Richard Bradley's Stages and Sceens (2011).

To read the interim report click here

Pullyhour henge

The Pullyhour henge

Stonehenge Riverside Project, Wiltshire

Finds Officer. Directed by Prof Mike Parker Pearson, Dr Josh Pollard, Prof Julian Thomas, Dr Colin Richards, Dr Chris Tilley and Dr Kate Welham

From 2005 to 2008, I worked as the Finds Officer for the Stonehenge Riverside Project. This project initiated new research into the Stonehenge landscape and aims to investigate the the relationship of Stonehenge to the River Avon and surrounding monuments. Excavations at Durrington Walls revealed the remains of nine later Neolithic houses with associated midden deposits. These yielded in excess of 100,000 flint tools and c 100 kg of Grooved Ware. Other excavations in the wider-landscape have produced five complete early Bronze Age cremation urns among other grave goods. For further information and to download the interim reports visit the project website.

Hugo Lamdin-Whymark

A cremation urn at the Cuckoo Stone being prepared for lifting and conservation

Wittenham Clumps: Castle Hill hillfort and wider landscape project, Oxfordshire

Project Officer and Principal Author with Tim Allen and Leo Webley

This Heritage Lottery funded project investigated the late Bronze Age and Iron Age hillfort on Castle Hill and its environs in 2003-2005.  As the principal Project Officer, I led excavations on the earthworks of the Scheduled Ancient Monument (2003) and further investigations of the surrounding landscape (2004) using a team of local volunteers and students. 

Excavations on Castle Hill confirmed the presence of a late Bronze Age enclosure on the hilltop and revealed significant evidence for the form of the early Iron Age defences, still upstanding as dramatic earthwork.  Perhaps, most significantly the project has revealed a substantial early and middle Iron Age settlement outside the hillfort’s entrance that extends for over 600 m.

Publications: 

Allen, T G, Cramp, K, Lamdin-Whymark, H, and Webley, L, 2010 Castle Hill and its Landscape; Archaeological excavations at the Wittenhams, Oxfordshire. Oxford Archaeology, Oxford

Allen, T G, and Lamdin-Whymark, H, 2005 Little Wittenham, excavations at and around Castle Hill (SU 5695 9262), South Midlands Archaeology 35

Taplow Court hillfort, Taplow, Buckinghamshire

Project Officer and Principal Author with Tim Allen and Chris Hayden

Excavations at Taplow Court in 1999 unexpectedly revealed the remains of a hitherto unknown hillfort with late Bronze Age and Iron Age phases of construction.  The late Bronze Age enclosure was defined by a ‘V’-shaped ditch and in the interior postholes of a roundhouse with preserved occupation layers was excavated.  The late Bronze Age defensive ditch naturally silted for a period prior to the cutting of a substantial ‘U’-shaped ditch, measuring some 12 m wide and 3.5 m deep, and construction of a timber-laced rampart over the late Bronze Age ditch.  A recent evaluation has revealed a further external ditch, demonstrating the multi-vallate form of the Iron Age hillfort. 

The flint assemblage revealed earlier aspects of the sites use with small numbers of Mesolithic and Neolithic flints preserved in tree-throw holes.  Early Bronze Age flintwork, including a small number of refitting flints, was recovered from a group of intercutting pits associated with Collared Urn.   

Publications:

Allen, T G, Hayden, C, and Lamdin-Whymark, H, 2009, From Bronze Age enclosure to Anglo-saxon settlement: archaeological excavations at Taplow Court, Buckinghamshire.  Oxford Archaeology Thames Valley Landscapes Monograph 30 

Allen, T G, Lamdin-Whymark, H and Maricevic, D, 2006 Taplow, Taplow Court (Phase 2), Clivedon Road, (SU907 824), South Midlands Archaeology 36, 19-21

Allen, T G, and Lamdin-Whymark H, August/September 2001, The Taplow Hillfort, Current Archaeology 175

Allen, T G and Lamdin-Whymark, H, 2000 The rediscovery of Taplow Hillfort.  South Midlands Archaeology 30, 22-28

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