Our first post contained an excerpt from our funding application, but I thought I would provide a better explanation of our project and why it is significant.
The site at Swallowcliffe Down in Wiltshire was excavated in the 1920s. An interesting array of material was recovered, including pottery, spindle whorls, weaving combs, glass beads, and brooches. This material came from a series of pits that Clay excavated. In the 1920s, they though that people in the Iron Age lived in the pits and that they represent the domestic structure of time time. Now we know that this wasn’t the case and that the pits were most likely used for grain storage. However, because of Clay’s excavation methodology (which is very different from today’s), he did not look for other structures, such as roundhouses.
Our project aims to re-explore the site at Swallowcliffe in an effort to better understand the nature of the site. We are using geophysical survey to locate the original excavations, but we are also hoping that we will be able to discover new previously unknown features. The nature of the site remains very unclear, since we cannot definitively say whether it was a settlement or not, without evidence for roundhouses. There is also quite a lot of evidence for other periods of activity at the site, so it will be interesting to see how the Iron Age site relates to earlier features and how later activity relates to the Iron Age site.
We hope that this provides a useful overview. We will be updating the blog and twitter account throughout the fieldwork from the 19th-24th of July.