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#Hart Heritage 8 – The Romans of the Whitewater Valley Part 1 – Hook by Linda Munday

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A Finds and Memorabilia day focusing on local Roman finds in Hook, Hampshire was  held on the 10th June 2017, at Hook community centre. The event staged by the Hook Local History Group, was part of a local heritage project funded by the National Lottery. The project’s aim being to digitise the group’s history archives and make them more widely available to the local community. (Hook local history group 2017, 21)

Hook History group event 10 6 17

Fig 1 -Hook Local History Group – Finds and Memorabilia Day 10th June 2017 at Hook Community Centre.

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Fig 2 – Roman artefacts on display from Hampshire Cultural Trust’s Archaeology collection.

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Fig 3 – An example of a roman tegulae (tile) showing roof construction

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Fig 4 – A roman coin found in Ravenscroft, Hook in 1986

A number of artefacts were on display including Roman pottery and tile finds from the area and a Roman coin discovered in a garden in Ravenscroft Hook in 1986. Although in poor condition,. It was taken to Andover museum for identification where it was thought to be 1st or 2nd century A.D. (Wilsdon UD, 7) A similar looking coin with Roman temple can be seen in fig 5. This coin is from the reign of Antoninus Pius who was emperor from 138 to 161A.D.

Coin from reign of Antoninus Pius

Fig 5 – Coin from the reign of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius 138-161 A.D.

Local school teacher, Glynis Wilsdon (now Dray) took the lead in setting up the Hook History Group in 1987.  She had initially become interested in Hook’s Roman past when she came across information about a find of Roman tesserae, tiles and pottery (including Samian ware) on a  public footpath in Hook in 1952. (Willis 1952, 61) This was reported in the Hampshire Field Club proceedings of the same year. The footpath in question was one that ran “east from Hook crossroads to Holt via Bell pond.” (Willis 1952, 61) See fig 12 which shows location on a map.

Glynis lived on the Bell Meadow estate near to the original Bell pond site and contacted the Hampshire Museum service to make further enquiries (Wilsdon UD, 2) The Museum Service were able to inform Glynis that the Roman finds were mainly sherds of Alice Holt coarse ware of the 3rd and 4th century A.D. which included “the rims of a bowl, a dish and a jar and part of a cheese press”. (Wilsdon UD, 2) No further investigation of the site had taken place and in 1963 the pond was filled in and the field turned into a housing development.

The site where the initial finds of Roman pottery were reported in 1952 is now number 10 Church View. The owner, a Mr Pugh had, found a lot of Roman roof tiles and pottery sherds in his garden which led in 1970 to a trial excavation taking place. Archaeologists, Graham Cole, Graham Huxley and Martin Millett, concluded that there was a Roman building on the site dating from the 1st and 2nd century A.D. ( Wilsdon UD, 2)

In 1989 another excavation took place on the site as footings were being dug for an extension. The archaeologists then were Martin Morris from Basingstoke Archaeological Society and Geoff Hoare from North East Hants History and Archaeological Society (NEHHAS)  It was thought at the time that a layer of flint could be the footings of a Roman wall but further excavation did not take place. (Wilsdon UD, 6)

1979 trench 10 church view

Fig 6 – Plan showing 1970 excavation trench along with excavation of footings in 1989 for house extension.

As the pictures in figs 7-11 show, the layers of the trench clearly contained Roman tile fragments and rubble. (Wilsdon UD, 6)

Extension footings trench 10 Church View Hook 1989

Fig 7 – Extension footings trench at 10 Church View 1989

Trench from 10 Church View Hook 1989

Fig 8 – Extension trench showing layers of Roman tile 1989

Geoff Hoare at 10 Church View excavation of footings 1989

Fig 9 – Archaeologist, Geoff Hoare at the excavation at 10 Church View 1989

layers in trench 10 Church View 1989

Fig 10 – layers in the trench clearly visible at 10 Church View 1989

1989 cross section

Fig 11 – Corresponding drawing of the photograph in fig 10 showing different layers in the earth.

Living nearby at 8 St Johns Close, Glynis had also found, during the 1980’s,   a lot of Roman pottery sherds in her own garden. A total of 100 sherds were recovered. However, she only discovered them in the topsoil. If she dug deeper to a depth of 3 feet nothing was to be found. (Wilsdon UD, 4) Investigations by Glynis concluded that the topsoil had been removed from the Bell Pond site when the housing development began in 1963. It was dumped in what is now Bandhall Place before being redistributed after completion amongst the gardens in Church View and St John’s Close (Wilsdon UD, 4) Now it made sense as to why so many of her neighbours were also finding Roman pottery and tiles in their gardens.

excerpt Glynis Wilsdon's Hook resized

Fig 12 – Map produced in 1980’s by Glynis Wilsdon (now Dray)( showing location of Roman finds on Bell Meadow Estate

Below are some examples of Roman pottery from Glynis Wilsdon’s (now Dray) garden which are held at Hampshire Cultural Trust archaeology collections in Winchester. Their accession number is A1990.17 to A1990.17.11.

decorated coarse ware 8 st john close resized

Fig 13 -Decorated coarse ware found in Glynis Wilsdon’s (now Dray) garden in Hook

coarseware found in glynis garden 1987

Fig 14 – Drawing in 1980’s by Glynis Wilsdon (now Dray) of decorated coarse ware found in 1987 shown in fig 13 above

Coarse ware was the most prevalent type of Roman pottery used for cooking vessels. It makes up more than seventy five percent of all Roman pottery finds in Britain. Local production of coarse ware took place at Alice Holt near Farnham (De la Bedoyere 1989, 93) Finding a lot of this type of pottery suggests that Hook had a Roman settlement.

mortarium from 8 st johns close

Fig 15 – Piece of mortarium found in Glynis Wilsdons’ (now Dray) garden in Hook

Mortaria were mixing bowls which were used for grinding food. They were usually small and had “internal gritting” to help with grinding. (De la Bedoyere 1989, 96) These pieces of grit can be clearly seen in fig 15.

Roman sites nearby

Of course, it is not surprising that Hook had a Roman past with the known Roman sites of Choseley Farm and Lodge Farm in Odiham being so close by. These were both excavated by Dorothy Liddell in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

More articles will follow on Lodge Farm and Choseley Farm.. So watch out for them!

Bibliography

De la Bedoyere, G. 1989. The Finds of Roman Britain, London: Batsford Ltd

Hook Local History Group, 2017. Hook Local History Group Celebrates its 30th anniversary year in style. Hook Focus, The Hook Village Magazine, June edition: 19-22

Varley, T. 2013. Hampshire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Willis G W. 1952. Two New Roman Sites Near Basingstoke, Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club Volume 18: 61

Wilsdon, D. ud (1980’s) The Romans in Hook, NE Hampshire, Pamphlet :1-8 held at Hampshire Record Office reference TOP166/1/9 copyright held by D Wilsdon (Dray)

Illustrations

Fig 1 – Hook Local History Group – Finds and Memorabilia Day 10th June 2017 at Hook Community Centre (Photograph courtesy of www.facebook.com/MemoriesofHookinHampshire)

Fig 2 – Roman artefacts on display from Hampshire Cultural Trust’s Archaeology collection photograph Linda Munday

Fig 3 – An example of a roman tegulae (tile) showing roof construction. Photograph Linda Munday

Fig 4 – A roman coin found in Ravenscroft, Hook in 1986 photograph Linda Munday

Fig 5 – Coin from the reign of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius 138-161 A.D. courtesy Wildwinds.com

Fig 6 – Plan showing 1970 excavation trench along with excavation of footings in 1989 for house extension .Excerpt from The Romans in Hook by Glynis Wilsdon (now Dray)

Fig 7 – Extension footings trench at 10 Church View 1989 – photo held in Glynis Wilsdon (now Dray) archive at Hampshire Cultural Trust Accession No. A1990.17 to A1990.17.11

Fig 8 – Extension trench showing layers of Roman tile 1989 photo held in Glynis Wilsdon (now Dray) archive at Hampshire Cultural Trust Accession No. A1990.17 to A1990.17.11

Fig 9 – Geoff Hoare at the excavation at 10 Church View 1989 photo held in Glynis Wilsdon (now Dray) archive at Hampshire Cultural Trust Accession No. A1990.17 to A1990.17.11

Fig 10 – layers in the trench clearly visible at 10 Church View 1989 photo held in Glynis Wilsdon (now Dray) archive at Hampshire Cultural Trust Accession No. A1990.17 to A1990.17.11

Fig 11 – Corresponding drawing of the photograph in fig 10 showing different layers in the earth. Excerpt from The Romans in Hook by Glynis Wilsdon (now Dray)

Fig 12 – Map produced in 1980’s by Glynis Wilsdon showing location of Roman finds on Bell Meadow Estate. Excerpt from The Romans in Hook by Glynis Wilsdon (now Dray)

Fig 13 -Decorated coarse ware found in Glynis Wilsdon’s (now Dray) garden in Hook photograph Linda Munday

Fig 14 – Drawing in 1980’s by Glynis Wilsdon (now Dray) of decorated coarse ware found in 1987 shown in fig 13 above. Excerpt from The Romans in Hook by Glynis Wilsdon (now Dray)

Fig 15 – Piece of mortarium found in Glynis Wilsdons’ (now Dray) garden in Hook photo by Linda Munday.

 


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