By Dominika Czop, Project Archaeologist

Last week I was sent on an archaeological adventure in beautiful Shropshire. I accompanied our new Senior Project Officer, Craig. Our task was to investigate what is hidden under the ground next to the walled garden in Weston Park. We discovered foundations of a pinery-vinery!

I hope everyone likes pineapples because pinery-vinery was a greenhouse for pineapples. Pineapples were first grown in the Netherlands, and British gardeners learnt the art of growing this exotic fruit from the Dutch. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the first British grown pineapples were cultivated by a Dutch gardener, Henry Telende, who worked in Sir Matthew Decker’s Pembroke Villa in Richmond. As a fruit that is very expensive and difficult to grow in northern climates, pineapple, like other exotic plants, became a symbol of wealth and status. Unlike today when we can buy one at any time, only two hundred years ago people rented pineapples to show off to their guest or even send them to the king or queen as a royal gift!


The majestic pineapple, once available for hire


Unlike citrus fruit, which could be grown in orangeries, pineapples require constant heat as they grow all year round. Since the 17th century heated greenhouses were used in Britain. Hot air flues inside cavity walls allowed heating of entire length of the garden wall. Furnaces that provided the heat for the walls can be seen along the southern wall of the Walled Garden in Weston Park. Unfortunately furnaces required constant attention – they had to be supplied with fuel, produced soot, which could block the hot air flues and created danger of fire. Fumes from the furnaces also damaged or killed the plants in greenhouses. Different techniques of growing pineapples and providing heat inside of the greenhouses developed during the 18th and 19th century. First pineapples were grown in tan pits and then moved to heated hothouses to mature. James Justice described his success in growing pineapples in 1728 at his estate in Crichton, Scotland. He combined tanners’ pits and greenhouse into one stage of growing and maturing pineapples. The pineapple pots were placed in a pit filled with layers of pebbles, manure and tanners’ bark, which provided a source of stable heat for few months.

Pinery-vinery wall

Pinery-vinery wall

The use of pinery-vinery was proposed by Thomas Hitt in 1757. It had a dual function of growing pineapples and grapes. Pineapples were grown in a greenhouse on the south side of the heated wall and grapes grew on the north side inside of the walled garden. Unfortunately growing pineapples and grapes together required a lot of effort and was very expensive, therefore it was later abandoned. Presence of arches in the lower part of the pinery wall in Weston Park indicates that the vines were planted there and they could grow inside of the greenhouse as well as the other side of the heated wall. This early 19th century invention also allowed greater space for the roots of the vine. Nails inserted between the bricks allowed the vines to spread across the whole surface of the wall.

Greenhouses became more popular in Britain after the invention of the Wardian case in 1829 and abolition of the glass tax in 1845.This new development led to the fern craze (Pteridomania!) in Britain. Availability of cheap glass and invention of well sealed greenhouses allowed growing of tropical plants on a larger scale, even in the fumes filled London. Despite the popularity of the heated greenhouses and success of the pineapple growing, this type of horticulture was abandoned with the arrival of imported exotic fruit.

Today anyone interested in past horticulture and pineries can visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan and Tatton Park or the Pineapple Summerhouse at Dunmore. There are also other places which still have standing structures associated with pineapple growing, and perhaps in future they will be restored to bring crops of British grown pineapples!





Decorated clay pipe bowl

Decorated clay pipe bowl

By Cova Escandon, Finds Supervisor

On 27th of July 1586, Sir Walter Raleigh brought back three unknown weeds from one of his trips to the New World. They were the plants of potato, maize and tobacco.

Although tobacco was most likely to have been known in England before this date through Spanish and Portuguese sailors, Raleigh was the first person to introduce smoking as a fashionable habit in the court of Elizabeth I. Imagine the first time these courtesans saw smoke coming out of someone’s nose and mouth! It is said that one of Raleigh’s servants threw water on him thinking he was on fire.

Smoking soon became very popular, and it was even thought to be beneficial to health. It was highly recommended to heal conditions such as worms, halitosis and toothache. Even during the Great Plague (1665) it was thought to clean the air, so schoolboys at Eton College would smoke a pipe at breakfast.

But at the beginning of the 17th Century some voices started speaking against its use. One of them was King James I who wrote a famous text called ‘Counterblast to Tobacco’ where he condemned the use of the aforesaid plant. He also destroyed the crops existing in England and taxed severely the import from America.

Despite this, the use of tobacco continued to grow until the 1930s. It was around this time that clay pipe use declined due to competition from cigarettes.

The pipe bowl that we bring to you today was found in Lincoln and made at the Watkinson Clay Pipe Factory in Market Rasen. This factory was founded in 1843 by George Spencer Watkinson and it was very successful until 1893 when wooden pipes started being more popular. Watkinson’s son, George Spencer Watkinson Junior, wrote a journal of his memories of the factory and drew sketches describing the process of making clay pipes. This source of information is priceless as not much is known about this type of factory.

Back in those days, each factory would produce their own designs incorporating the name of the manufacturer or place of production. Our pipe bowl is beautifully decorated with a trophy, possibly related to horse racing, and what appears to be thistles and roses in a laurel crown. On the rim of the bowl you can read MARKET RASEN.

Interestingly, we know that the Watkinson Factory often used another design showing a chained slave on one side and the personification of Liberty on the other. This antislavery decoration is highly unusual in the tobacco industry, given its close relationship and dependence on the slavery system.

As you can see in the photograph, the stem of the pipe is missing. We actually often find them with short stems, or none at all, and one reason is that in the second half of the 19th Century, pubs would provide pipes for their clients to smoke: the customer would break the end of the stem, fill the bowl with tobacco and smoke, returning it to the landlord once he had finished. The next client would break the stem and start again.

This artefact not only is a beautiful piece of art, it is also a little window into our past.


In 2012 we carried out excavations on Lincoln’s High Street in advance of a retail development. The site revealed the presence of a ‘lost’ medieval alley way that took people from the docks on the Brayford to the shops and workshops of the High Street. Amongst the discoveries made were a medieval paint palette made from an oyster shell, locally made pottery and cobblestones which had been worn down by the carts that passed over them. We wanted to show how this small but busy neighbourhood could tell the story of medieval Lincoln and its thriving markets, the evidence for metalworking, weaving and baking and the affect that the Black Death and later the Civil War had on the town.

Front cover

The medieval street recreated by Pighill Illustration

In our new, fully illustrated book we do just that. The medieval High Street is recreated thanks to a digital reconstruction by Peter Lorimer of Pighill Illustration. Signposts through the text enable you to learn more about the archaeological evidence and a map help you to discover parts of medieval Lincoln that are still visible today.

The book is on sale at the SLHA bookshop, Jew’s Court, Steep Hill or via our website for £8.50 plus P&P



by Natasha Powers, Senior Manager

Even if you don’t work outside, you can’t have failed to notice it’s got a little chilly lately! On site the weather brings all sorts of challenges…one of which can be finding the trench that you’re pretty sure you left there yesterday…

Frozen trench

The aptly named Trench 13 is there somewhere…

Once located (hopefully without falling into knee deep icy water). Seeing the archaeology may still be a wee bit of a challenge.

Flooded trench with snow

Best get a context number for snow…

The only answer is to wrap up warm and wait for the weather to improve…oh…Look after yourselves out there folks

Snowy archaeologist

Intrepid Project Supervisor Dave in no way regretting his career choices

By Feenagh Johnson, Project Supervisor

At the end of last year, Allen Archaeology (Marine division) undertook a small excavation in the Market Town of Bourne, Lincolnshire.

The site at Bourne

The site at Bourne

Now I maybe biased, having grown up a mere stone’s throw away, but I already thought the site was pretty exciting… and then this little lady turned up in the first excavated feature. She was covered in mud and in many fragments but enough of her features were visible to identify a face, and it was the unusual form of her hair that gave her the nickname “Marion” (as the frills looked like a medieval headdress).

Finding Marion

Finding Marion

Muddy marion

A muddy Marion

Although similar to their better known cousins, the face pot, head pots are usually made of a fine fabric with the body of the vessel moulded into the form of human head. Their exact nature is uncertain but it has been postulated that they are ritual vessels, with another notable Lincolnshire example, the “DON MERCVRIO” head pot, being dedicated to the cult of Mercury.

The fully cleaned headpot

The fully cleaned headpot

However, the Bourne Head pot is unique; she is beautifully hand painted with a distinct hair style and facial features. It’s very possible that the vessel was “made to order” sometime in the 4th century AD, and it would be nice to think that she was modelled after an actual person before being ritually deposited… unfortunately we can only hypothesize!

illustration by C Bentley

illustration by C Bentley


Roman coin

By Yvonne Rose, Archives Supervisor (with thanks to Adam Daubney, Lincolnshire Finds Liaison Officer, for the original identification)

This month’s featured find is a lovely silver denarius recovered from a large site in North Lincolnshire.

The coin features Mark Anthony who was a Roman politician and general under Julius Caesar. It has been dated to 42 BC and is a quite rare example of the type. The obverse depicts Mark Antony’s bare head, and to the left of his portrait is a lituus – a symbol of augury. In ancient Rome, augurs were part of a college of priests whose duty was to interpret the will of the gods by observing natural signs, particularly the behaviour of birds. The reverse of the coin shows the radiate head of Sol, the Roman god of the sun. Interestingly, Mark Antony’s son by Cleopatra was named Alexander Helios; Helios being the personification of the sun in Greek mythology.

The coin, when new, would have borne a legend around the outer edge of the reverse. Now completely worn, it would have read M ANTONIVS III VIR R P C. This is the abbreviated form of “Marcus Antonius tresviri rei publicae constituendae”, which roughly translates to “Marcus Antonius, one of the three-man commission for restoring the constitution of the republic”. This commission was known as the Second Triumvirate and was the political alliance of Octavian (Caesar’s great nephew and adopted son), Marcus Aemilius Lepidus and Mark Antony. It was formed in November 43 BC, following Caesar’s assassination the previous year, with the intention of defeating his assassins, Brutus and Cassius, who had gained power in the eastern territories. It is possible this coin was minted to celebrate victory over the assassins in 42 BC.

Coins were manufactured using circular “blanks” of metal which would be warmed slightly to make them more malleable, and then placed within a metal die with the mould for one side of the coin on it. The metal die with the mould for the opposing side of the coin would be placed on top of the blank and then hit with a hammer. This is why many obverse and reverse sides of the coin don’t match up, as the die moulds weren’t necessarily lined up before hammering.

Coins were usually manufactured in static mints in towns, but this coin is likely to have been made in one of the military mints travelling with Mark Antony in Italy. As it was struck 81 years before Claudius invaded Britain, it makes it quite an intriguing find to have it made its way to North Lincolnshire!

Roman buckle

By Yvonne Rose, Archives Supervisor with Mike Wood, Project Manager and Finds Specialist

Our find of the month for October is a rather nice example of a Roman buckle. This type of triangular-shaped buckle dates to the second half of the 4th century and is found at predominantly military sites in Britain. Indeed, ours was found in Lincoln, just outside the east wall of the Roman city. In this period of history, buckles are still a relatively rare find, much less common than brooches.

The buckle was discovered together with other artefacts in the grave of an adult male. The other associated objects include a crossbow brooch, a small silver mount, a fragment of decorated copper strip which could be part of another brooch, the broken plate of a further buckle, as well as 10 iron nails which may indicate the presence of a coffin. All of these objects are typical of the burials of males from positions of authority in the late Roman Empire.

Buckles with triangular plates are known from both the late Roman and early Anglo-Saxon periods. Roman ones usually have openwork plates with D-shaped or, as with ours, kidney-shaped frames; whereas the Saxon ones tend more towards oval frames and solid plates.

The buckle is made from cast copper alloy and measures 50mm in length. The pin is present, as are three copper alloy rivets, one in each corner of the plate. From the junction with the frame, the arms of the plate extend to meet at a cleft terminal lobe with a pointed projection either side. The heart-shaped aperture of this buckle is particularly attractive.

German archaeologist H. W. Böhme studied buckles with integral triangular plates as part of his survey of late Roman artefacts in Britain, and the settlement of England by the earliest Anglo-Saxons (Böhme 1986, Liste 1, Abb. 5, Abb. 14). He dated them to the middle or second half of the 4th century and his map shows that they are found in small numbers not only in the British Isles but also along the European frontier of the Roman Empire, along the Rhine and Danube rivers.

Böhme, H W, 1986, Das Ende der Römerherrschaft in Britannien und die Angelsächische Besiedlung Englands im 5. Jahrhundert, Jahrbuch des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums Mainz 33 pt. 2

Chris Clay

Chris cracking the whip as Director (any resemblance to other archaeologists, living or dead, is purely coincidental)

What is your job role?

Director, for my sins

How long have you worked for Allen Archaeology?

Since the beginning…

How would describe your excavation technique?


How long have you been working in archaeology?

20 years, there or thereabouts

How did you get into archaeology?

I would probably have to blame Indiana Jones for that one

What is the best thing about your job?

I get to see all the shiny things without having to dig them up

Specialist skills?

Remembering site codes

Best site hut biscuit?

Well it is quite obviously the Bourbon biscuit. No question

How long have you worked for Allen Archaeology?

I have been working for the company as a PA for almost a month after completing my 3 month Traineeship through ‘Allen’.

How would describe your excavation technique?

After being given a feature to excavate, I like to ponder at the rather often ambiguous impressions on the ground (if there are any!) to establish a starting point. Or ‘Edge’ as a finicky Archaeologist would like to call it. I then use my trusty trowel and spade to scrape and dig away the mud that is almost identical, but not identical to, the mud surrounding it. Aka the ‘Fill’ and the ‘Cut’. During the time of excavation, I will sometimes over-analyse the hole I’m digging which helps me think about the bigger picture. It’s amazing how much the history and the apparent irony of a muddy hole can teach you!

How long have you been working in archaeology?

4-6 months

How did you get into archaeology?

I wouldn’t leave

What is the best thing about your job?

The awareness that people before you stood where you stand and lived their lives in the same world that would be totally unfamiliar to us.

Specialist skills?


Best site hut biscuit?

Caramelised Biscuits


Mark Allen, Director and founder of AAL

Having been volunteered to write a blog post on why Lincoln is such a good place to come and work it took me back to my first few days in the city back in 1997 (blimey, 20 years ago!).

I had just finished work on a pipeline and had my contract extended, with accommodation thrown in at Lincoln. Despite having previously lived in Nottinghamshire (the county immediately to the west of Lincolnshire) I had no idea where Lincoln was! I soon tracked it down, booked my train ticket and headed there. At the station I was picked up by my then employer and taken to the accommodation, where I had to wait until the owner was tracked down to a local hostelry where he was slightly the worse for wear. Welcome to Lincoln I thought…

At the time the University had not yet begun its major programme of expansion and Lincoln was not in very good shape. On my first evening I randomly ended up in a rather rough pub that did not do food, so ate some out of date stale crisps, drank a beer and retired for the night on a very empty stomach vowing to leave this place as soon as possible.

Now I realise this is not exactly winning you over, but bear with me….

In the next few years the University (in fact Lincoln has two) oversaw a major programme of expansion which also saw significant investment in the city by retailers, restaurants, and of course pubs: got to cater for the increase in thirsty students. Almost overnight the city was transformed into a vibrant place to be, whilst retaining its sense of character and heritage.

Lincoln Cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral – it’s pretty darn magnificent

The city is absolutely dominated by the Cathedral and to a lesser extent the castle, and these are located in the picturesque Bailgate area at the top of the hill (Lincolnshire is not flat!), which is steeped in Roman and later history. The Newport Arch is the only complete Roman gateway that you can still drive through. The quirky character of the city really shines through. Where else can you see the largest Steampunk festival in Europe one weekend and the next the famous clog and morris dancing festival (not to be missed!).


Steampunk in progress

This year Lincoln has been voted by university students as the cheapest place in the UK to live, and with its friendly vibe, really gets its hooks into you when you spend some time here. It is not quite on the tourist trail as is, say York, so you don’t get the heaving crowds in the summer, which is also nice.

So to summarise, come to Lincoln! It really is a great place, we have a top team of ultra-friendly people, and it’s cheap! Despite my initial foreboding, being here 20 years almost to the day, I cannot think of a better place to be.