CURRENT ARCHAEOLOGY 115
by Peter Halkon As a boy I gained an interest in archaeology through picking up sherds of Roman pottery on a sandy hilltop of my father's farm at Hasholme Hall, East Yorkshire. Little did I imagine that years later, I would discover an Iron Age log boat, only a hundred yards away from where my father showed me those first sherds.
The first archaeological discoveries reported in Holme were finds of Roman pottery vessels in the 1850s. At the turn of the century a Roman lead coffin was discovered, but stolen from outside the vicarage, where it has been used as a horse trough! The first excavation was at Throlam in the 1930s by Corder and Sheppard.
The revival of interest in the area was largely due to John Bartlett of Hull Museum, who was informed of further finds by Mr. Alan Johnson of Bursea House. Alan Johnson's enthusiasm continues to be an impetus to our work. It was he who suggested that i t might be worthwhile for the East Riding Archaeological Society (ERAS) to dig at Hasholme Hall, which they did in 1970/1. This was my first experience of excavation and several Roman pottery kilns and the ditches of an Iron Age settlement were found. In 1975, our last year at Hasholme Hall, I picked up a Graig Llwyd polished stone axe while gathering small potatoes that had fallen off the back of the machine.
After reading Ancient and Medieval History and Archaeology at Liverpool University I returned to East Yorkshire to take up a teaching post. In 1980, inspired by Peter Armstrong, then of the Humberside Archaeological Unit, I initiated a systematic survey of my old home area, with the help of the newly formed Field Study Group of
ERAS, knowing it to be of much greater archaeological potential then hitherto supposed.
Holme on Spalding Moor appears in Domesday as "Holm", an island in the marshland, and it certainly lived up to its name. The project has shown that the modern landscape, created largely by intensive arable farming and modern drainage, once consisted of sandy ridges rising out of a large wetland area.
Early fieldwalking, concentrated around Hasholme and Bursea showed that the area was the scene of intensive industry in the Iron Age and Roman periods. There was an extensive Roman pottery industry on ridges of windblown sand near the River Foulness. We also found large quantities of iron slag, known by the farmers as "Nos¬ mun" because it was once thought to be the work of the Norsemen; our researches suggested that most of it was Iron Age. At Bursea House glass frit was also found which proved later to be Roman. The presence of worked flints showed that there has been prehistoric activity here also.
In 1982 I was introduced to Dr
Martin Millett of Durham University Department of Archaeology with a view to tying in a programme of sample research excavation with sites selected from fieldwalking. The first of these was carried out at Bursea House the following year. Several kilns were found as well as stratified evidence for iron and glass manufacture.
In 1987 further excavation was carried out at Bursea House on a small scale by myself and ERAS members. Whilst hand digging a drain across his vegetable patch Mr. Johnson had found some pottery quite unlike any found in the previous seasons. This was identified by Peter Didsbury as being a wheel-thrown Late Iron Age vessel of a type similar to those found at Dragonby, south of the Humber.
In the meantime, I expanded the survey area to an 8 x 8km block with the aim of fieldwalking a representative sample of the area itself and each soil type within it. I was very lucky in the enthusiastic support in this exercise of ERAS members, Bransholme High School students and members of my Adult Education classes, who braved some inclement weather over three