Friday, May 27, 2016

Muskets, military and mayhem

As week two draws to a close, we look at some of the great finds uncovered so far this season. We’ve reached the Roman level, planned and levelled the site, and even found a beautiful Roman brooch. By extending the trench, we've uncovered part of a Georgian garden and a musket ball that probably fell through demolished houses during the civil war.

Figure 1. Musket Ball from end of Trench 8
Along with this musket ball, there were at least fifty pistol shots, evidence of a shoot-out by the church and tower walls, tying the archaeology to the civil war battle that occurred at Berkeley, between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians!

Figure 2. Painting of Berkeley Castle
Written accounts from Prince Rupert to Coronel Rainsborough on 23rd of September 1645 note the siege of the castle, taking it for the Parliamentarians (Wroughton, 2000).

Figure 3. Royalist Pike men verses Parliamentarian cavalry   
The Berkeley’s were Royalists, but the garrison stationed at Berkeley were known to take their supplies from the locals, frequently killing live-stock (Wroughton, 2000). In response, townsfolk would conduct armed patrols around the country-side to protect their livelihood (Wroughton, 2000). Berkeley Castle’s Governor complained to Prince Rupert as the people would simple “Knock them [soldiers] down”, at one point they even killed six royalist cavalry men with a combined attack (Wroughton, 2000)!
It is these moments in archaeology, when both the artefacts and archival records are combined, when we can really gain a sense of living history.

Reference:
Wroughton J. 2000, An Unhappy Civil War: The Experience of Ordinary People in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire, 1642-1646, The Lansdown Press; Bath p. 130-140.
Illustrations:
Berkeley Castle 2016, About Berkeley Castle, Brighterside, http://www.berkeley-castle.com/index.php [Accessed: 27th May 2016].

-Alice Woods.  

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