24 – 25 May 2008 (Bangor)

7th Meeting of the Implement Petrology Group

Held at Bangor Museum (Oriel Gwynedd)

Present: Dr R Vin Davis (Chair) (RVD), Dr Alison Sheridan (Secretary) (JAS), Dr Torben Ballin (TB; new member), Dr Steve Burrow (SB), David Dawson (DD), Dr Dave Field (DF), Dr Heather Jackson, Dr David Jenkins (DJ), Dr Mik Markham (MM) and guest, Dr Fiona Roe (FR) and guest, Rosemary Stewart (as guest), Dr Joan Taylor (JT) and guest, Dr Pete Topping (PT) and Dr John Llewellyn Williams (JLW). Jane Kenney jointed the Group for the Saturday afteroon field trip.

1. Apologies for absence
Professors Gabriel Cooney, Barry Cunliffe, Tim Darvill, Mark Edmonds and Colin Richards, Dr Stephen Briggs, Tom Clare, Jon Clatworthy, David Dawson, Allison Fox, Dr Mike Heyworth, Dr Rob Ixer, Dr Frances Lynch, Dr Yvan Pailler, Jamie Quartermaine, Dr Ann Woodward, and Dave Weddle.

2. Minutes of 6th meeting, York, 10th November 2007
Approved and signed by the Chair as an accurate record.

3. Matters arising (not covered elsewhere on the agenda)

3.1 JT reported that the SW Federation of Museums & Art Galleries had successfully marked the 80th birthday of Nick Thomas (Former Chair of the SW Federation).

3.2 JAS reported that the Sheffield University conference organised by Dr Patrick Quinn, Petrography of Archaeological Materials (15–16 February 2008), had passed off successfully; most of the papers had been concerned with ceramic petrology. For details, see http://www.ceramicpetrography.com (and note that Dr Quinn teaches a course on archaeological petrology at Sheffield University). The intended IPG poster had not (to JAS’ knowledge) materialised, nor had the hotlink been made from the IPG website to the Ceramic Petrology Group website yet; RVD/ME to arrange.

3.3 For further information on the Clwyd-Powys Trust’s forthcoming excavations in September & October 2008 at Hyssington (Shotton, Chitty & Seaby’s picrite source, used to manufacture axe-hammers), as previously mentioned by SB, see: http://www.cpat.org.uk/projects/longer/hyssing/diary/diary.htm.

4. Officers’ reports

i) Chair: see annotated copy of the Chair’s Report, attached herewith, and note that this covers Agenda Items 6 (York Conference e-Transactions and Stone Axe Studies III) and 7 (Development of the IPG Website and Network, in response to the IPG 2007 York conference). RVD also tabled a set of relevant publications (for a list of which, see the separate document ‘Documents displayed for reference…’). Dr Torben Ballin was welcomed as a new member of the Group.

ii) Secretary: JAS confirmed that there was nothing to report.

iii) Treasurer: No formal report had been prepared, but RVD passed on TC’s reminder for all who had not yet paid their £5 annual membership fee. The perennial problem of the need for additional funds to cover the rolling maintenance costs of the website (eg domain name), and other non-negligible costs, was mentioned. Action: Committee to consider possibilities for funding.

5. Members’ business & reports (not covered elsewhere on the agenda or in the Chair’s report)

5.1 DF reported on the successful AHRC application, by English Heritage with York University, to establish a PhD to work on the Grime’s Graves Landscape Project. The candidate was due to start work shortly. IPG would have a role as a provider of information, and the IPG website could be used to advertise the project and record its progress. (Action: DF to liaise with ME to organise this.) Also on Grime’s Graves, PT reported that: i) a research strategy for G’Ss had been produced, with Frances Healy concentrating on chronological issues; a priority would be to obtain as much new dating evidence as possible (including trawling spoil heap material for samples, and obtaining dates from antlers that had been found in situ in the pit excavated by Greenwell; a further priority was to look for signs of associated settlement in the area (as tackled by the AHRC-funded PhD); ii) plans were underway to investigate an area in advance of the building of a new visitors’ toilet block. £15,000 had been put aside to fund this work.

5.2 JAS reported on progress with the international research project on Alpine axeheads, Projet JADE: plans were afoot to gather all the remaining British and Irish specimens for a final session of analysis, to be held at the British Museum during the first week of November 2008. The project was due to end with a conference in Besançon in September 2009 and a publication. For further information, see http://msh.univ-fcomte.fr/jade.

5.3 JT gave notice of the South Western Implement Petrology Group Day School at Torquay Museum on 20 September 2008, to which all would be welcomed. (Note added subsequently by JAS: For details of the SW Implement Petrology Group – a Subject Specialist area of the SW Federation ¬– see http://www.swfed.org.uk/subject/ipg/ipg.html.)

5.4 HJ reported that the Open University’s PXRF equipment had expired and the OU currently lack funding for a replacement. Action: HJ to email Peter Webb for more information.

5.5 FR commented on the need to investigate the amphibolite implements in the SAS II database in order to clarify their relationship with nephrite implements and wristguards, for example. She reported that Peter Webb and John Watson (at the OU) had identified a amphibolite rock source in S Wales; and FR has also identified another amphibolite rock source in the Charnwood Forest (RVD: Beacon Hill??). RVD suggested the need to look more broadly, to include tremolite/actinolite rocks and serpentenites. Actions: HJ offered to host a petrological workshop for implement petrologists at the National Museum, Cardiff, later in 2008 (HJ, MM, RI, DJ, FR, RVD + others interested). RVD to produce and circulate a list of the thin sections listed in SAS II for possible examination and to gather appropriate thin sections from NMH slide collection; FR to collect similar from SW slide collection in Taunton; ditto HJ from NMW thin section collection. Note subsequently added by JAS: Rob Ixer has now examined thin sections from some of the wristguards in question, and these and others have been analysed by Projet JADE, using reflectance spectrometry.

6. Review of Publications
i. York Conference e-Transactions
ii. SAS III): see annotated version of Chair’s Report

7. Developing the IPG Website and Network
See annotated version of Chair’s Report

8. AOB
8.1 DJ tabled a paper describing Cosmogenic Nuclides: Dating of rock surface exposure. A method of dating developed and used with some success in mainly geomorphological research, but with possible potential for dating rock surfaces in archaeology. Expensive (c£ £600 per sample). Looking to identify 6 sites nationally for comparative study using new technique. MM suggested that the Whin Sill (Group XVIII) might provide a good case study for this dating technique.

8.2 PT reminded the Group about the forthcoming session, From Tools to Tombs: the Creation of Identities in Stone, at the World Archaeology Conference, Dublin, 29 June – 4 July 2008, organised by Pete Topping, François Giligny and Gabriel Cooney (see www.ucd.ie/wac6).

10. Date & venue for next meetings
i. 15 November 2008, at York, was proposed (subject to confirmation by Mark Edmonds). Note: This was subsequently delayed to 10 January 2009.
ii. 16–17 May 2009: two venues were proposed: i) Tievebulliagh, Co. Antrim: Gabriel Cooney was to be asked whether this was feasible, perhaps in association with the N Ireland Archaeological Forum; ii) DJ proposed a visit to the Bronze Age copper mines at Great Orme’s Head, together with a study of the stone mining tools from the site.


Following the meeting, two field trips were undertaken: on Saturday afternoon, SB & HJ led a visit to the Mynydd Rhiw stone extraction site; and on Sunday morning, DJ and JLlW led a visit to the Graig Lwyd stone extraction site, Penmaenmawr. RVD led the warm thanks to all these individuals for their hard work.

Leave a Reply