‘Humans and Animals in Roman Winchester and Beyond’ – Talk by Prof. Mark Maltby

Mark Maltby, Professor in Archaeology at Bournemouth University, has given a talk in Winchester on 'Humans and Animals in Roman Winchester and Beyond'. Prof. Mark Maltby is the editor of Winchester Studies volume 9.ii The Animals of Early Winchester.

There were significant changes in how animals were exploited in Roman Britain. The study of animal bones from sites of this period along with other archaeological evidence has shed new light on diets, husbandry practices, butchery methods and the ritual use of animals.  This talk focuses on some of these developments focusing particularly on zooarchaeological evidence from Winchester and other sites in southern England.

Prof. Maltby graduated in Prehistory and Archaeology at the University of Sheffield; he was a Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology at Southampton for 13 years and has been a lecturer at Bournemouth University for over 30 years. His major research interests revolve around zooarchaeology. Mark has carried out a large numbers of research programmes on sites of all periods from the Mesolithic onwards, both in Britain and Europe, as far east as Russia and as far south as Malta. He is particularly interested in how zooarchaeology can be incorporated into studies of Roman and medieval towns. Mark has published widely on human-animal relationships in Iron Age and Roman Britain. He has specific interests and resultant publications on the history of butchery practices, the use of salt in preserving meat, and the exploitation of birds.

The slides for the talk are available here.

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Launch of WS 10 ‘Environment and Agriculture of Early Winchester’

Our latest Winchester Excavations Committee publication, 'Environment and Agriculture of Early Winchester', which is volume 10 in the Winchester Studies series, was launched at The ARC in Winchester on Friday 29th April. The book is available now from Archaeopress, as either an e-book or a printed publication. This marks the first time a Winchester Studies volume has been made available as an e-book upon publication. We are very grateful to Archaeopress for all their hard work in facilitating this. Thank you also to all who supported the publication of this volume and attended the event in Winchester.


This new comprehensive survey of Winchester’s past environments shows that from Roman times onwards the citizens of Winchester had ready supplies of orchard crops including apples, pears, damsons, plums, and cherries, probably grown within the city walls, as well as sloes, nuts and blackberries harvested from the hedgerows; royal visitors and the bishops also enjoyed grapes (and wine) and figs. Documentary sources reveal that the Bishops of Winchester had vineyards from the thirteenth century onwards; they were so plentiful in the south side of the city that a church there was named All Saints in the Vines. These studies also show that whilst in early Roman times bread was made from spelt, from the later Roman period increasingly bread wheat similar to what we use today was probably threshed and initially processed at rural farms such as at Owslebury, where evidence of these activities have been found. By the thirteenth century, at least nine watermills were operating for general use in Winchester as well as additional ones supplying the Bishop’s Palace at Wolvesey and the Cathedral monastery. Records show corn came for milling from Andover, Avington, Barton Stacey, Baybridge (near Owslebury), Botley, Clatford, Crawley, East Meon, Hurstbourne, King’s Worthy, Nerdon, Overton, Stockbridge, and Winnall.

Winchester’s participation in the international trading networks of the Roman Empire is demonstrated by the presence of a range of exotic plants including the Mediterranean stone pine which may well have been imported specifically to be burnt as part of Roman temple rituals. In a medieval deposit at Lower Brook Street were found two peach stones which are most likely to have been imported at this period. This was not a high-status area at the time so perhaps one of the people living there worked at Castle for example, where medieval royalty often came. Comparison of the two sites reveal that the garderobes of the Castle were frequently cleared out whereas the pits used for the disposal of human waste in the Brooks area were not. This failure whilst of benefit to archaeobotanists probably contributed to the ill health of the ordinary citizens of Winchester, including the spread of the Black Death and other medieval plagues that reduced the population of Winchester from 10,000 to 6,000.

Documentary sources reveal that as well as those at the Castle there were extensive gardens at the Bishop’s Palace at Wolvesey where fruit and vegetables were grown on a considerable scale and sold for cash under the direction of a gardener, who, in the 1290s, had an annual salary of £3 15s. 10 (c. £3125 today). Excavations at the site revealed a feature which does not appear to in the documentary record but seems to have been a raised garden from where the first Norman bishop, William Giffard (1109–29) could have admired the building of the current Cathedral.

As well as reviewing a range of documentary evidence Winchester Studies 10: The Environment and Gardens of Early Winchester (edited by Professor Martin Biddle, Lady Jane Renfrew and Dr Patrick Ottaway) analyses seeds, pollen grains, plants, mosses, wood and insects preserved from waterlogged sites across the city, and also deposits of preserved grains carbonised accidentally. An analysis of carbonised grains in the moulds used in the medieval period to cast bells, revealed that the clay had been strengthened by the inclusion of horse manure – shown by the presence of oats and chaff which at this time were regularly fed to horses.

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Environment front cover

New publication: ‘Environment and Agriculture of Early Winchester’

This wide-ranging study describes the natural environment of Winchester and its immediate surroundings from the late Iron Age to the early post-medieval period. Historical and archaeological evidence consider humanity's interactions with the environment, fashioning agricultural, gardening and horticultural regimes over a millennium and a half.

More information on this latest volume from The Winchester Excavations Committee can be found here.

Available to purchase from Archaeopress.

Environment front cover

Licoricia statue unveiled in Winchester

A statue of Licoricia has been unveiled in Winchester. This is the culmination of work which has built on evidence discovered by Derek Keene and colleagues during the course of their research for Winchester Studies 2, Survey of Medieval Winchester, in which brief details appear.

Click on the link below for more information:



Progress made on digitisation programme

The first of our Winchester Studies volumes to be digitised is now available with Oxford based publishers, Archaeopress. You can read WS 3.ii The Roman Cemetery at Lankhills online (free of charge), or purchase a print on demand copy. Both options can be accessed via Archaeopress’ website. The full backlist of Winchester Studies volumes will be available in this way shortly, subject to funding being secured.

This marks a milestone in our long-time goal to digitise our published volumes, and enable the results of our excavations to be more widely accessible. We have been exploring options for digitisation since the early stages of technology development, but the large scale and complex nature of our results, especially of our illustrations (many of which run across long fold-out sheets) were not immediately amenable to digital reproduction.

Our collaboration with Archaeopress has overcome these obstacles, as they have handled all complexities innovatively and with care, ensuring important facets like scale and pagination are maintained throughout.

To find out more about WS 3.ii The Roman Cemetery at Lankhills see our publications page here.


On the 1979 edition of WS 3.ii The Roman Cemetery at Lankhills:

The excavation and report on the Lankhills cemetery is something of a landmark. It is a lesson to Roman archaeologists about what they have been missing through neglect of their cemetery sites, and also a lesson to every-one engaged in cemetery site studies, whatever their period, in how to analyse and present their evidence to maximum advantage. This model publication will be an indispensable work of reference for many years to come. – Dr Sonia Hawkes, Times Literary Supplement (1980)

Our work to receive a generous grant from HCC

We are very pleased that Hampshire County Council has awarded a substantial grant of up to £200,000 to go towards the completion of our publications on the city of Winchester.

This grant will support our team to finish writing up and preparing the results of our decade-long programme of archaeological excavation in Winchester, for publication in the acclaimed Winchester Studies volumes.

So far, we have nine published volumes, with eight to go (two currently with our publishers). These volumes document the development of the city of Winchester from Roman times through to post-medieval, drawing on archaeological, historical, literary, architectural, and artistic evidence. More information on our volumes can be found here.

Courtesy of the Hampshire Chronicle



Archaeopress Alert – 35% discount on all titles, including Winchester Studies

We’re very pleased to update that WS 3.ii The Roman Cemetery at Lankhills, first published in 1979, is now available online with Archaeopress, to download free of charge, or purchase as print-on-demand. We are working with Archaeopress to make the full backlist of Winchester Studies volumes available in this way.

In addition to this, Archaeopress are offering a 35% discount across all their titles as part of their Black Friday promotion. Be sure to take advantage of this exciting discount by the end-of-day Sunday 5 December.

With Christmas approaching, this is a great opportunity to purchase books for friends and family interested in archaeology of all periods and geographic locations. Browse by subject or series via Archaeopress’ website.

If you’d like to purchase a print-on-demand copy of the Lankhills volume, then please remember to make use of the 35% discount.

Please use the code BLACKFRIDAY.

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Hyde 900’s King Alfred Weekend 22–24 October 2021

Hyde900’s annual King Alfred Weekend, held close to the anniversary of King Alfred’s death on October 26 899 AD, brings together events and activities which celebrate the rich and varied story of Hyde Abbey, where King Alfred was buried in 1110.

The weekend will start with a lecture by Professor Martin Biddle, 'Eureka Moments', charting his most memorable moments during his many years of archaeology. See https://www.winchesterstudies.org.uk/eureka-moments-talk-by-professor-martin-biddle/

Venue: St Bartholomew’s Church, King Alfred Place, Hyde, SO23 7DN

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