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Pottery from Peckwater Quad, Christ Church, Oxford
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Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Sat Apr 13th, 2013 03:04 pm
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Damn!!! Just missed this. Let's hope there's some further coverage in due course:

http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/events/Wallingford/841800.Talk___Life__death_and_alchemy_in_medieval_Oxford/

"A group of medieval pottery and glass vessels recovered during the construction of a service trench in Peckwater Quad, Christ Church, may be related to the practice of alchemy. This talk will provide an overview of the archaeological evidence for alchemical activity at Oxford and provide some historic context for this practice."

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Sat Apr 13th, 2013 10:21 pm
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How annoying, that sounds very interesting. 

The problem with identifying vessels as having been used for alchemical purposes is that not a lot survives well underground.  In some conditions plant matter might, and in others inorganic compounds or damage appropriate to, say, distillation of acid or mercuric compounds might survive, but it would take a careful study.

(Which I could do, if anyone want's to fund it)

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Sat Apr 13th, 2013 10:59 pm
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
How annoying, that sounds very interesting. 

The problem with identifying vessels as having been used for alchemical purposes is that not a lot survives well underground.  In some conditions plant matter might, and in others inorganic compounds or damage appropriate to, say, distillation of acid or mercuric compounds might survive, but it would take a careful study.

(Which I could do, if anyone want's to fund it)


Fig. 25 in this rather large document here shows some of the pieces:

http://tinyurl.com/cknlj4c

The 2005/6 dig is also referenced in this document here:

http://www.academia.edu/1236807/Alchemy_in_Archaeology

Last edited on Sat Apr 13th, 2013 11:20 pm by Paul Ferguson

Gwilym Williams
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 Posted: Mon Apr 15th, 2013 04:21 pm
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The remains which were found by John Moore Heritage Services came from a garderobe which appears to have been a part of an inn of residence (Vine Hall), on Vine Hall St, now lost, but on the line of Alfred St off the High in Oxford.

The garderobe was excavated under difficult conditions - a watching brief - so the archaeologist was there almost under sufferance.  The work has been published now, but focusses primarily on the archaeological data, which is perhaps the earliest dataset from the UK, and surprisingly one of the larger.  It appears to comprise the wholesale clearance of a laboratory.  It must be assumed that the materials are not unrelated to the later assemblage from the Old Ashmolean (now the Museum of the History of Science) on Broad St.

I am sure I can provide images if anyone wants.

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Mon Apr 15th, 2013 04:32 pm
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Gwilym Williams wrote:
The remains which were found by John Moore Heritage Services came from a garderobe which appears to have been a part of an inn of residence (Vine Hall), on Vine Hall St, now lost, but on the line of Alfred St off the High in Oxford.

The garderobe was excavated under difficult conditions - a watching brief - so the archaeologist was there almost under sufferance.  The work has been published now, but focusses primarily on the archaeological data, which is perhaps the earliest dataset from the UK, and surprisingly one of the larger.  It appears to comprise the wholesale clearance of a laboratory.  It must be assumed that the materials are not unrelated to the later assemblage from the Old Ashmolean (now the Museum of the History of Science) on Broad St.

I am sure I can provide images if anyone wants.


Welcome Gwilym.

Chadwick et al available here:

http://tinyurl.com/c92er3c

The Old Ashmolean finds were of course discussed by MMT in Ambix last year:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22701934

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Mon Apr 15th, 2013 04:36 pm
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Gwilym, is it possible to tell us where it was published?  I'm interested especially in the skillet with acid damage and the dating of it all, the problem is that your article in the diggers forum newsletter references an unpublished client report, which is not so helpful for wannabe historians of alchemy, science and related equipment such as myself. 
And do you know if it is possible to view the finds?  Pictures are a start, but you can't beat getting your hands on them yourself for finding things out. 

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Mon Apr 15th, 2013 04:46 pm
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
Gwilym, is it possible to tell us where it was published?   

Now available here:

http://tinyurl.com/c92er3c

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Tue Apr 16th, 2013 08:28 pm
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Paul Ferguson wrote: Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
Gwilym, is it possible to tell us where it was published?   

Now available here:

http://tinyurl.com/c92er3c


This might appear pretty stupid or something, but I can't see any way of getting more than the front page.  I've joined the website, am logged in and everything, but all I see or can download is the front page.

So thanks for the link, maybe the problem is at my end, or maybe that is all that has been uploaded?

Paul Ferguson
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 Posted: Tue Apr 16th, 2013 09:07 pm
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
Paul Ferguson wrote: Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
Gwilym, is it possible to tell us where it was published?   

Now available here:

http://tinyurl.com/c92er3c


This might appear pretty stupid or something, but I can't see any way of getting more than the front page.  I've joined the website, am logged in and everything, but all I see or can download is the front page.

So thanks for the link, maybe the problem is at my end, or maybe that is all that has been uploaded?


Sorry, a blind alley...

Perhaps Gwilym can help?

Gwilym Williams
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 Posted: Tue Apr 16th, 2013 09:22 pm
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Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote: Paul Ferguson wrote: Alexander Guthrie Stewart wrote:
Gwilym, is it possible to tell us where it was published?   

Now available here:

http://tinyurl.com/c92er3c


This might appear pretty stupid or something, but I can't see any way of getting more than the front page.  I've joined the website, am logged in and everything, but all I see or can download is the front page.

So thanks for the link, maybe the problem is at my end, or maybe that is all that has been uploaded?
Yes, sorry Alexander that is all that has been uploaded at the moment as the report has just been published and JMHS needs to sell some copies. 

You can contact JMHS regarding a copy - which i believe is about £20 +p&p.  The grey literature report will eventually find its way to the ADS website http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/greylit/ in the next year or so, but this will be without much of the detail of the full publication. 

An alternative is to approach Paul Blinkhorn about the pottery report.

I'm sorry that I can't help more but you can always contact John Moore on jm[at]jmheritageservices[dot]co[dot]uk about the book and possible digital release.

I shall try and upload some photos of the assemblages shortly.  I am out on site all week.

The finds have now been deposited at Oxfordshire County Museum Services at Standlake, which you can visit; a booking should assure you access.

And adding to Paul Ferguson's post about Marcos' paper in Ambix http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/1117/1/Hamilton-Dyer_Output_2.pdf is the original (publication) site report. 

Gwyl

Last edited on Tue Apr 16th, 2013 09:36 pm by Gwilym Williams

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Wed Apr 17th, 2013 10:14 am
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Ah, no thanks, all I need is information that it has been published and your post gives me enough to follow up. 

Thanks for the location of storage as well, I was wondering about that, but don't know whether I'll get down there or not at some point in the future. 

Also thank you for the link to the site report on the 18th century labware; it is very interesting. 


Edited to improve and correct. 

Last edited on Wed Apr 17th, 2013 06:17 pm by Alexander Guthrie Stewart

Alexander Guthrie Stewart
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 Posted: Wed Apr 17th, 2013 06:41 pm
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It also occured to me that the alembics have another purpose - distillation of wine.  That was getting popular by the early 14th century in Europe, maybe this is the earliest evidence for making spirits? 

Gwilym Williams
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 Posted: Thu Apr 18th, 2013 02:51 pm
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The thought seems to be that the metallurgical and spirit distillation as well as medicinal preparation of extracts all went hand in hand; as a consequence some excavators have preferred to stay away from alchemy and deal with the apparatus in a more purely functionalist fashion, eschewing any mention of alchemy.  The excavations at Spitalfields also recovered some remains, I believe.


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