Denise Payne summarises an informative and enjoyable talk on the environmental archaeology of the Wylye valley.
After a particularly wet and inauspicious day, the evening of the 6th March cleared through sufficiently to ‘winkle’ (hope you got that!) a full house of some 50 DAG members and friends to the village hall for the 3rd of our winter lectures, which was given by Dr Mike Allen of AEA: Allen Environmental Archaeology, based in nearby Codford.
Entitled ‘Prehistory and the changing land-use and environment of the Wylye Valley’, Mike delivered a very brisk (definitely not snail-paced), illuminating and entertaining talk, illustrated with a very informative selection of slides, graphs and photos showing the prehistoric settlement and burials associated with the Wylye Valley.
It was particularly interesting to see where these are located in relation to the ancient routeways, many of which we still use today, together with land use and the farming methods utilised over the millennia from Prehistoric times up until the Romans arrived (beyond which Mike considers far too modern) which have changed the environment from ancient woodland to grassland – all aided by his conchology expertise and research. He explained how he obtains samples of snails and processes them in his lab in order to help ascertain the land usage at the time they existed, and he brought a number of examples which were passed round the assembled meeting for all to see, together with a microscope so the members could have a closer look at the specimens.
In conclusion, Chairman David Croot said that Mike had kindly offered to lead a walk for members to help illustrate the prehistory and changing land usage in our own Deverill Valley – a date has yet to be determined, but watch out for more news in the coming months!
Blog by Denise Payne. Photos by Mike Stanley.