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Ancient artefacts uncovered from beneath Johnny’s feet

February 24th, 2021
Old Monmothian, Johnny Crawford, is a project manager at the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust

Some of the earliest known flint tools in the county have been returned to the school at which they were discovered.

An archaeologist, who worked on the project, says he was unaware of the artefacts that lay beneath his feet as he sat in his History lessons in the late 1980s.

Johnny Crawford, now a project manager at the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust, was delighted to return to his old school to drop off some of the findings.

He was involved in the work that took place in 2012 as the Red Lion block made way for the construction of the impressive William Jones Building on the quad at the historic heart of Monmouth School for Boys.

Mr Crawford said a lot of pottery and iron slag had been found because Monmouth was a very significant producer of iron during the Roman period as part of the Forest of Dean iron production area.

“It was an intensive programme of work that we did in 2012 and the majority of finds relate to the Roman occupation of Monmouth and the later medieval occupation,” explained Mr Crawford.

“The Roman finds were contained within a number of ditches and pits. We recovered the oldest known flint tools from Monmouth and indeed some of the earliest known from the county itself (Early Mesolithic, no later than 7,900 BC) as well as Roman brooches, coins, and pottery.

“One of the Samian pottery pieces has an ownership graffito on it which is believed to be scratched by a woman.  This was a particularly nice thing to find and quite unusual for Monmouth.”The Old Monmothian added: “In terms of the medieval period, we found a lot of pottery which probably contained food that had been consumed by the workers who were producing iron in the area.

“This medieval pottery contains part of an exceptionally fine jug that dates to the later part of the 13th Century or early 14th Century and represents almost the height of the potters art at this time.

“We didn’t find any buildings, but we found drinking vessels, a lot of animal bones and possible signs of leather working and bone artefacts.”

Mr Crawford returned to his old school to deliver the artefacts and was greeted by the Headmaster, Mr Simon Dorman, and the Senior Deputy Head Academic (Professional Development), Mrs Liz Gregory.

Mr Crawford added: “Having been a pupil at Monmouth, it was an exciting prospect to carry out archaeological work in the footprint of the building in which I studied A level History.

“Little did I realise, as I sat in my History lessons in the old Red Lion block in the late 1980s, that one day I would be excavating and then reporting on all the amazing things that lay under my feet.”

“It’s important to bring artefacts to life so that future generations of pupils at Monmouth can understand about the history of the site and the history of the place where they received their education.”

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