Some time ago I put together a document attempting to list all of the known archaeological activity in and around Caistor St. Edmund. Whilst doing this Will mentioned that a Michael Brely had dug a kiln outside the north wall of Venta but that it had never been written up. I had never heard of this gentleman so not unnaturally my curiosity was piqued. I discovered that the Brely archive had been accessioned by the Museum so there was a good chance that the material was in store somewhere within the Museum service.
Enquiries led us to Nat who had diligently recorded the whereabouts of various boxes of Brely related material whilst working at the Shirehall. As she was due to be there again last week, and aware that access might otherwise be difficult owing to staffing levels, I took the opportunity to join her for a root around the basement.
There was insufficient time during the course of one afternoon to examine all of the Brely material but it appears that there has been several accessions over a number of years. Suffice to say that there is a fair amount of it, including both documents and finds. There is paperwork relating to the above-mentioned excavation of the kiln but what particularly caught my eye was his detailed notes recording the steady destruction of the site under ploughing between 1961 and 1972. Doing that time he field walked the area within the walls recording the level of damage in different sectors, handily shown on a drawing in one of his notebooks. Seems as though Scheduling of this particular site wasn’t all that effective!
Of particular interest in addition to the above was the fact that Brely made a record of all of the coins that he picked up during his field walking so that I now have another 254 Roman coins to add to the growing data we have on coin loss in and around Caistor. More to follow on this subject.