'However, it is possible to envisage legitimate research enquiries which are not supported by the current fragmented systems. There might be value, for example, in finding all hearths, or all storage pits. This is rarely possible at present.' (Richards and Hardman 2008, 106)

The quote, with regard to the lack of effective interoperability between single-context recording forms from different organisations, corresponds to one of the key aims of the STAR project and offers a useful starting focus, as the Silchester article considers the uses and development of various kinds of hearths within buildings.

'To the south-west of the site of the retained hearth from Period 2 was a second, small hearth (4216)... This hearth had been cut through by Late Roman well 1044
The two tiled hearths, located in an area that was partitioned off from the rest of the internal space, are a conspicuous feature of the building. Such hearths are not otherwise represented in the adjacent and contemporary masonry town houses, which suggests that the building performed a service function where food preparation/cooking was important.' Clarke et al. 2007 - Period 3: Early Roman Timber Building 4 section

An initial search in the Demonstrator (Contexts tab) for hearth shows:

Context Type = hearth 
Returned = 100+ results: 25 LEAP , 44 OASIS, 30 RRAD, 100+ MoLA ROP

Of the 25 contexts returned from LEAP data, context 4216 is present (although described as a 'Group number for hearth' by the LEAP notes). In addition to the large number of returns from MoLA Royal Opera House, there are 44 returns from the OASIS grey literature, which suggests this is a relatively well-represented archaeological feature (with fairly standard terminology, even in free text OASIS reports).

Further refining the query (the Demonstrator is a prototype of an interactive research tool enabling an enquiry to be developed and refined) gives:

Context Type = hearth > Contains ContextFind
Returned = 42 results: 14 LEAP, 16 OASIS, 4 RRAD, 8 MoLA ROP

Pursuing an investigation in the LEAP dataset of particular find types associated with hearths:

Site = LEAP, Context Type = hearth > Contains ContextFind = Coin
Returned = 1 result: 1 LEAP  

we see that one result comes from LEAP – a silver coin from a hearth, south-east of round house 5570 and 'apparently contemporary with at least the later phases of round house occupation'.

Does this conceptual pattern occur in any of the grey literature held within the Demonstrator?

Site = OASIS, Context Type = hearth > Contains ContextFind = Coin
Returned = 2 results: 2 OASIS

Two coins associated with hearths, both of Romano-British dates, come from one OASIS source, a Desk Based Assessment of Doncaster Racecourse in 2004, by Archaeological Investigations, which includes a review of published and unpublished sources. A search across all the data sources returns the same three results. An animation of this search within the Demonstrator is available.

These results are indicative of the sort of (re)search that is possible. The data returned should not be considered definitive, and indeed, most of the datasets have in some ways been subsampled; results are only possible within the limits of the current data. Nevertheless, it demonstrates that the original research aim has been achieved - enabling cross search using conceptual (ontology) relationships, with regard to different datasets and also the OASIS grey literature via information extraction. It also illustrates the basic search strategy of investigating whether a pattern within one data source can be found in other datasets or grey literature reports.

The LEAP data record for the coin within hearth example shows that the context is part of the group record 'Timber building pre-dating circular structure' (Group ID 50033) . A further search on groups containing hearths returns 98 results from across the data and in particular 10 from LEAP. Another way to broaden the search is to consider other likely finds associated with hearths - the Silchester article mentions evidence of metalworking.


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