Ok, sorry for the delay in getting the blog out to you but between work, weather and a day off, it has been tricky finding the time to squeeze it in. However, things have eased off a little allowing me time to bring you up to speed. So here’s what’s been happening.
Things have been relatively quiet in trench six. Most of the team there have been planning the stones which formed part of the mound structure. This is painstaking work as each stone is drawn individually and to scale, and there are rather a lot of them. The image below shows you everything in trench six, including two 2m scales to show you how large the trench is. The photo was taken by Richard, one of our volunteers and our thanks to him for this.
On Monday and Tuesday Nick was working on his other day job – minibus driver as it was time to take most of the Manchester students back to the university and pick up the second wave to bring them to Dorstone. This meant that his team joined in the work in trench seven.
Over in trench seven things have been moving on apace. The weather for the most part has been very good, but it has meant that we have had to water the ground to both make it easier to trowel and to identify features. In the photo here, Julian is watering the eastern end of the ditch on Friday morning. During the course of Friday we continued to try to find the edge of the ditch. What we were looking for was a change in soil colour (from a pinkish clay to a browner clay) which is always a guide for archaeologists. More of the ditch emerged as the students did a lot of hard troweling in the sun.
Saturday was our day of and so over the course of the last three days progress was variable and then slowed a little as students left and yesterday it rained for most of the day. However, We are very pleased with what we have found.
The strategy that Julian has decided on is to initially sample parts of the ditch. To do this we have used high-tech string and nails to mark out the areas of interest. As you can see in the photo here, we have left a narrow part or baulk between two areas or slots we’re excavating. As we take more material out, these baulks will help up see the profile or shape of the ditch and more usefully identify the sequence of how the layers built up over time.
Sunday bought excitement to site as Julian, of it just had to be him, found a very large piece of early Neolithic pottery in the eastern end of trench seven. It was a significant find, and Julian thinks it is one of the largest pieces of pottery he has ever found! Even though great care was taken we were unable to keep it in one piece. Nonetheless, it was packed in bubble wrap and a plastic box and taken back to our temporary office for safe-keeping. Once the excavation is over it will be analysed to give information about its style and possibly where it was made. Using a technique called ceramic petrology it is possible to identify the source of the clay used to make a pot.
Monday and Tuesday saw everyone working in trench seven. Our main problem was trying to find some of the terminals of the ditches. In most causewayed enclosures archaeologists have found lots of artefacts, bones etc in this area. So, everyone was busy looking for these, and we have now got several identified. Things have also got a little more complex as it appears that at some time in prehistory people have dug into the ditches and deposited what seems to be a mixture of burnt material.
Tuesday also saw the first day of rain, and we had varying amounts of it throughout the day. This made almost everything from trowelling to record keeping more difficult, and we want to thank everyone for a great effort yesterday!
In other news
Tonight sees the third of the series of lectures by project staff. This week sees Dr Nick Overton giving a talk on one of the most exciting materials found during the excavations on Dorstone Hill – Rock Crystal. He assures me it is a world premier, so we’ll see you down at Dorstone Village Hall this evening!