CAMPAIGN TRAIL: DAY 9 - 29/8/99
THE NEWS IN BRIEF
Patchy rain, but still the team has managed to remove much of the rubble in Mark Lodwick's trench and uncover more clay complexities in Mark Lewis. Back at the finds hut Evan Chapman begins processing the finds found so far.
"The hunt for the enclosure wall and ditch in Mark Lewis' trench is closing in on its quarry!
The clay ridge (probably natural) that Mark mentioned in the last update dips along its southern edge, and the most likely interpretation of this, based on the aerial photographs, is that it is the inner edge of the ditch around the enclosure. Mark Lewis' team appear also to have found evidence for a relict watercourse, now filled with peat, which I believe may be the source of a number of late Iron Age/early Roman artefacts made over the years.
In Mark Lodwick's trench, work has continued in defining and recording the various stone and rubble layers before removing them. The crouched burial has now been exposed to the extent uncovered last year, and was clearly covered by a tumble of fairly large stones. In excavating this burial, great care will be needed - the bone is extremely fragile and can break up at the slightest touch. The state of preservation is determined by a number of chemical, physical and biological factors - such as soil acidity (Ph: here about 6.3), amount of moisture, animal activity (e.g. burrowing), and manner of burial (here, the dump of large stones over the body). Clean gloves, overalls and a mask reduce the risk of contaminating samples.
The team is now excavating the rubble which overlies the ditch to the south of this burial, though only animal bones have been encountered so far! "
DR MARK REDKNAP
MARK LODWICK - DIG ORGANISER
"The beginning of week two and a couple of new team members to provide fresh muscles to supplement the weary arms of the rest of us.
Dave Stevens the site planner and surveyer joined us on Sunday and was put straight to work drawing the stone rubble in the enclosure ditch where we have already found at least two burials lying amongst the stones. When Dave finishes recording the stone on Monday we can begin to expose the burials. A job we are all eager to start.
Work continued excavating the stone rubble layer on the other side of the ditch section. We've found the size of the stone increases as we get down further and the soil contains substantial pieces of animal bone between the stones. A clearout after a feast?
Mark Redknap has been helping to carefully expose and excavate the burial we located last year. We hope to extract D.N.A. from the remains so we have to be very careful that Mark does not contaminate the bone with any of his own D.N.A.. He therefore had to wear a cover all 'romper suit', face mask and gloves and all in the name of science. "
MARK LEWIS - WALL TRENCH SUPERVISOR
" Within my trench, the large stones from the wall have now been found to be set within what appears to be a layer of pebbled clay. This may well be the remains of a bonding material for the stones of the wall. Impressions of stones which had formerly sat on the clay bank have been uncovered by two of my team: Tudur and Mo. It now seems more likely that the clay bank I talked about in the last update is a natural ridge of boulder clay with peat-filled depressions to the north and south. The wall may well have been deliberately sited to make use of this natural foundation. On the other hand, it looks less likely that the wall will have survived the plough and stone clearance in this area.
Towards the end of the day, a possible buried land surface was uncovered as a layer of cracked, baked clay which had been covered by a layer similar to a turf-line. The relationship between this ancient land surface and the rubble of the wall will be important in working out the phasing of these features. "
EVAN CHAPMAN - FINDS SUPERVISOR
" First real day of finds processing! The washing of finds was started by two of the volunteers. Not the most exciting of jobs, on this site, as virtually the only thing requiring washing is animal bone and more animal bone. When the rain came down in the afternoon, however, it suddenly seemed like probably the best job going.
Washing is the simplest way of removing the soil from objects such as animal bone. This is necessary to enable one to see exactly what one has; to make them more pleasant to handle; but above all to prevent the soil going mouldy. Once washed the finds are laid out to dry, avoiding direct sun as over rapid drying can lead to cracking of the bone. "