CAMPAIGN TRAIL: DAY 16 - 5/9/99
" Now that we are two-thirds of the way through the excavation, the overall picture is much clearer. In Mark Lewis' trench, we have located the southern corner of the enclosure and the inner edge of the ditch, provided conclusive evidence for the extent of the site in the 9th and 10th century. What is extremely interesting is the sequence of deposits- in order of occurrence:
- a charcoal rich burnt stone mound (Neolithic or Bronze Age?)
- a buried land surface (pre-enclosure), sealed by...
- soil dug from the ditch when it was cut (early medieval).
The ditch fill will be sampled using on-site flotation (see Evan Chapman's comments in a previous update for a full explanation) to try and recover environmental evidence in the form of seeds, etc.
The complete recording of the burials will take another few days. Close study of the sequence of ditch fills beneath these skeletons suggests the possibility of three phases:
- an early, broad, shallow ditch
- ditch recut to a greater depth
- itch recut again, with a flatter bottom.
The cross-sections across the ditch have now been completed and photographed, and these are now being drawn to scale, showing the different deposits. These detailed records will make it possible to compare the sequence in this section with other cross-sections of the enclosure, in order to build up a comprehensive phasing of the ditch system. As in the case of the ditch in Mark Lewis' trench, I hope that on-site flotation will produce environmental evidence. "
DR MARK REDKNAP
MARK LODWICK - DIG ORGANISER
" Into the last week and everything seems to be going according to plan. 'Meet The Ancestors' finished filming the excavation and seemed pleased with their footage.
On Friday, as soon as Dave finished planning the head ends of burials 3 and 5, the skulls were lifted. Great care had to be taken in lifting them to avoid further deterioration. The rubble that been dumped on top of the bones had left them in a very fragile state. To ensure the skulls did not crumble further, Mary Davis (our on-site conservator) placed a layer of 'cling-film' over the skull and Plaster of Paris over the film to provide stability during the lift and transportation. We hope that a facial reconstruction may be possible on burial 3 - all the fragile facial bones are needed intact for this!.
During Sunday work began recording the remaining bones of the burials in order to lift them later this week. Elsewhere in the trench everyone worked very hard through some very high temperatures to get to the bottom of the two sections through the enclosure ditch. By the end of Sunday the team managed to bottom the ditch in both areas and work can begin cleaning for photography and recording the sections.
On the other side of the enclosure wall we excavated the remaining midden deposits (household / settlement rubbish) and were surprised to find a shallow ditch beneath, filled with the midden. We know from radiocarbon dating the bottom of the midden in 1997 that the midden deposit begun in the 5th - 6th centuries, suggesting an early date for the cutting of this ditch.
We were sorry to lose another valuable team member today Mathew Reynolds had to return home to work on his 'A' levels in order to begin his career in archaeology. "
MARK LEWIS - WALL TRENCH SUPERVISOR
" Now that we have reached the archaeological layers things seem to be happening everywhere and all at once. We have now located and partially excavated a section of the ditch (figure 2). This fills with water as it lies mostly beneath the water table. It is hoped that preservation of organic remains may be good if they were deposited in this section of the ditch. A V-shaped step on its inner edge resembles a feature recorded on the east side of the site, and may be a slot for a timber palisade.
To our surprise we have found that the black "char" feature that was thought to be relatively modern was in fact cut by the [VIKING] period ditch. This means that the black feature must predate the ditch-cut. It may be prehistoric. Samples have been removed for radiocarbon dating. The inner ditch cut may be seen in Image 7 curving towards the ditch in the other trench. The aerial photographs of parch-marks suggested a right-angled corner rather than this curve. Digging has given us a more detailed and accurate picture of this area. "
EVAN CHAPMAN - FINDS SUPERVISOR
" The highlight of Friday was helping with the lifting of the two skulls. Otherwise it seemed to disappear into a lot of rushing around without any finds processing getting done. Today, however, a good solid day's finds processing cleared all the animal bone awaiting washing at the start of the day and saw fifteen or so samples processed by flotation.
This is a good thing as today Mark Lodwick started excavating midden deposits in earnest and so is producing animal bone by the bucket load. I am also being threatend with ditch deposits, for flotation, by the barrow load from both trenches. While the lifting of the burials will be a major packaging job.
At least the flotation system now seems to be working smoothly after a slight hiccup when I discovered that the battery to power the pump wouldn't hold its charge. "
DAVE STEVENS - SITE SURVEYOR AND PLANNER
" After the last two weeks of discovery, the excavation begins to take on a different perspective; the emphasis is now on the careful recording of the site. As the draughtsman, this involves producing a detailed drawn record of everything found on site.
After a week of general survey, I am now recording the burials. With rain forecast on Tuesday, the pressure is on to record and remove the skeletons. I started on Friday by drawing the skulls before the filming of their removal by the Meet The Ancestors team. On Sunday, I continued recording Burial 3 so that it could be removed to expose Burial 4.
All the burials will be recorded by Tuesday and I can concentrate then on the enclosure wall and ditch and Mark Lewis' trench. "