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Update 15


[image: The complexity of a bone jigsaw puzzle]

The complexity of a bone jigsaw puzzle: each skull fragment has to be carefully labelled after washing.

[image: Skull from one of the burials in process of being reconstructed]

Skull from one of the burials in process of being reconstructed

[image: Mark Lewis works on one of the skulls]

Mark Lewis works on one of the skulls

[image: Conserved bones from one of the burials awaiting study.]

Conserved bones from one of the burials awaiting study.

[image: Mark Redknap with the producers of 'Meet the Ancestors']

Mark Redknap discusses a whetstone from the site with the producers of 'Meet the Ancestors' and 'Meet the Vikings'.

[image: Finds record being made of a copper alloy bird from Mark Lewis's trench.]

Finds record being made of a copper alloy bird from Mark Lewis's trench.

[image: Mary Davis conserving an escutcheon from Mark Lewis's trench.]

Mary Davis conserving an escutcheon from Mark Lewis's trench.


"Since our last update, great progress has been made on the cleaning and conservation of the five skeletons (see Mark Lewis's report). Dr Alison Roberts and Dr Jonathan Musgrave, who are both based in Bristol, have compiled a report on burial 3 (the one Julian Richards excavated), and they will be visiting Cardiff soon to work on another of the skeletons. We have now received radiocarbon dates for last year's features which are very interesting: charcoal from the rubble layer in Mark Lodwick's trench which overlay the burials and seemed to lap against the outside of the wall has produced a date of c.970-1225 (95% probability), giving us a date for the demolition of the wall; Mark Lewis's ditch fill gave a date of c.725-745/760-1005, and the lower fill is c.670-875 (95% probability), confirming that it had silted up before the construction of the defensive wall. The burnt mound has provided a date of c.1130-885 BC (95% probability: in other words, Late Bronze Age), extending again the period of activity around the spring (previously we have only recognised Early Bronze Age material)! While this post-excavation work continues, we are planning our forthcoming excavation for this summer."



As an archaeological conservator, I was asked to preserve and reconstruct the human bones to enable their study by specialists who will be looking for information on the stature, age and sex of the skeletons, signs of disease or occupational pathology.

The first task was to clean the fragments for consolidation and reconstruction. The bones had undergone both chemical and physical deterioration while buried. Many were fragmentary, in part the result of crushing by the overlying deposit of angular limestone blocks. They were also fragile because of the partial chemical deterioration of some of the components of the bone in the ground.

It would not have been possible to reconstruct such fragile bone without conservation treatment. Archaeological conservation is an important part of the archaeological process as it enables the retrieval of further information about objects and hence the site from which they came which would otherwise be lost.


"Preparations for a new season have begun. I visited Anglesey recently to sort out this year's accommodation and speak to Roger about our plans for his field this season. The visit was also a useful opportunity to check on the exact find location of a ninth-century decorated strap-end recently found in the field by Pete and sent to the Museum for identification."


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