CAMPAIGN TRAIL: UPDATE 8 - 29/8/2000
THE NEWS IN BRIEF
Attention moves from the early medieval to prehistory as Mark Lodwick's trench produces a burial, possibly dating from the Bronze Age. In Evan's trench the source of the spring is revealed.
"When planning this year's excavation, I was hoping that we would be able to learn more about prehistoric activity around the spring. In this respect, Mark's enclosure trench has more than fulfilled our aspirations - over the last few days we have not only uncovered Late Stone Age (Neolithic) features containing pottery and utilised stone - but we now have a crouched burial. Future scientific comparison with contemporary burials in North Wales and the early medieval skeletons from the site will be fascinating!
The spring is also revealing its secrets. There are indications that its eastern half has been dredged, and I suspect that the brooch terminal found to the south of the spring (see previous update) originated from an early medieval context disturbed during this activity. However, the arrangement of some of the larger stones within the spring suggests that evidence for an early pool may survive within our excavation area."
DR MARK REDKNAP
EVAN CHAPMAN - SUPERVISING THE SPRING TRENCH
"At last I feel we are really getting to grips with the archaeology in the trench. Work has continued to concentrate in the northern extension (see previous update). Here three sides of the building can now be traced - at least tentatively. In addition a number of other rubble features, have begun to appear.
Down the slope of the spring depression we have cut a slot trench to help us understand its shape and underlying deposits. These have proved to consist of a layer of solid clay, below which is a thick layer of limestone rubble which sits directly on the bedrock. We therefore suspect that much of the depression has been dredged in relatively recent times removing any build up of ancient deposits there may have been.
Mark Redknap brought the pump into play for the first time today to allow him to clear out the deposits in the sediment trap. These proved to be fairly modern but we did discover that the spring still flows to some extent. "
MARK LODWICK - SUPERVISING THE ENCLOSURE TRENCH
"The big news in my trench today was the discovery of a burial. A big surprise!
Investigation of one of the features outside the enclosure wall on Thursday morning by Emma unearthed what appeared to be the leg bones of a crouched burial. This lies in a large pit or cist with a couple of stones lining the edge. The orientation of the grave is north-south, and there were two stones lying above it. We have not found any artefacts in the grave as yet, but all the features suggest a Late Stone Age or Early Bronze Age date. I'm hoping we might find a Beaker pot near the feet tomorrow to verify an Early Bronze Age date.
On a sad note we had to say goodbye today to Brian who has done most of the supervising in the trench over the last two weeks, but we wish him all the best on his next dig in Gibraltar."
HEATHER JACKSON - FINDS SUPERVISOR
"The weather has been warm and sunny for the past few days, which is perfect for drying finds. I have to keep an eye on the bone when the sun is particularly hot as it can crack if it dries too quickly.
Some of the features in Mark's trench have been producing quite a lot of prehistoric pottery, which is decorated with thumbnail impressions or with patterns made by pressing rope into the wet clay. This chunky pottery is too soft and delicate to be washed, so we will have to wait until we get back to the museum to see any further decoration and establish whether it is Bronze Age or earlier.
We have had a couple of visitors to the site, who have been particularly interested in the finds relating to their own fields of study. Peter Crew, the archaeologist for Snowdonia National Park has had a look at our iron slag and Frances Lynch, from the University of Bangor, enjoyed our prehistoric pottery."