Monday 18th June
Contributed by CAROLINE
Today the Cardiff University archaeology students arrived on site and this was the first full day. The majority of the day was spent clearing up the edges of the trench using spades, shovels and mattocks. A back breaking day was had by all; this is always the most physically hardest day on site. Progress was good and towards the end of the day all three trenches had cleaned straight edges and so the cleaning off of the last remaining topsoil was begun in trenches 1 and 2. Removing the topsoil in Trench 1 revealed the natural limestone bedrock and yellow clay in most areas. Several features were found cutting into this natural geology, including rubble filled ditches and a possible ring gully (these are often associated with Prehistoric roundhouses). However, the finds have mainly been of Roman date, this includes several Roman coins of the late 4th Century. We are still, however, hoping to uncover Prehistoric activity, particularly as this is what geophysics had suggested in some areas. Geophysics involves analysing the ground using equipment which can detect anomalies in the earth’s geology. Equipment includes magnetometers which record magnetic susceptibility of the soil (this machine is good at detecting burning activity as the soil becomes more magnetic following heating). The ground is also probed by a machine which measures resitivity. This involves passing an electric current into the ground and detecting the resistance faced. Low resistance features are ditches (they retain water), whereas high resistance features such as stone walls obstruct the electric current.
Anyway, back to the point- geophysics was carried out on the site to help predict what we would find before we dig the site. This helps us decide where to locate the trenches. Geophysics suggested we would find an enclosure ditch surrounding several areas of activity, including burnt areas and various ditches and other anomalous features. We are hoping to find later prehistoric activity that was possibly at some point contemporaneous with the feasting site found in the nearby field on the farm. Previous digs here involved the digging of a midden (a giant Prehistoric rubbish dump) Many amazing artefacts were found including bracelets, cauldron fragments, a chisel, spearhead and tens of thousands of animal bones. Only time will tell if this site is contemporary, but at present Roman finds dominate the evidence.
Today there was torrential rain but luckily this coincided with our lunch hour and so did not affect work too much other than the ground was a lot harder to dig following the down pour with the soil being clayey and trowel edges becoming clogged.