What a hectic day today! Posting this blog late tonight because I was late home from the Stroud Revels.
A good start this morning, with a couple of volunteers who had not previously been to Stroud - and another who arrived later from Gosport to volunteer for the first time, and eventually managed to track us down.
We had two dig teams working in Finchmead this morning in adjoining gardens. Lyn's team had finished at the very fruitful garden (archaeologically) of Margaret, so closed up their pit and moved next door but one, to Suz's. Meanwhile Chris W's team started digging at Simon's house but unfortunately quickly hit something solid - which turned out to be an old driveway, so they closed up and started afresh further up the garden where Margaret told them it used to be a vegetable patch. By the end of the day both these test pits are still work in progress, because we had to finish early.
Meanwhile the team working in Marian & John's on the Winchester Road not only made excellent progress but also found some great examples of bricks made in the Stroud brickworks, one of which has the lovely signature of a cat's paw imprint.
Carl meanwhile had a visit from Andy Payne, the geophys guru from Historic England, who lives locally. He came to see what we were doing and also to collect his magnetometer and we had a long chat about the finds in Stroud so far and the prospects for continuing the village Big Dig next year. Carl's team made at good start at Kat's cottage in Ramsdean Road and although I did not get a chance to visit them this afternoon, I gathered that things were doing well there too. When I had called round this morning I found that we were back in the company of chickens again - some very elegant ones:
After lunch Carl, Chris and Richard helped me at 1.30pm with setting up our mini-marquee, banners and tables at the Stroud Revels site and carried on with the digs until 3.30pm; we had quite a few more visitors coming to see how things were going, including a friend of Ellis who used to be Consul-General in Toronto, Graham Soffe from the ARA, and the local press accompanied by Alan Horgan.
At 3.30pm several of us had to leave to man our stall at the Revels, so we stopped digging for the day. Our plans for tomorrow include finishing off the ongoing test pits, completing one in Sal's garden, and doing some geophys in Judith's orchard at the Pest House. Juliet also had a chat with Oliver, the farm manager at New Buildings Farm, and discovered we should be able to field-walk on some of the fields of real interest to us that have just been harvested - where we saw some Roman CBM back in April while field-walking.
I would like to say a real thankyou to all those who gave up their Saturday evening and helped man our stall at the Revels tonight, including Chris Newbery, Chris Wilkins, Juliet, Carl, Donna, Arthur and anyone else I have forgotten. They had a really long day, but managed not only to attract a lot of interested visitors and keep the children entertained but also get some more people who want to be involved in the project moving forward - including some farmers we had not met before.
It seems strange that tomorrow is the last day of the dig, and I am already feeling quite sorry because I have so far thoroughly enjoyed working with such an enthusiastic group of uncomplaining volunteers and such accommodating and friendly residents. Stroud is such a lovely village!