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  • David Quick

Stroud Big Dig day 5 - rain stopped play

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

The day started well after a night of pouring rain and when I arrived at New Buildings Farm I saw that the harvest had been started in the field of oilseed rape where Juliet had found the Neolithic axe head on the surface last year - but the combine harvester was parked up in the field with only half the crop done. Presumably the rain had stopped further progress last night. I walked onto the field and found a few pieces of Romano-British CBM again in the same spot as before, but it was very difficult to see because of all the chaff on the ground. I hope we won't have to wait too long before Oliver completes the harvest and then the cultivation or ploughing that will bury the chaff and turn over the top 15-20cm of soil.

However, the omens were not good because as I walked back to my car I could see black clouds to the west and a beautiful rainbow. Everyone was pretty prompt so after the usual daily briefing we all drove over to Fiona and Mark's field again, parked up and walked to SBF to remove our equipment from where we had left it under tarpaulins.

We decided to split into two teams again, doing test pits. One worked by the big stones I mentioned in yesterday's blog post, and the other in the paddock where we thought the trackway might run towards the bridge. Straight away it started showering with rain so at both locations we put up two gazebos - one to protect the diggers and the other to cover the spoil heap to stop it turning into mud. The footbridges over the stream were treacherously slippery. Meanwhile Barry and Stevie went round the paddocks doing metal detection.

During the morning we were visited by Sarah, the owner, with her daughter and by Nanette to see what we were up to and how things were going. By lunchtime both test pits had hit natural clay again in the layer between 10-20cm depth. Very little of interest was found in the pit by the big stones, whereas the other actually produced a small piece of R-B CBM. Barry found a few metal items too - mostly nails, a button and another strange small piece of rolled-up lead strip.

We broke for lunch at 1.00pm but during lunch the heavens opened and it was then a heavy and continuous downpour. We were all soon soaked and the weather forecast apps on our phones predicted lots more of the same for the rest of the afternoon. We decided enough was enough, so finished recording and filling in the two test pits, packed away the gazebos and gear and finished early at about 2.00pm.

I tried to contact Jeremy Mitchell before leaving the village to see if we could do a test pit in his garden tomorrow but nobody was at home and there was no reply on his phone. I also had a message from Carl saying that he had injured himself and could not walk, so would not be able to take part tomorrow. We arranged that he would drop off the resistivity machine at my house in the morning so that we could reunite it with its repaired frame - thanks Keith for getting the weld repaired - so the plan for tomorrow, weather permitting, is that we will do geophysics in Fiona's and Mark's field and hopefully some test pits including Jeremy's garden.

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