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  • David Quick

CM418 - Sunshine and heat

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

So far this week I have been on site on 5 and 7 May, and what a difference a few days has made with the weather. Only a few days ago we had to cancel activity for a day because of the wind and rain, and now we get temperatures in the mid-20s, not a cloud in the sky and only an occasional breeze. It has certainly helped the ground dry out. The wildlife is loving it too; you can hear a cuckoo, skylarks, and the frequent mewing of buzzards like this one I photographed, which seems to still be moulting its flight feathers:

That's not the only thing that has been buzzing overhead; the good weather has brought out lots of microlites from the nearby airstrip:

This week we have been getting some new members and it was a good time to join because we are turning up some interesting features and some very nice finds too - a special one of which I cannot show here but will publish on the "members only" page.

What's been happening? Well, this is the latest overview (oriented north at the top) showing clockwise from top-left: Trench V; then the pond surrounded by trees; then Trench W; and finally Trench Y at bottom-left:

You can probably see the different soil colours in each trench.

In Trench V the cobbled surface made of flint has largely been exposed and it was obviously laid over the top of a much older ditch. The cobbled surface has subsided over time and what last time I thought was a post hole is in fact a sinkhole in the cobbled surface, seen here:

Meanwhile in the background of the image above you can see where the team are doing a section of the ditch, trying to ascertain its width and depth. When I last saw it on Monday it was about 3 metres wide, Liz said they were down at a depth of about 1.5 metres and still had not reached the bottom. What's more, they were getting some very nice and fairly large pieces of conjoined pot at a depth of 1.4 metres. Here you can see how far down it is, and it is undoubtedly hard work now lifting the soil up in buckets:

The majority of the diggers on both days were however in the large Trench W, supervised by Carl. Digging here was hard work too, partly because the surface had dried out and become very hard, and partly because of the hot conditions necessitating lots to drink, wearing hats and plenty of suntan lotion. Carl says we are still getting lots of evidence of iron manufacture in the centre of the trench where there has been burning - plenty of slag, lumps of iron and some charcoal. He was still unsure at that stage about the orange-red area on the northern centre edge of the trench; it might be burnt clay or it might be degraded and crumbled CBM. The trench is still producing lots of pottery and CBM, although still mostly smallish pieces. Here you can see the team at work in Trench W:

Over in Trench Y we had been puzzled by the right-angled feature in the ditch, of which I had taken these photos:

Juliet made the decision to lift this feature out because as the ground dried out it was starting to crack and crumble. This was done with a great deal of care by undercutting it and sliding it onto a laminated board. It is currently in our finds tent and is obviously made of the same black soil as the rest of the trench fill. How it came to be its unusual shape remains a mystery but I personally still favour the theory that it was where someone slid into the muddy trench and his boot pushed down a small wall of mud.

Since then the team in this trench, supervised by Juliet, have been continuing to explore the extent of this ditch as seen in these three images:

As for finds generally, back in the finds tent I have seen small amounts of glass, plenty of iron and slag, limited amounts of CBM, and plenty of pottery of various types. Not much of it so far has been decorated. Probably my favourite piece to date is part of a lovely little strainer.

We have had a few visitors. I was delighted that the residents of the White House (next to the Barn) called by, because they had missed the talk I had given to the Colemore villagers in December. I think they were surprised by how much archaeology is on their doorstep, and they have some flint implements they have found that they would like us to help identify. A bit more frustrating is when we get an unannounced visit by an archaeologist who would like a conducted tour and takes up nearly 2 hours of my afternoon when I am the only person in the finds tent, but we have to be sociable!

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