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  • David Quick

CM 418 - Young visitors and digging deep

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

We are getting to that mid-stage of the Dig where the finds are coming thick and fast, some of the trenches are getting very deep, interesting but puzzling features are appearing and today we have had visits by very enthusiastic and well-behaved schoolchildren from two primary schools (Harting and Selbourne).

First I want to thank Fiona, the Head of Harting School, who has kindly sent us some photos of her pupils during their visit this morning. I'm always very wary of taking photos myself of children visiting, because you cannot be sure whether their parents have given permission. Fiona sent a lovely message saying:

"Thank you so much for providing Torberry class with such a great experience at the dig this morning. They were so well looked after and thoroughly enjoyed learning about Roman artefacts as well as the way in which such items are discovered. We appreciate the time taken by your team - please thank them on our behalf."

This afternoon we also had a visit from Selbourne School; sorry, no photos.

To update you on the last two days, yesterday started off quite chilly and so I warmed up by refilling the generator's petrol containers and the finds tent's water containers. When I arrived in the finds tent it was obvious from the trays that Juliet had authorised work to start on Trench X. When I had the chance to speak to her, this was because she had made the decision to close down Trench V. The ditch down one side of the trench had reached a depth of about 1.6 metres and despite the solidity of the ditch walls that are made of hard clay and packed layers of flint, it was best to err on the side of caution.

At the daily brief there were two new members, so we did the usual guided tour. Carl wanted to do geophys of an area near the pond so he enlisted their help in doing a resistivity survey.

While looking around in the finds tent I noticed this very nice Alice Holt strainer found the previous day:

The day became steadily warmer as we stood at the finds washing table, cursing the amount of iron-making slag that was coming out of Trench W, mixed up with the bits of pottery. Then Juliet called me over to Trench Y to take some photos of a fairly complete pot that was showing in the western side of the ditch in that trench:

Meanwhile over in Trench W work was continuing at both ends troweling back the surface. This is at the eastern end:

And this is at the western end of Trench W, where you can clearly see the darker soil of the ditch in the foreground that is part of the ladder enclosure evident on the geophys:

Also above, in addition to the burnt area in the centre that is still producing buckets full of slag, there looked to me to be some small post-holes with the post sockets made of flints. I didn't get the chance to look at Trench X yesterday but was told that the same leg of the ladder enclosure ditch appeared (as expected) to run through that trench too. By the end of the day it was hot again, despite a strong breeze that was almost on the limits for flying the drone. I took a video of the site from the air during the afternoon tea break but am still editing it.

Today (Friday) was again a bright start and I was very grateful for help from Soo, Pat and Dave Shepley in the finds tent because the trays were stacking up.

We had one new member starting (Martin) whom I showed around and then I got on with recording some special finds. Our lovely landowner, Rem, came over during the school visit to see some of the special finds and asked if I would show them to the children, which I later did at the end of their visit. However, one of the children had brought an intriguing item found by her grandfather at his farm in the Meon area, to ask if we could help identify its purpose and age:

The stone is very dense, very abrasive like millstone grit, and has a hole that is not natural but has been drilled to about half-way through. Various theories were put forward, including (1) it was a loom weight or axe head that had not been finished off; or (2) that it was a mortar for grinding (for which it seems a bit small); or (3) it was a fire-stone, for use with a bow drill and kindling in the hole to start a fire by friction. We don't know, so I have asked the Finds Liaison Officer, Katie, if she can help.

To finish off today, here are some photos this afternoon of what was happening in each of the trenches, starting with Trench W. This is excavation of the ditch at the western end:

This is Sue at the other end:

And here is Carl talking to Kim about the post-holes, with examples of two of them:

Meanwhile this is Trench X with work ongoing on this section of the ladder enclosure ditch:

Finally, the team in Trench Y are also digging deep and turning up some large pieces of pot; note the soil colour changes:

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