CM418 - 12-14 May progress
Updated: Aug 21
Today is our weekly day off and my chance to catch up on downloading photos from my camera and drone, as well as update this blog. I think that having added an extra week to the dig this year, whilst cumulatively tiring, has had the benefit that we actually get a chance to fully investigate the trenches without feeling the need to rush things towards the end.
On 12 May we in the Finds Tent were passed a very nice item, I think found by Inneke in W1002, which when cleaned up proved to be a whetstone for sharpening tools - seen here from above and then end-on:
Although broken it is in very good condition and the sharpening surface is beautifully smooth, just like the modern one I use with a dab of oil for sharpening my wood chisels today.
Trench V was now closed and about to be filled in with large flints in the deepest part of the ditch so I took a series of photos including this one showing how deep it is - about 1.6 metres and still not reached the bottom:
Trench W was now looking like this at the western end:
As with all of our trenches on this dig, this has exposed a very clear ditch which was predicted by the geophys to be part of the western 'upright' of the ladder enclosure. Such ladder enclosures were usually late Iron Age or early Roman, and often had a track along the outside of one of the 'uprights'. The geophys (magnetometry) scan had also highlighted an area in the centre of the trench with high iron content and this area is seen here:
Throughout this part of the trench, where the soil is blackened, we have continued to get loads of iron and slag - so much so that I had to agree with Carl that the slag would be sent to us in buckets rather than in the finds trays. At this point it was becoming clear that we would need to extend the trench at the top-centre of the above image, because we were uncovering what seemed to be a platform and a big area of orange clay in the trench wall. Here are a couple of photos from above of what we think are the post holes, lined with large flints:
Over in Trench X, which had only been going for a couple of days, it was now looking like this:
Yet again the feature on the geophys had proved accurate in predicting another part of the ladder enclosure ditch that also runs through Trench W. So far the finds from this ditch have been scarcer but it is early days.
Finally on 12 May this was what Trench Y was looking like:
The ditch here is producing lots of pottery, some of which are very large pieces and some conjoined. The ditch is deep so the notches carved into it on the right are so the diggers can climb down safely. This is another view looking along the ditch:
Many of the pots have been coming from the very bottom. This is the view from the opposite side:
This was the last day on the dig for Pat and David, and I am especially grateful to Pat for all the pot washing she has done despite the very clingy clay and messy slag.
My next day on site was two days later on Monday 14 May and this proved to be quite hectic. Dave Pink had had a big band of helpers doing finds the previous day and had done an excellent job of catching up with cleaning and recording. When I arrived on site at 8.30am it was like a ghost town; there was nobody to be seen. I opened up the Finds Tent, filled the water containers at the tap by the trough, filled the generator and petrol cans with fuel and got myself organised because I was down to do admin as well.
After the daily brief I was relieved that Carolyn was there to help with finds. Because of her qualifications and experience she has picked up our way of doing things very quickly, so she spent the whole day recording while I scrubbed pots. There was a nice piece of window glass - the first I have seen on this dig.
Juliet called me over to Trench Y to take some photos of yet more large pieces of pot while still 'in situ' at the bottom of the ditch, found by Henry and Tony (whose feet are on the right):
This is a close-up of the pot sticking up from the soil:
And this is a little later, when they were lifting the pieces and passing them to Lesley, the trench supervisor:
Incidentally, during the afternoon Lesley noticed that one of the pieces of pot in their finds tray was in fact another piece of strainer. She suspected it was a match for the strainer I mentioned a few days ago in the blog and brought it over to us to clean up. To our delight we found that this smaller piece fitted beautifully with the previous larger piece as seen here (seen from above and below):
During lunch I was just sitting down to eat when an unexpected group of visitors arrived. It turned out that they were all from Selbourne and had just come from a meeting with Rem so I gave them a conducted tour of the site and showed them our finds. While this was going on our artist-in-residence, Arthur Mills, arrived. We had a chat about the work he is preparing for this website and I then asked him if he would do some more of his lovely artefact drawings for us, so he signed out some of the special finds to take away and draw after his holiday.
Most of the rest of my day was spent by me with a toothbrush and pottery but these are some quick photos I took of everyone hard at work. First, this is how the ditch in Trench W was progressing:
This is the structure in the centre of Trench W that I mentioned earlier in this blog; you can see that the side of the trench has now been extended to uncover this structure:
To me it looks like a definite structure, basically fairly rectangular, made of brick and probably malmstone, laid out regularly judging by the joints between blocks:
The ladies uncovering it tell me that they are finding lots of small particles of iron here when running a magnet in a polythene bag across the ground; possibly hammer scale.
Meanwhile Mark was getting steadily deeper in his ditch in Trench X, and taking cover from the sun which was getting steadily hotter as the afternoon wore on.
Finally, I went across to the site today (Wednesday) which was of course closed because it is our weekly rest day. After dropping off some refilled drinking water containers I had hoped to fly the big drone to do an updated aerial survey of the site (which will require some 500 vertical photos) but when I arrived I found that the wind was way above safe limits. I'm constantly surprised how Colemore seems to have a weather bubble all of its own!