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  • David Quick

CM418 - Nearly finished, and afternoon tea

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

I was a bit later than usual arriving on site on Saturday (because I get my wife breakfast in bed at weekends) and had managed to remember to take some more petrol, two refilled drinking water containers and a bottle for the afternoon's raffle. I had also remembered that we were almost out of bran for our 'earth closet' loos and so had emailed Helen Mullenger asking where she bought it from.

After opening up the finds tent I was relieved to find that there were only three trays of finds for us to process and, what's more, I had help in the finds tent from no less than Carolyn, Dave Shepley and Soo Harris as well - all very experienced! This was just as well because after daily brief I wanted to show Frances and Lee, our members who travel each year from London, around the site to see what we had been doing and finding. Once this was done, they and Barry went off with Carl to do some geophys near Trench W and the Pond.

At lunchtime Carl showed me their results on the laptop; it looked as though they had clearly picked up the trackway between the direction of the field gate and the Pond.

In preparation for the afternoon's highlight, the Guided Tour and Afternoon Tea and 4.45pm, I asked Dave Shepley if he would mind looking out some of the nicest finds from this dig and he kindly did this while Soo and Carolyn were cleaning and recording the last of the finds. By now we had closed down Trenches V, X and Y. Trenches V and Y had already been drawn so this left digging still going on in Trench W while Mark and Liz did the final drawing and recording in Trench X, as seen here:

Likewise Jessica was taking a relaxed approach to recording the postholes in the middle of Trench W:

These incidentally are two of my photos taken later, looking straight down the two of them:

I decided that the light conditions and the lack of wind were ideal for doing an updated drone survey of the site, so I got out my big commercial drone, out of the way of everyone by Trench V. Of course, nothing is ever straightforward; my drone had updated its own software and would not allow me to fly it without first logging in via the Internet first. This required my setting up my iPhone as a mobile wifi hotspot so that my drone's iPad display could connect; half an hour wasted, including the time it took me to go back to the tent because I had forgotten the drone camera's memory card!

Eventually I got it airborne and I set it on autopilot to fly a zigzag course over the field at a height of 60 metres. The survey covered most of the field on one battery lasting 25 minutes, taking 406 vertical images as it did so. This is one of those photos, looking at everyone having their lunch by the marquee:

(When I got home later, I uploaded all the photos to a website called Their servers join all the photos together into a very detailed 'orthomosaic' image, and they also produce a colour-shaded height map and a virtual 3D model of the site; if you click on either of the links above it should open up the results in another window in your browser for you to peruse.)

During this flight, Helen Mullenger came over to see me. Very generously she had gone out, bought some more bran herself for our loos and refilled the tub before having to dash off again to work after a quick look at the trenches.

After lunch I had time before the afternoon tea to do some proper trench photos at Juliet's request as well as some photos of everyone in action (or not!). Here you can see Nicky beavering away at the bottom of the ditch in Trench W, having found its lower limit. There was only space for one person, so the ladies were taking it in turns to dig.

However, at the interesting feature in the middle of Trench W there seemed to be just two people excavating and lots spectating:

The general agreement now is that this is the tiled floor surface of another building; I gather that the white surface I previously though might be malmstone is in fact made of clay tiles, about 25mm thick (and possibly lime-washed in the past), on top of the compacted surface of orange clay:

We are still not quite sure whether the two straight sides at right-angles to each other are where there might once have been walls, either robbed out or destroyed by ploughing. Probably something to explore in 2019. I think the ladies were quite pleased at Juliet's decision not to try to lift this feature intact. It would have been quite a challenge.

Incidentally, below is a close-up shot of one of the two box flue tiles that sat at two of the corners of the feature, and you can see the comb-marks on them:

While this was going on, others were busy doing the trench drawings. This is a view along Trench W:

Juliet asked me to take a photo of the area of earth next to the feature, because of the mix of different orange and black soil colours that was exposed:

For the rest of the afternoon I was kept busy getting ready to give a conducted tour to friends and family coming for the Afternoon Tea. Arthur Mills came to see me, having very quickly produced some of his lovely drawings of some of the artefacts we had loaned him. Unfortunately, a gust of wind blew one of the artefacts (a thumbnail-sized piece of clear glass) off the finds display table into the grass. Despite four of us spending half and hour doing a fingertip search we sadly could not find it again.

I don't have any photos of my own of the conducted tour at 4,45 but there are lots on our group Facebook page taken by Carl of me gesticulating. Thanks Carl! I actually won a very nice rechargeable torch (donated by Andy) in the raffle. I would just like to echo the comments made by Chris W at the time: We are really grateful to everyone who took the time and made the effort to organise a fun social event and donate the food, drink and raffle prizes. I got home about 19.30 without a clue as to who had won the FA Cup or whether the Royal Wedding had gone off without a hitch...

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