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Stroud 2018 - the final day


Once again the end of another dig, with lots to do today and not all that many people to do it. I'm always suspicious that people avoid taking part on the final day because they know it is going to be hard graft filling in the test pits and moving the equipment.

As I walked across the field from the farmyard it really struck me how quickly the grass has recovered after a few days of drizzle and the 3 hours of downpour earlier in the week. It had gone from straw-coloured to bright green. That reminded me that I needed to ring Chris Snow whose family own the sheep farm the other side of the A272, because he wanted to show Angela his wife what we had been doing and I was concerned that they come over before we started filling in the test pits.

At 10.00am I headed back to the farmyard because earlier in the week I had been swapping emails with David Staveley who is well known in local archaeology circles for having his own GPR (ground -penetrating radar) machine and for some spectacular discoveries in Chichester sites using his technology. David is also popular with me for being the developer of the 'Snuffler' software we all use for processing geophys results into meaningful pictures. below is an example of Snuffler output, from the field we have been working in this week, and this resistivity plot clearly shows the course of the sewage pipe running (purple) from bottom-left to top-right:


TP4 was deliberately sited on the red central spot on this plot.

David had very kindly agreed to come over from Eastbourne, a drive of over 90 minutes, with his GPR to put some of our theories to the test. I met him and he came across to our site, After a quick briefing he got started straight away. While he was setting up his machine I chatted with Chris and Angela Snow, who clearly had no idea that there was so much R-B archaeology in the field in which their sheep usually graze.

Dave did a scan around where were digging near a stream but the alluvial clay was so thick that he could not see any structures within it. GPR is an amazing technique but its range is reduced in clay and especially wet clay; it works best with materials such as sand and concrete. So he then went along both sides of the long straight hedgerow where I had always thought there might be a roadway on one side of it - and was able to prove that theory wrong, which was very useful. He identified another area of interest for the future, against the hedgerow near TP4 - so that is a target for next year. He then kindly spent the rest of the morning using his amazing (and very expensive) GPS which is accurate to less than a centimetre to plot the co-ordinates of our grid, TBM (temporary benchmark), test pit corners and the sewage pipe manhole covers for us, which saves me a shedload of work because I can now import them directly into our QGIS mapping software.

If you are at all interested in geophysics, do have a look at David's blog at http://geophyswithsnuffler.blogspot.com/ which has lots of advice and also talks about his discoveries at Priory Park in Chichester which featured on TV last year.

David left around lunchtime to drive back to Sussex and I grabbed a late lunch.


By mid-afternoon, as the team finished tidying up their excavations, I went round taking the final trench photos. As a community archaeology group we have very generously been donated a licence by an Italian company called 3DFlow who make some very clever software called 3DF Zephyr that can turn a series of photos, either from a normal camera or from a drone, into 3D models you can display on the Web, so I was taking lots of photos from different directions and trying to avoid my shadow getting in the way. That's a job for me next week perhaps. Here are the final photos of the digging:

TP1:



TP3:



TP4:



It is incidentally fairly obvious, now that we know for certain the route of the sewage pipe, that the sharp edges in TP4 and 5 are where the JCB that laid the sewage pipe just hacked through the archaeology making the sharp edges you can see in the photos. They obviously just didn't care.

Juliet showed me some op sig (opus signinum) she found in TP4 and I noticed that some of the large tiles had maker's marks on them - what we call '2S' pattern, i.e. two semi-circular curves drawn with fingertips across the wet tile like a rainbow. This is one of Juliet's images of what she says are bipedalis tiles in TP4:


Then while some got on with finishing the finds recording, the rest of us started back-filling by hand the tons of heavy clay back into the pits:

This was really hard and hot work for a small group of people and took longer than I had expected, but everyone stuck around until it was finished at about 5.30pm and then helped load all the gear into Mark's van before most headed home. Mark wanted to repair the fence where the posts had rotted away in the corner that had been cleared by Juliet and him before the dig.

Juliet and I stopped behind to help Mark to restore the fence to pristine condition:



Mark didn't stop in that position very long because he quickly realised that he was being stung; he was kneeling in a red ants' nest!

Eventually we finished the fence, transported all the gear from the van into the farm storeroom and with much relief I got home about 7.00pm - and fell asleep not long afterwards.


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