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  • David Quick

Colemore Dig (CM918) Day 3


What a difference in the weather! After all the rain and wind over the weekend I arrived at Colemore at 08.20 on a distinctly chilly but very bright and cloudless morning. Either David or Pete, both of whom are camping on site, had already got the generator going to boil the urn. Juliet's caravan and 4-wheel drive were on site, so Juliet had obviously managed to get her brakes sorted out.


I signed in and Pete helped me roll up the door of the finds tent. It was my turn to do admin, so I updated the whiteboard with who was responsible for doing what and then got out the day's list of participants. I saw we were due to have three new people: Ian travelling all the way from Acton in London, and Bill and Hillary (easy names to remember!) who had come all the way from Tasmania!

Yesterday excellent progress had been made in tidying the trench edges, finishing surveying the trench co-ordinates and a good start had been made in levelling some of the trench bottoms too. Juliet allocated two teams, with some of our more experienced volunteers working under Liz's supervision in one trench and our beginners to work in the other under Davy's watchful eye.

After the daily briefing at 09.30 I spent a while giving the usual guided tour and background brief to our three 'newbies' before they joined Davy. I had a catch-up with Juliet and agreed to contact David Hopkins to see if he would be bringing his Scout group from Basingstoke on Saturday. (I subsequently rang David and I am pleased he is bringing a group of nine).

Because there was very little to do in the finds tent at this early stage of the dig I wandered over to the trenches to see what was happening. It was immediately apparent that there were some distinct colour bands in the soil in Davy's trench, with orange 'natural' in one corner and a dark diagonal band cutting through much of the rest of the trench. I took some photos of everyone hard at work in both trenches.




Juliet asked me if I wanted to make myself useful and learn a new skill, so I agreed to get the dumpy and read the instructions on how to take levels. As it turned out it is much easier than using Carl's very sophisticated EDM was last weekend. I set up the dumpy on the tripod, levelled it and then asked Pete to help me. We took a backsight reading on one of the temporary benchmarks (TBM) that Carl had established and worked out the instrument height (height of the scope above mean sea level). Then Pete and I took a series of foresight height measurements for each corner of all of our trenches as well as of the contexts within them.

Bill, one of our Australian visitors, is a geologist and was interested in the geology of our site and the possible water sources locally. He went off for a bit of an explore.

In the afternoon I copied the trench co-ordinates from a sheet that Liz had given me and entered them into a spreadsheet on my laptop that we use for converting them to Ordnance Survey grid references before plotting the trenches in our geographical information system software (called QGIS). Then I passed the details to Juliet so she could record them too. The dig teams were starting to reach the archaeology layers and turn up a few finds, mostly fairly degraded and plough-struck. During the afternoon tea break I put the drone up to get some initial aerial images of the trenches. This view taken from 400 feet above ground is oriented with north to the left.


The pond is within the fenced-off area to the left (north) and we then have three trenches and one test pit in a rough row in the centre of view. The two on the left here straddle Trench W from the May dig. Then we have another square trench (bottom-right) and there is yet another out of view at the top that is outlined in paint but has not yet had the turf removed. You can incidentally still see the remains of two of our other trenches from the May dig at bottom-left and bottom-centre of this view.

The photo below is taken from a lower altitude and is north-oriented:


At this stage it is too early to detect any features in the trenches from these views. In the afternoon I took some more images of everyone working:




Towards the end of the day Juliet received a message from Robin, our mini-digger operator, saying that he is coming back tomorrow (Tuesday) to finish removing the turf from the last trench that he did not have time to do on the set-up day. I therefore rushed over to Pete who was about to mark out for a test pit within that trench outline and told him not to bother.

At 4.30 I tidied up the finds tent, packed my drone and laptop away, collected the empty fuel and water containers to take home and refill - and remembered to sign out!

All in all an excellent and a very cheerful and sociable day. I was delighted to hear that Bill and Hillary had enjoyed themselves sufficiently to decide to stay for an extra day. Happily the forecast for the rest of the week looks very favourable too; cold and possibly frosty nights but no rain and daytime temperatures possibly reaching 22 degrees by Thursday!


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