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  • David Quick

Colemore 2019 Spring Dig - Grid Setup Day

That will teach me to read the joining instructions for this dig which we are calling CM519 (i.e. Colemore May 2019). I got up very early this morning and my car was loaded up with mallets, folding tables, direction signs, finds storage boxes, an entire box of paperwork I had printed, and all the other usual paraphernalia. I thought I would get to Colemore at 0830, half an hour before everyone else to do a bit of unloading and setting up.

On arrival I found myself alone with a field of sheep until Barry Wood turned up about 0900. We sat and waited, watching the first swallows that either of us had seen this year and hoping the threatened rain would hold off.

Eventually I realised something was wrong and texted Juliet, to discover that if I had read my emails I would have known that the Grid Setup Day was not going to start until 1300; I was 4.5 hours early. However, Barry and I agreed to help out with loading some of the tentage and equipment into our cars at our store at West Liss. To kill time I went to the Farm and Country store near Selborne to buy two 20kg bags of bran for our composting toilets. I then arrived at our store at West Liss at 1000, the only person there, and started loading my car with yet more equipment - 10 full water containers, finds baskets, storage boxes, the first aid and photo kits, and lots more until my little Honda was sagging at the springs.

Juliet then arrived with Rob and we started loading all the heavy gear into their 2 vehicles - the Finds Tent, the Store Tent, buckets, finds baskets and so on. When Barry arrived we loaded up his car too and all set off separately for Colemore where we arrived at about noon.

Because of the forecast of showers we had decided to erect the two tents a day early so that we could put the equipment we had brought under cover, and to give us less to do tomorrow. Between Rob, Barry and myself we put them up in about 45 minutes and then grabbed a bite of lunch.

Carl arrived with his surveying equipment - electronic distance measurement (EDM), tape measures, plastic canes and so on. So as soon as the other volunteers started arriving at 1300 they got on with positioning the red plastic canes at 30-metre spacing for our usual north-south baseline from which everything is measured. The team then used the tapes and basic maths to set up the yellow canes for the rest of the grid.

We had some new members on site so I gave them a bit of background about our Colemore digs after having filled the petrol cans for the generator and finished moving equipment into the tents. Davy arrived with Liz, ready to set up his tent because he is camping on site for the duration of the dig. Carl, Juliet and I then discussed trench positions and it was agreed that based on the geophys plots from last autumn we needed to do some test pits north of the pond, so needed to extend the base line in that direction too.

This was easier said than done because the area around the pond has been planted by Rem, the landowner, in a square area behind a barbed wire fence. Carl's problem was that the slope of the land and the height of the oilseed rape behind the fence made it impossible to see people on the north side of the pond through his EDM. Eventually we overcame this problem by holding the laser prism above the canes so he could see it and take his distance and bearing readings.

Unfortunately while working in the pen around the pond I managed to slip on the muddy rim of the pond and fall into a blackthorn bush. Copious red stuff over my arm from the scratches so decided enough was enough for the day and went home to get some Dettol and a cup of tea. That said, the weather was generally kind to us (while I was there), we had a very successful first day and I'm very grateful to all the volunteers who showed up.

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