There is only one word to describe the first day of this Spring Dig at Colemore: Blustery!
I arrived on site at 0830 to meet Tom, a new member who has recently finished his Masters archaeology degree at Reading on the same course as another of our members, Kayleigh. I had put up a few of the direction signs on my way in. Davy had already got the generator going so I signed in and stashed my gear in the Finds Tent. Juliet arrived shortly afterwards because her caravan was not yet on site, but she had been to the Equipment Store at Liss yesterday evening and had managed to find the items I had overlooked - the kneelers and the display cases we use for showing some of our more prized finds to visitors.
I finished updating the daily briefing board and the weather was already very blowy, with the wind really making the marquee flap and shake. I was pleased we had used the large stakes and tension straps to help hold it down.
Everybody arrived promptly so we did a quick briefing covering the usual health and safety points before everyone loaded up the barrows with the tools needed for cutting and stacking the turf and for edging the trenches. Juliet was laughing about the behaviour of the sheep the previous evening. Where we had insufficient fencing for one of the trenches the sheep had been jumping onto the turf stack as though we had built them a playground and were rolling round in the bottom of one of the trenches (which is only about a 6" deep at the moment).
I gave Tom the usual introductory site brief for new members and then we went over and joined the others.
Juliet had decided to call the three narrow trenches north of the pond EV1, EV2 and EV3 (for EValuation trench) respectively, from north to south. we are using walkie talkies to communicate because the trenches are so far from the marquee that you cannot hear a whistle at tea break when the urn has boiled. It felt even more exposed to the wind over by the pond but at least it was dry and everyone got on with finishing the turf cutting and stacking, after posing for a group photo by the pond.
Cutting and stacking the turf, to make it easier to re-lay after the dig:
Then we moved over to the most northerly trench, EV1, and after marking out the trench edges with pegs and string we started work on tidying the edges.
Philip, the tenant farmer, came over in his Land Rover to check that we were OK working with his sheep in the field and we assured him that they were no bother.
Far from being a bother, the sheep were again a source of entertainment as they jumped and played on the turf stack and spoil heap.
The wind really picked up at lunchtime so we all stayed inside the marquee while we ate. I got the steps and climbed up to tighten a few of the bolts that had rattled loose in the marquee frame and also banged in a few extra stakes along the base to stop it rattling in the wind. Work carried on into the afternoon with starting to clean back the bottom of EV1, initially with mattocks and shovels to get a level.
All in all very good progress for the first day. I recorded our first find, a flint microlith. Rob arrived with Juliet's caravan to set it up towards the end of the afternoon. I'm not on site on Day 2 (Sunday) so hope to do the next dig update on Monday.