News

9th July

This is a post from yesterday's dig, on account of my having a day off today! I hope everyone's had a lovely day today, and look forward to finding out what's happened tomorrow morning! However, yesterday....

IMG 2025 CopyWe finally found the sides of the cut of the ditch in Area 2 (above). Hooray! Rog and team had noticed a colour change in the fill on Wednesday and had stopped to record, but yesterday we pushed back another 0.5m to find the original cut to the west of the ditch. It looks like what Rog and co. had found was a fill slumping layer, so we have recorded the new material with a separate context number. To the east of the ditch, first-time digger Glyn has been finding the eastern cut of the ditch, and what looks like a gulley or ditch running into the main ditch. Can't wait to find out what has happened tomorrow!

IMG 2022 CopyYesterday Donna and team also took stock of our finds, bagged up those which have been washed and dried, and worked through a good number of our finds backlog. We've bagged them up by type (Pottery, bone, CBM, shell etc.) so they can go straight to our specialists for identification. It still looks like most of our material is 12th-14th century, but we'd love to find something earlier...

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Volunteer Chris Terry has also been teaching other volunteers how to take heights on trenches and features using a dumpy level. This is quite old-school technology, working from benchmarks on the side of churches, then working from a Temporary Bench Mark in the field, and then up to the individual trenches, but for most of our groups who don't have access to state-of-the-art GPSs, this is invaluable.

 

 

8th July

Richard Mortimer from Oxford Archaeology East popped in this morning to look at our features and pottery. Richard loves Saxons, and unfortunately it looks like we're a bit late for his taste, but he was still pleased with our progress! He says our site and finds mostly date from the 12th to 14th centuries AD, and fit the general Medieval village pattern of growth from the 12th-13th centuries into new areas as population grew, and then contraction and abandonment of these new areas after the Black Death decimated the population.

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Caoption has to be: 'ooooh, pretty pot!' And more pretty pot below:

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Graham Taylor led a course on how to make modern replicas of Medieval pottery. Here's a few pictures of people having a go on his potter's wheel:

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Despite a lot of changeover between people who were on the morning and afternoon pottery courses also attending the dig, we continued to press on with our excavation and recording. We're going to move into a new trench tomorrow, where we think we have a beamslot for a building. We're also hoping to open some new trenches over the next few days when we have the machine again. Here are James and Simon plotting where to position our new trenches to target some interesting features on the geophysics!

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Mon 6th

After yesterday's site cleaning, today saw our first serious excavation of archaeological features. Three trenches contain large ditches containing Medieval shellyware and lots of bone. In particular, Area 2 has uncovered a very large ditch, and so far we've only uncovered one side of it, and we suspect the other side (2m away!) may still be under the baulk. We're looking forward to finding out, and digging up more Medieval cow and horse bones in the meantime!

Our most puzzling trench remains Trench 1, which has a layer of modern burning and redeposited natural intermixed with building debris. We're trying to understand this before we take this layer off. On either side of this deposition layer we've found what may be one, very wide, ditch running underneath this modern dump. Some hard mattocking has also uncovered what may be several individual features cut into the natural. Only time will tell - looking forward to finding out tomorrow!

Despite a bit of rain, today has been great fun, what with the antics of Alex and John, a caged Hayley, and Simon's walkie talkies aiding cross-field communication!

We're going to start finds washing tomorrow, so hoping to post some juicy pictures of pot in the next blog post.

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7th July

Today has been a strange day! We evacuated the hall for a pilates class and set up camp very comfortably in the marquee, only for some scaffolders to turn up to fix the hall roof! However, not many marquees can boast their own tea urn and wifi hub...

We continued excavating yesterday's features. In Area 1 we've almost finished recording the strange modern burning and redeposited natural, have planned it, and are probably going to mattock it off tomorrow. Amongst the redeposited natural, Josephine uncovered the butchered remains of some animal all clumped together in a pit. We think it's a sheep/goat, but need to get it formally identified. I couldn't resist hoiking the mandible out while Josephine's back was turned, and then posing with it... And here's Alfie, our budding SHARP archaeologist, posing with it as well.

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Alex, John and Emily have finished the Medieval ditch in Area 1 and are going to start their recording tomorrow. The diggers in Area 2 are still slogging through their massive ditch, pulling out some very nice Medieval pottery. I think we may need to do some serious mattocking tomorrow lest everyone loses heart! At the top end of the field, David, David and Glenis have completed excavating their Medieval ditch (I said there were a lot of ditches!) and took their photographs this afternoon. Tomorrow morning they're going to learn the intricacies of context recording, before moving on to the next feature...

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Simon and James gave a talk on how to draw sections and plans at lunch time, including a 'Double D Ditch' illustration that had to be seen to be believed... At this point our Jigsaw boss turned up! Jo has been busily organising our Medieval Pottery Making courses for tomorrow, and we were also pleased to see that the bricks and wood for our Roman kiln have arrived - it's going to be fascinating to watch how kilns are built next week! We've also been busy washing finds today. I promise we'll have some nice pictures of pot tomorrow.

 

 

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Sat 4th

Our Jigsaw Training Dig has officially started! Today saw a select group of participants learning how to watch machines excavate the trenches for our dig. Our initial plan was to open three trenches, targetted over anomolies on the geophysical survey. Unfortunately our first trench didn't turn out as expected! We were hoping to cross two ditches possibly forming some sort of enclosure, but instead uncovered some relatively modern burning and building debris, some redeposited natural, and a couple of possible features.

After that we moved on to our next trench nearby, which found the ditch highlighted on the geophysics spot on! Pleased with this success, we decided to move up the field to a extend a small trench previously dug by the History Group, which uncovered a ditch containing vast quantities of Medieval pottery and bone. We now have a large ditch exposed here, plus possibly several other features.

We then moved to our third trench area, and dug two small trenches where we suspect an original manorial building may have stood. We've uncovered a possible beam slot for a building, and another big ditch! I think this dig may be the dig of the big ditches...

Plan for tomorrow is to hoe down several trenches, start pre-ex planning features, and excavating them. Twelve people booked tomorrow, then many more in the weeks to come. It's all rather exciting!

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