Wednesday 1 August

Weather sunny and dry

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Muriel Hardman, Mick James, Tony Driscoll, Mervyn Evans, Philip Dean, Evelyn Goodwin, Alan Goodwin, Kat Madison, Chris Appleyard, Chris Hobbs

Began with a Health & Safety briefing, handing out the Site Safety Regulations; people will sign to acknowledge receipt and compliance with them. I also explained the philosophy behind the excavation (which can be expressed as “digging for data, not digging for finds”).

Initial cleaning of the site

Initial cleaning of the site

Set to work trowelling as a prelude to planning; people are working in pairs, with one experienced excavator mentoring an inexperienced. So far, there are no finds processing people.

Muriel and I collated and stapled the Site Recording Manual.

Finds are not numerous and consist mostly of fragmentary ceramic building material or snails (which I suspect to be a burrowing species and of very recent date). The ground is very hard and dry, making it difficult to see context differences. At lunchtime, I will buy some sprays from the garden centre.

Bob Lancaster called in to site to discuss the private view of the excavation. We are going to hold it on Thursday 23 August at 7 pm. He’s given me a list of people to invite and I’ll let him know of any additions.

Trowelling was complete by lunchtime, when Gil Burleigh arrived to see how the site was progressing. It’s early days so far and we’ll probably not have much to show before the end of the week.

My trip to Bickerdike’s was not successful: they only have small sprays. However, the person I spoke to did tell me about the magazine Stotfold News, which covers Norton as well as Stotfold. We’ll need to get a story into the August or September issue.

The soil dries out rapidly

The soil dries out rapidly

On arriving back at site, I got Kat and Mick to lead the planning of the northern half of the trench, while Chris Hobbs took me down to Burymead to pick up the NHDC killersprays. On getting back to site, we found that they did not work, so Mervyn went home to collect his. While we were waiting, a representative from Hertfordshire Timber (which had supplied the fencing) came over to the site with a sign advertising the company, which we will display on site.

Two residents from Church Lane dropped in and solved a mystery. They live at number 6, which was apparently once number 20, which is where the Roman finds were made in the early twentieth century, during the construction of what are now numbers 8 and 10 (which were built in the former garden of number 6). They have two large bags of finds from their garden, which they are going to drop in for us.

Mervyn brought his spray, but it was so hot and dry that it had no effect. By four o’clock, we were getting nowhere, which was very frustrating, so I decided to pack up. With any luck, there will be a dew in the morning, which won’t have burnt off when we arrive on site, so we can finish the plan. I intend to train everyone up in the use of the dumpy level and general surveying techniques tomorrow.

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About Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews

I'm the Archaeology Officer for North Hertfordshire District Council Museum Service. I was born and brought up in Letchworth Garden City, so I have a life-long connection with the area.

Posted on 1 August 2007, in Fieldwork, Norton Church Field Dig 2007. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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