Saturday 18 August

Weather overcast following early morning rain and cool; occasional sunny spells by mid morning

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Tony Driscoll, Frankie Saxton, Peter Owen (early a.m. only), Greg Ford, Mervyn Evans, Phil Thomas, Chris Hobbs, Mick James

The struck flint from the Bronze Age pit

The overnight rain has not made the site too damp, as I feared initially, and we have reasonable trowelling conditions. Frankie and Peter are finishing pit fill (19), Tony is carrying on where he left off yesterday, Mervyn and Greg are cleaning across (17) at the top of the slope, Phil and Chris are removing farmyard surface (20) and Mick is planning the chalk in the south-eastern corner of the trench, which appears to overlie (20).

Frankie has discovered the only definite piece of struck flint from the site so far in her pit, which is very reassuring. It’s dĂ©bitage, but it’s still a struck flint and it’s been given a small find number. The feature is very irregular in shape, but we have a good profile across it in the baulk, where the relationship with (7) and [18] is also visible.

It looks as if we’ll get a full day of digging in, as the forecast heavy rain isn’t due to hit until late afternoon. We’re actually experiencing some sunshine at intervals and it warms up quickly in these sunny spells.

The possible pit under (20) has vanished. It was simply a depression in the underlying natural that had accumulated slightly more soil. At the same time, (22) is definitely above (20), although it still doesn’t explain why (20) is dipping down so much at this point. The chalk of (22) is horribly compacted, as if it is natural bedrock, but it does clearly overlie cobbles that are of non-local stone and at least one brick. As more is exposed, the cobbles can now be seen to overlie a light yellowish grey-brown clay that looks suspiciously like the capping of a pit, which explains why the cobbled surface had slumped and needed the chalk repair.

A probable posthole

A probable posthole

In cleaning up the section of the pit as it enters the baulk, it’s clear that Frankie has two separate deposits and probably two separate features: (19) is the dehumified prehistoric deposit, the fill of prehistoric pit [23], while there is another, browner deposit to the north-west, apparently contained in a cut that truncates the north-western edge of the prehistoric feature. It was in this area that the clearly intrusive iron nails and well-preserved wood were found, so we can now explain their presence: they belong not in (19) but in the fill of a later feature that truncates it.

Where Mervyn and Greg are cleaning over (17), there is nothing new showing up. What is interesting is that, despite removing a couple of centimetres of deposit, there is still a great deal of soil left in the natural, much of it in distinct linear streaks.

We’ve had a few flurries of visitors during the day. Although some have been prompted by the story in The Comet, others have just been passing. A lot of them have commented that once people know that we have stuff that’s more ancient than the barn demolished in the 1930s, they will take more interest. Let’s hope so!

Underneath (20), Chris has found what looks possibly to be the bottom of a truncated posthole. It’s immediately south-east of ‘Mick’s pit’ and on the line of its long axis, which makes me wonder if we’ve got a structure with earth-fast posts and sill beams.


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

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