Saturday 25 August

Weather sunny and dry

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Tony Driscoll, Peter Owen (a.m. only), Chris Hobbs, Russell Turburville, Mick James, Mervyn Evans, Muriel Hardman, Nigel Harper-Scott, Phil Dean, Hilary Wood (late afternoon only)

There’s very little work left to do on site. Mick, Peter and Mervyn are attacking the north-western half of the pit, Tony is recording the linear hollow, Muriel is trying to define her feature more fully, Chris and Russell are giving the natural a thorough scrape to see if there are any more features, Nigel is finishing his posthole, while Phil is sorting finds. At this rate, we may even finish by lunchtime!

Winding down

Ironically, the good weather is making it very difficult to see colour changes again. We haven’t been able to strike the right balance between dryness and visibility during this project.

By teabreak, we had only two features under excavation and no others waiting to be dealt with. I wouldn’t be surprised if all we have left to do this afternoon is recording.

There is additional medieval pottery turning up in later deposits during sorting, which is perhaps an indication that activity here was intense even before the seventeenth-century farm was built. It may be that it was not newly-established in the seventeenth century, but merely rebuilt. Unfortunately, the truncation of the earlier surfaces during the 1930s demolition has meant that I can’t be certain of this.

By the end of yesterday, Muriel’s feature was growing. It was evident that chalk pebbles from (15) had compressed down into the fill and were masking the fuill extent of the feature to the north-east. Today, she has removed what remains of (15), allowing the full extent fo the fill to be planned. It now looks too big to be a posthole and it may be a pit similar to that containing (25) and (29). It’s produced a shed of pottery with a pale green glaze on a yellow fabric, which I think might be Saintonge ware: at any rate, it’s much finer than any of the other medieval pottery from the site.

I’ve been thinking about future sponsorship in recent days. We have various links on site to local institutions, such as Kryn & Lahy, where it might be worth approaching the parent companies for help. Even if we only get £50 or so from them, it will be worthwhile. I’d like to raise enough money to pay a supervisor for a couple of months next year and to pay for specialist analyses of the finds.

I have done a check on the context records and found only one that was not filled in. And it had my initials on it! Otherwise, we seem to be just about up-to-date with the recording (Muriel hasn’t described her fill yet and neither she nor Mervyn have assigned cut numbers to their features).

Typical teabreak fare on an NCAG excavation?

Frankie and Ros called in to see how things are progressing. Frankie brought us some doughnuts to have at afternoon tea-break.

Muriel’s feature is growing and beginning to look like another gulley parallel with [31] rather than a pit or posthole. The chalk of (15) that is compressed into its surface is still obscuring the north-eastern end of the feature. After tea, Chris helped her with defining it more accurately and found that the outside edge had been slightly underdug, while to the north-east it seems to be shallowing out and will probably terminate parallel with [31].

Tony and Nigel are drawing profiles of [31], as I realised that it hasn’t been done. It’s become more important now that it seems to be one of a pair (or more): I’m beginning to wonder if the gullies held elements of something that projected above the ground (such as a windmill, although this won’t have been one). I’m very unsure about what it might be, though.

As excavation progresses, Muriel’s feature is getting longer and is evidently going to terminate at a more north-easterly point than [31] does. So perhaps the two features aren’t related, after all. Even so, it must stop short of Mervyn’s pit, which clearly doesn’t cut it (and isn’t cut by it).

We finished everything just before 5 o’clock. The excavation is now over and we will be backfilling the site on Wednesday.


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

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