Saturday 9 August

Weather: clouding over, a few sunny spells, breezy but warm

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Luke Gearing, Phil Thomas, Kyle Brunton, Freddie Sharman, Lorna Boyd-Bell, Nigel Harper-Scott, Samuel Nobbs, Pauline Gimson, David Gimson, Greg Ford, Samuel, Ernie Ford, Tony Driscoll, Mick James, Muriel Hardman, Philip Dean, Chris Hobbs

Lots of happy (?) trowellers, all in a row

Lots of happy (?) trowellers, all in a row

It took a while to get started this morning as we were waiting for the plan of the north-western corner of the site to be done, but by 10.25, people were trowelling the topsoil. Judging from those areas where the turf was overdug, it’s going to be around 100 mm thick, so I’ve asked people to take it off in spits of arounf 15 mm thickness. That way, if there are any shallower parts, the underlying deposits won’t be damaged by inexperienced diggers and changes will become visible early on.

There are a lot of roots throughout the topsoil: it’s not yet clear how much deeper they have gone into the underlying material. Obviously, there will be most damage in the areas where there are decayed stumps, but I don’t know anything about the characteristics of elm root systems. Nigel has sent a text message to his brother, who apparently does know about them.

There are occasional spots of rain, but nothing to stop work at the moment. What is apparent is just how quickly the soil dries out: despite all the dampness yesterday, when it was soft and crumbly, the wind overnight and this morning has created a real crust that’s difficult to get through.

Very few finds are coming from the topsoil: yesterday’s post-medieval pottery may have come from an area where people had gone deeper during de-turfing.

There have been complaints from the local residents about people on site parking in Church Lane. There are two weddings today and there will be even more cars arriving at some point. While I have some sympathy for them, we’re not blocking access to their houses and it’s no more than I have to put with at home. Nevertheless, I’ve asked people if they would be willing to move their cars (and, it has to be said, there wasn’t exactly a rush to do so…).

The weather is getting decidedly worse: the wind is up, there has already been a shower and the clouds are getting thicker. If we can make it through to lunchtime, I’ll be happy. People don’t seem to find it easy to trowel: in most cases, they’re taking off no more than five millimeters at a time. Perhaps I can encourage them to be a little more vicious on their next spits.

We left at 12.30, when the rain became more-or-less constant. By 12.45, it was really quite heavy.

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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 9 August 2008, in Fieldwork, Norton Church Field Dig 2008. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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