Thursday 14 August
Weather: sunny, clouding over as the day progressed, ending with rain
On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews (to 11.15 a.m.), Luke Gearing, Owain James, Alan Goodwin, Cameron Gormill, Alex Hill, Freddie Sharman, Phil Howard, Tony Driscoll, Mick James, Murial Hardman, Philip Dean, Hilary Wood, Anne Lake, Lisa Waldock, Clair Calver
The weather today promises to be better than the five-day forecast I saw on Tuesday was threatening. There may be an isolated shower later, but it ought to be lighter than any yesterday.
The principal task today is to remove and record the remaining topsoil. There has been a tendency to concentrate on the north-western end of the trench, over the presumed building platform, which means that there is still a great deal of topsoil to remove from the south-eastern end, over the hollow way and its south-eastern bank. There doesn’t appear to be a great depth in this area and I’m keeping the m*tt*ck firmly locked in the van. As I have to leave mid morning for a doctor’s appointment and will be at Letchworth Museum all afternoon, it won’t even be available. As I wrote yesterday in relation to not machining away the topsoil deposits, I see no sense in over-digging what could prove to be really quite sensitive archaeology. Just because it’s more recent doesn’t make it any less worthwhile recording. There is a pointless snobbery that equates age with importance, which is little more than a twenty-first century form of ancestor worship.
The light is making it very difficult to see anything on site this morning: it’s a really intense sunshine. On the other hand, the soil is beautifully damp, showing up colour changes nicely (when they aren’t obscured by sharp shadows). It seems that nothing is every right for archaeologists! Are we related to farmers?
Clearing the topsoil is proving relatively difficult: there is disagreement among the diggers about whether the clayey deposit is really different from the topsoil (although it clearly is) and those who think it isn’t real are tending to dig through it. This is something that needs to be nipped in the bud!
Kat Perry called in to site to give her apologies: she’s too busy to be able to come in and help.
During the afternoon, Muriel found a worked flint. It looked to be bifacially worked when I first saw it, but on closer examination it is a more regular flake. It has been blunted along one edge and a corner deliberately snapped off to created the shape. I think it was used as a transverse arrowhead.
Although I’d hoped to get all the topsoil removed by the end of the day, it wasn’t possible. A few patches are left over where I think the building stood and there is still a lot in the bottom of the hollow way.