Wednesday 20 August

Weather: overcast, dry

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Tony Driscoll, Luke Gearing, Alan Goodwin, Georgina Farley, Oscar Farley, Christina Farley, Phil Thomas, George Hunt, Bina de Wilde, Christl Squires, Philip Dean (p.m. only)

Another week starts and we are half way through the season. I rather wish we were further ahead on site than we are – we’re still at the stage of sorting out some quite basic stuff – but there’s still a chance of completing the trench this year. One things that could speed us up would be to put just a section through the hollow way rather than excavate all of it that’s in our trench, which is something I’ve been thinking about since we started. It would probably give the best results on the south-western side of the trench, further from the junction.

We have a museum staff visit at 11 o’clock this morning, which will be slightly disruptive. Nevertheless, it’s good that other staff members get to see a bit of what I do and also understand something about the processes whereby the archaeological material that comes into the museum is recovered.

A quiet day on site

A quiet day on site

It seems really rather quiet on site: there’s no loud chatter and everyone is just getting on with digging. The weather is okay (but scarcely what one would expect in the middle of August) and although we’ve had showers threatened, they’re supposed to be light if they do occur. It’s also reasonably warm.

The thin chalk-flecked deposit to which I’ve assigned context (6) really does not appear to spread any further south-east than it appeared to do on Sunday. It is very superficial, too, although I don’t think that anyone is trowelling it away. Context (2) is still producing principally late eighteenth-century material and the few bits of nineteenth and even twentieth-century stuff that have come from it are either intrusive or a result of not clearing the topsoil thoroughly (I have never been happy that all the topsoil was removed). The situation in the south-western extension is worse: I think that there is still quite a lot of topsoil left over much of it.

Luke finished removing (13), which Muriel had started on Sunday, and the remains of the topsoil beneath it. I’m still uncertain whether the material in the very bottom of the hollow way is context (1) topsoil or a separate drainage gully fill. The main difference seems to be in relative moisture content.

Tony is removing (5), although he’s doing it with a trowel rather than m*tt*ck. It’s producing very few finds but it has to be a late deposit as it overlies the road metalling (12) and is barely beneath the turf. Given that the metalling represents a road that went out of use in the first half of the eighteenth century, the clay on top can be no earlier.

During lunch, the clouds have become somewhat thicker and it may be that we have rain before the end of the afternoon. There is also a group of people who are likely to be late back from lunch. Why do I feel that today is not going to be the most productive of the entire project?
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I’ve got Alan and Philip trying to sort out what’s happening towards the top of the slope. Alan is looking at context (10), which was supposed to underlie (9) and overlie (11), but there appears to be no difference between (9) and (11): I suspect that (10) is yet again merely the remains of topsoil that has not yet been removed. In future, I must be more emphatic about what is and what is not topsoil. Philip is looking at the edge of context (2), where it overlies (9), to see how it relates to the clayey material (8), to the chalky clayey material to its south-east and the chalky deposit to the north-east.

Luke has suddenly found someone to chat to and we’ve been through computer languages, computer games, communism and who knows (cares?) what else. After half an hour, though, it all ground to a close.

Alan soon found that (10) is indeed a small patch of topsoil overlying (9), confirming my instincts about it. It also appears that (9) and (11) are essentially the same thing. Philip also found that (2) overlies the chalky/gravelly deposit tot he north-east, although I’m not yet certain about how this latter deposit relates to (9)/(11).

There was a light rain shower around four o’clock which wasn’t bad enough to stop us working, but a heaver one around twenty-five past made me decide to pack up then. Even so, the rain didn’t last and the site will probably be just as dry tomorrow as it has been today. All in all, it was a quiet day making slow progress.

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

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