Cleaning off the backfill

Friday 7 August

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Mervyn Evans, Muriel Hardman, Mick James, Pauline Gimson, Phil Thomas, Philip Dean, Lorna Holding, George Hunt, Owain James, Tony Driscoll, Christl Squires

Weather: overcast, light mist and heavy dew first thing

As a result of yesterday’s rain, the remaining backfill is wonderfully soft and easy to remove. Most people are working in the south-western arm, where the underlying archaeological deposits were left in a very uneven state at the end of last year. There is standing water in the ditch at the bottom of the hollow way, so we won’t be able to clean that area until it’s drained away.

We’ll be planning the entire site afresh once it’s been cleaned of the bits of overburden that fell through the geotextile. Most of it has been removed, although the standing water in the ditch means that we haven’t been able to remove all of it. The exposed archaeological deposits do not look as dry as they appeared on Wednesday, so I’m hoping that they will be more easily excavated than last year.

Cleaning the bottom of the ditch proved impossible, as it kept filling back up with water as soon as the last lot had been sponged out. Muriel was fighting a losing battle: we can leave it until the weather is a bit drier.


A very wet ditch

A very wet ditch


Tony and Philip made a start on planning what’s been exposed; although we have plans from last year, I want to make sure that in the different weather conditions this year, we can see the same deposits and interfaces. By and large, I think that we can, although there’s a small area of topsoil left on the western slope of the hollow way. Given the difficulties we had last year in recognising sand removing the topsoil, this is hardly surprising.

I managed to calculate the value of the Temporary Bench Mark as 80.33 m above Ordnance Datum, based on the traverse to Payne’s Farm that Tim Vickers did last year.

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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 7 August 2009, in Fieldwork, Norton Church Field Dig 2009. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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