Continuing the dumped deposit

Saturday 14 August

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Mervyn Evans, Pauline Gimson, David Gimson, Nigel Harper-Scott, Ernie Ford, Chris Hobbs, Clare Skelly, Russell Turburville, Nicky Blanchard, Christina Farley, Oscar Farley, Tony Driscoll, Sophie Brookes, Elizabeth Brookes

Weather: overcast, breezy, slightly spitting with rain; clearing by early afternoon, turning sunny and warm with light cloud

Deposit (14) continues to go down and is turning out to be thicker than it appeared in the section dug deeper at the end of last year. There is still a distinct hump where the platform was visible as an earthwork. There must be a building under here!

The possible wall foundations seen in the south-western extension have turned out to be wider than they originally appeared and are spreading across the entire width of the trench. This means that it is almost certainly not a wall foundation but a laid surface. The elm roots in this area are a real problem, making the ground between them much harder: it’s become apparent that the probable surface runs beneath these harder patches.

A busy morning on site

A busy morning on site

There is more medieval material turning up now and very little of the sixteenth century types found in the top of the deposit. This makes me think that the sixteenth-century finds were partly things dropped on the contemporary ground surface that were subsequently incorporated into (14) by bioturbation (probably worm action). This could therefore mean that the deposit is slightly earlier than the sixteenth century (although not much earlier: there are things I think are fourteenth- or fifteenth-century in it).

In two places, a deposit underlying (14) is being reached: at the top of the slope, where Tony and Nigel are working, it’s a sandier deposit, whereas on the slope, where Pauline and David are working, it’s more clayey. Both have significantly less chalk than (14) and both are of a slightly different colour. It’s good to finally be getting through this material: it’s taken the best part of two weeks!

In the washing of material from (14), there has been a good variety of objects. I’ve just spotted a sherd of Bronze or Early Iron Age pottery, dating from the second or early first millennium BC. It’s the first piece of this date to be found in this year’s excavation.

Bronze Age or Early Iron Age pottery

Bronze Age or Early Iron Age pottery

Russell is working in the south-western extension and is finding that the “surface” extends the full width of the trench, although it is more raised to the south-east. I still wonder if the higher part is the remains of wall foundations and the lower part the base of a floor. Time will tell, but it’s good that we at last have some sensible results from this area, which I tended to neglect last year because of the horrible root disturbance (bioturbation again!). In the material coming out from the interface between the “surface” and the deposit above, there’s a sherd of fourteenth- or fifteenth-century pottery and a small quantity of smashed animal bone.

I hope that we’ll have removed (14) by the end of tomorrow. While progress on it has been slow, I really don’t regret not using mattocks, as we’d have missed a lot of data, not least the way in which the Romano-British pottery was restricted to a narrow level within the deposit and the positions of large stones that demonstrate that this was a dumped deposit. With a good push next week, we ought to be into information-rich medieval deposits associated with contemporary occupation.

Stroppy bullocks taunt us with what they want to do to the site

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

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