Setting out the trenches

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Mick James, Sam Thomas

Weather: overcast, threatening rain

Stripping Trench II

The first trench to be stripped: Trench II

The intention to use GPS to locate the trenches has been thwarted by its inherent inaccuracy. The attempt to locate the first trench was putting us so far away from where it ought to be that we would have ended up digging it in the wrong field! Betrayed by technology on our first day…

So we’ve had to do it by measuring tape, which makes me very nervous. What’s really frightening is that Trench I is 265 metres from the fence; we’re bound to be some metres out from where we need to be. On the plus side, even with these inaccuracies, one of the trenches does seem to be inside the possible henge and the other, 50 metres away has to be outside it.

The digger has started on Trench II. Already at the north-eastern end, we seem to have a feature. Let’s hope this is an omen of good things to come.

The geology in Trench II is horrible: a really claggy chalk marl that looks as if it will be awful to trowel. Nevertheless, three features are visible, one of which has a large piece of bone in it. Trench I, by way of contrast, is coming straight down onto chalk rock with only 0.2 m of topsoil. Features show up beautifully! We appear to be rather more to the south than I’d anticipated, so rather than going across the ditches at right angles, we seem to have two arcs. What is interesting is that there seems to be a denuded bank of redeposited chalk between them, which would confirm that we do indeed have a henge. On the other hand, there is what appears to be a cremation burial in one of the ditches (although as it’s high up in the fill, it is clearly secondary). Trench III, close to Trench II also has the nasty chalk marl natural, but we do seem to have a linear ditch crossing it. The next few days promise to be interesting!

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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 17 August 2010, in Fieldwork, Stapleton's Field Dig 2010. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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