Open day and better weather

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Cbris Turner, Chris Hobbs, Pauline Gimson, William Peters, Tim Vickers, Ernie Ford, Mervyn Evans, Nigel Harper-Scott, Tony Driscoll, Philip Dean, Greg Ford, Mark Perks, Lydia Howe, Mary Wood, Mick James, Muriel James (not digging), Phil Thomas (not digging)
Weather; sunny, light cloud, breezy

Having expressed doubts about the character of the “double ring ditch” yesterday and spending an evening becoming increasingly worried that it’s just an unfeasibly large burial mound, looking at the site this morning has removed my anxiety. This is not a burial mound: there are no turf stacks, the soil is too full of material culture to be just random dumping and the difficulties of the section can be explained if we are on the northern edge of the monument and we take twentieth-century ploughing into account. I’m back to believing that “henge” is the best explanation for what we can see.

We’re expecting a number of local dignitaries for the open afternoon. I understand that Oliver Heald MP will be coming, along with various councillors and Garden City Heritage Foundation people. The site has generated a lot of publicity, which is good for all the organisations involved, and I need to keep up the profile of the site over the coming months. I’ve mentioned to Chris Hobbs that I would very much like to publish an interim account in Hertfordshire Archaeology & History next year; there may be other vehicles for more popular publication.

Being on site enables a much greater understanding of the monument in its landscape setting. Across the valley in which the A1 motorway now runs, the Weston Hills are prominent with the henge site there on the skyline to the south-south-east of us, which can hardly be a coincidence. On the rise to the south-west, the contemporary settlement at Blackhorse Road would have been prominent at the time. The Ivel Springs occupy the hollow to our east but the river valley is completely hidden from view. The hills beyond give the real impression of a bowl with Baldock at its centre. All told, we have an enclosed landscape where there are no long distance views. Life here during the third millennium BC must have seemed pretty self-contained (dare I say secure to the point of being boring?).

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

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