The third week begins

Wednesday 10 August 2011

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Caoimhín Ó Coileáin, Siân O’Neill, Mark Perks, David Sims, Mervyn Evans, Oscar Farley, Lisa Waldock, Maddy Turner, Karen Price, Sarah Saxe, Nick Smith, Greg Ford, Sid Rowe, Nigel Harper-Scott, Tony Driscoll, Christina Farley, William Peters, Christl Squires, Helen Gillespie, Jackie Iredale

Weather: overcast, sunny spells, dry with a light breeze; more sunny spells by late morning, with the wind speed picking up

Arrived early and wandered across to site to check it was secure. We’ve never had issues before, but a visitor to the site on Sunday did say she’d seen detectorists lower down in the field a few weeks ago (Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation does not permit the use of metal detectors on its land); there was nothing wrong. Perhaps I’m being over-cautious following the last four nights of rioting and looting across England!

Finds processing

Finds processing© Christl Squires

We may have a slightly larger team some days this week, which will be very useful, as we’ll be reaching the halfway point of the excavation on Friday. We are making the right sort of progress, although I really want to see all of (35) removed so that we can define the outer ditch at the west end of Trench I. The excavation of the inner ditch is proceeding well; given the angle of slope to its sides, we ought to bottom it this week.

We had a visit by Gil Burleigh around mid morning. He found the site much easier to understand than last year, now that discrete elements such as the bank and inner ditch are clearly visible. By the Open Day on 27 August, there ought to be a great deal more to see.

Blogging on the first day of the working week always presents me with a real challenge. As well as feeling like a Monday morning, when I can’t always remember precisely what I was working on before the weekend, there is also the fact that other people feel the same way. There is also little continuity between the people who are available on Sundays and those who come in on Wednesdays.

There is now a potsherd from the inner ditch, the first to be found in its fills. It looks to me to be very much more Bronze Age in character than anything else I’ve seen so far from the henge deposits, which is good, as this is the latest surviving phase of its use. This is pushing use of the site into the later third millennium BC and will be interesting to compare with the radiocarbon dates from the animal bone (when we get them).

Burnished black potsherd

A sherd of sandy, hard fired, burnished pottery of Neolithic date

It feels like a fairly uneventful day; presumably, this is because all the systems are working smoothly now. Finds recording would benefit from the use of an EDM (I suspect that it could result in an increase of speed of up to ten times), while an on-line recording system using a 3G mobile ’phone or tablet PC would speed up post-excavation processes. I also feel that there are still issues integrating the excavation of finds with their subsequent processing. As the wind is becoming more gusty, there is an increased risk of losing finds, records and even bits of equipment. We do need to be vigilant and this is where a site office would be very useful.

A small glass bead has turned up in (75), the colluvium deposit in Tr IV, which looks to be an early medieval (or conceivably Late Roman) type. It appears to be bluish, but I think that is largely a result of oxidisation. The bead is so small that it’s unlikely to be in situ and could easily have fallen through a worm hole (and not the sort that derives from rips in the space/time continuum). Another non-prehistoric find was made earlier, by Gil, who spotted a Roman bronze coin (late third or fourth century) on the spoilheap at the east end of Trench I. Not exactly the sort of find I want, but it all adds to the overall picture of Romano-British activity in the countryside around Baldock.

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Posted on 10 August 2011, in Fieldwork, Stapleton's Field Dig 2011. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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