Grey skies but good digging
Thursday 11 August 2011
On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Siân O’Neill, David Croft, William Peters, Sophia Brookes, Elizabeth Brookes, Nigel Harper-Scott, Keeley Hale, Philip Dean, Pauline Gimson, Caoimhín Ó Coileáin, Suzie Hill, Sid Rowe, Greg Ford, Ernie Ford, Phil Thomas, Mervyn Evans, Lisa Waldock, Mark Perks, David Sims, Karen Price, Sarah Saxe
Weather: overcast following a rain shower around 9.00, occasional spots of rain, breezy and cool; rain showers from 11.30 to 1.45; turning sunny after 2.30
The weather threatens to turn against us today, but the forecast is that any rain we were due to have has already fallen. We’ll see! Pauline and Philip D are working on cleaning up the area in the centre of the henge and Pauline almost straight away found a rim sherd of Grooved Ware. Once again, the dating is exactly right for our henge. This is close to the spot where a Grooved Ware rim sherd was found last year and is also close to the burnt patches. The interior of the henge continues to be complex and fascinating. A few minutes later, Philip found another sherd.
I’ve said to Sophia that it would be a good idea if she, Christl and I have a meeting to go through the finds processing system, once the excavation is over. It’s becoming quite plain that if we are to process finds on site, we need to do it indoors; a portacabin would be ideal. The site is simply too exposed to allow us to process safely. It is also evident that the off-site washing and processing system has broken down completely, which makes it impossible to get any of the sites written up. This is especially concerning with regard to Church Field, where four trenches (one dating back to 2007) are no closer to having finds analysed than they were when we were digging them. This is an issue that needs to be resolved urgently. With Stapleton’s Field henge, this will be a few years’ off, but given the importance of the site, this situation must not be allowed to arise here.
The material in the centre of the henge is very dark and there is a lot of carbonised wood, mostly as small flecks. There are also patches of fires soil, although none is clearly derived from in situ burning. There are so far no signs of the anomalies visible on the geophysical survey; it may be that they are showing up concentrations of fired soil rather than cut features (although the 1976 aerial photographs seem to show them as cuts).
The weather is far from pleasant: there has been a near constant drizzle since 11.30. So much for the forecast suggesting that the shower at 9.00 was the last of the rain for today! We will continue to dig until lunchtime, when I will make a decision about whether or not to continue this afternoon. I’d like to, but it all depends on how wet and miserable other people feel.
The rain had stopped by the end of lunchtime and there are now actually patches of blue sky and occasional sunshine. This means that we’ll be able to continue excavating. More importantly, the huge number of finds turning up in the centre of the henge and the backlog of finds in (35) can now be levelled. After planning, levelling is the site procedure that is wasting most time and we need to find a way of streamlining it. Obviously, access to an EDM would solve both issues but in the absence of one, this is a procedure that’s currently inefficient.
Keeley has a large piece of Impressed Ware with a carination. There is decoration just above or below the carination, depending on which way up the sherd sits. This will allow us to identify the precise variety of Impressed Ware to which it belongs.
This afternoon has become a real contrast to this morning. Suddenly, it’s sunny (just because I needed to photograph deposit (79)!) and warm. The backlog of finds in the centre of the henge is being dealt with and everything will be finished more-or-less on time. Another improvement: levelling had reached a perfectly reasonable speed by the end of the day.