Today almost didn’t happen…
Saturday 13 August 2011
On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Phil Thomas, Louise Pateman, Nigel Harper-Scott, Keeley Hale, David Sims, Philip Dean, Caoimhín Ó Coileáin, Zoe Ó Coileáin, Sarah Saxe, Karen Price, MJ Burgener, Carla Piper, Sophia Brookes
Weather: overcast and drizzling at the start, following heavier rain, but becoming dry by 10.15
After a telephone call from Caoimhín at 8.45 saying that there was heavy rain in Baldock and a text message from Greg saying that the weather in Watford was also bad, I initially and reluctantly called off excavation for the day. Then Caoimhín called again at 9.15 to say that the rain had stopped and the forecast was for clearer weather. In the meantime, I’d told Mervyn not to come in (sorry, Mervyn) and had prepared myself for a day working from home. By 10.45, we actually had sunshine!
Yesterday evening, I checked on the scale of classic henges, as I was becoming concerned that the secondary, inner ditch reduced to area inside the henge to an unfeasibly small size. Some classic henges, such as Fargo Wood, near Stonehenge, are only six metres across; many are only ten metres across. Including the bank, the second phase henge is some 30 m in diameter: it’s enormous!
The overnight rain has made it much easier to see context differences on site. Zoe is planning the feature at the centre of the henge and it is a lot clearer as a discrete feature than it appeared yesterday. It is also making the removal of (35) easier, as the colour of (59) beneath it is now more visible. We are still getting Impressed Ware and Grimston/Lyles Hill type Ware from it; how early is the outer ditch going to prove to be? It’s also just occurred to me that no Grimston/Lyles Hill type Ware is published from Blackhorse Road, nor is there any in the draft report; I will need to check the boxes of finds to see if any has gone unrecognised.
As we explore this site, I feel that it is becoming increasingly important to place it in its landscape. As well as the D-shaped palisaded enclosure at Blackhorse Road (published as Iron Age, but which I’m convinced is Neolithic), there is the Nortonbury cursus that needs re-examining to retrieve better dating evidence and the linear anomalies seen to the north of the henge on geophysics. We could also profitably look at some of the (presumably later) ring ditches in Stapleton’s field, as the earlier examples may be contemporary with the second phase of the henge. I wonder if we need to consider some carefully located trial trenches at some point in the future.
We have really mixed weather today: one minute it’s sunny and warm, the next it’s overcast and cool. The only consistent thing is the wind.
There is still a little (35) to come off the site; to the east, it overlies a new deposit that is chalkier than (59), to the west. I still suspect that (59) is the upper fill of the outer ditch, but I’m less clear about the origins of the ‘new’ deposit. Is it part of the ditch fill or not? Is it an activity deposit on the berm between the bank and outer ditch? We’ll only be able to tell once we have the ditch defined properly, which still seems to be a while off.
Chris has begun strimming areas outside the trenches in preparartion for our Open Day, in two weeks’ time. There is a great deal to tell the public this year and to put out as press stories. This time next week might be good for getting television and radio in; we’ll be able to advertise the Open Day using the media.