The contrast with yesterday couldn’t be greater
Friday 19 August 2011
On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, David Sims, Pauline Gimson, Nick Smith, Keeley Hale, Mark Perks, Laurie Elvin, Caoimhín Ó Coileáin, Chris Hobbs, James Nauful-Power, Phil Thomas, Jim Skipper, Philip Dean, Tony Driscoll, Muriel James, Nigel Harper-Scott, Anne Pegrum, Sophia Brookes, Jon Goodwin, Lisa Waldock, Mick James, Siân O’Neill
Weather: sunny and dry, with a few light clouds
We have wonderfully soft soil today as a result of yesterday’s heavy rain. It is very sunny, though, and I suspect that everything will dry out rapidly. Things are carrying on from where we left off yesterday lunchtime; one team is dealing with the remains of (35), another with the internal ditch, Mark is excavating the central posthole, Philip D and Tony are cleaning back along Trench I across the north-eastern part of the monument, while Lisa, Jon, Mick and Muriel are doing the sections of Trench IV.
I’ve come out without my glasses, which are in the pocket of the coat I wore yesterday and which is now drying at home… There may be some “interesting” spellings on the blog today!
Mark has found a potsherd embedded in the packing material of the central posthole. In its unwashed state, I think that it is Grooved Ware or something similar as it appears to be too dense a fabric to be an Early Bronze Age type. If my identification is correct and the sherd is not residual, it puts our second phase still well before the end of the thrid millennium.
In cleaning in the bottom of the inner ditch, Chris has overdug slightly and has exposed an area of chalk on the west side confirming the line of slope seen in the chalk bank at a higher level. This means that we really do have a ditch here and it looks likely that the chalk to the west will continue under the turf line to join up with the chalky material to the east. The henge interpretation remains the best for what we have on site, thankfully.
We now appear to have removed (35) completely, exposing (59) and (96) beneath it. The next thing will be to sort out the relationship between them. Caoimhín suggests that (96) is on top of (59), which sounds reasonable. There does seem to be some disturbance visible in section on the south side of the trench, in the area where there has been an isolated concentration of large stones and some industrial residue. Unfortunately, it’s invisible in plan and I wonder if most of it lies outside the trench. It’s sealed by the subsoil, (61), so it’s still potentially ancient. The finds (principally the rim forms found last week) suggest a Romano-British date.
A sherd of what seems to be Grooved Ware has turned up in the superficial deposit, (99), above the turf line. It seems to be becoming the dominant material inside the henge, which is pretty much as I would expect. What I am finding slightly curious is the lack of Beaker material, which continues to encourage my belief that we are looking at an early henge, both in its formative phase and in its classic. Nothing I’ve seen so far forces me to think of a date as late asc 2200 BC.