Another sunny day (although it later turned wet)
Saturday 20 August 2011
On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Keeley Hale, Ernie Ford, Zoe Ó Coileáin, Martin Jupp, Chris Hobbs, Nigel Harper-Scott, Greg Ford, Tony Driscoll, Siân O’Neill, Caoimhín Ó Coileáin, Philip Dean, Julie Goodwin, Nick Smith, Jon Goodwyn, Oscar Farley, Phil Thomas, Christina Farley, Mick James, Muriel James
Weather: sunny, light hazy cloud, becoming cloudier through the morning
Today is another warm and sunny start, although the forecast is for a light shower around lunchtime and rain by 4 o’clock. While I trust these prognostications, I don’t trust their timing. We’ll see how it goes.
Now that (35) has gone, we need to find out the relationship between (59) and (96). I suspect that (59) is material in the top of the ditch and that (96) is a soil or subsoil that survives partly owing to its position on the berm between bank and ditch. Whether is predates or post-dates the digging of the ditch is another matter entirely.
The fills of the inner ditch are becoming more complex. There appears to be a patch of a harder deposit against the western edge; I suspect that this has already been partly removed to the north and is one of the reasons why defining this edge has always been so difficult. It appears to be overlying another deposit whose relationship with the turf line has not yet been established.
Greg is continuing the excavation of the central posthole. He may have reached the bottom of the upper fill containing packing material, as it is becoming stonier. There have been no finds yet today, which is not really surprising given that it’s a posthole. I suspect that we’ll only be able to date it through radiocarbon sampling (assuming that we get big enough pieces of bone or carbonised wood).
Mick, Muriel and Oscar are working on the colluvial subsoil, (75), that has formed against the bank of the henge. There is prehistoric flint-tempered pottery that is either Impressed Ware or an Early Iron Age type; I’m inclined to go for the former. These is also a reduced shell- and sand-tempered ware that does not resemble Harrold Shelly Ware or St Neots Ware; are we looking again at a Neolithic shell-tempered ware? Again, I need specialist advice on it.
We still have relatively large quantities of finds. They are mostly fragments of animal bone and lithics but include a reasonable quantity of prehistoric ceramics. All of the sherds are small, even those apparently in situ and unaffected by post-depositional processes. This makes me think that the deliberate smashing of pots was part of the rituals going on here; the bone seems equally to be shattered into unnecessarily small fragments, more than would be expected for extracting the marrow. Are we witnessing a Greek style plate-smashing or Russian vodka glass smashing party atmosphere as part of the ceremonies?
Caoimhín and Siân are working on the site matrix. It is relatively straightforward: after all, this is a rural site. Nevertheless, there is a definite stratigraphic sequence, which can be divided between the two (or more) phases. The main areas of complexity are the inner ditch and the activity deposits through which it was cut. The outer ditch is unfortunately stratigraphically divorced from the rest of the monument thanks to the presence of the berm.
The weather is not changing vastly (a few greyer looking clouds are drifting over), so the lunchtime shower now seems less likely to happen. Nevertheless, the breeze is picking up slightly. Within 15 minutes, the rain started… I’ll never get a job with the Met Office!
By the end of lunchtime, the light rain had stopped and it was possible to go back to work as normal. It is now much cooler than before, with more of a breeze and the very occasional spot of rain. There was a light shower again at 2.45.
During the afternoon, one of the teams had finished section drawing, so they moved on to investigating the north end of (48). This is the colluvial deposit that forms uphill of the henge. Once again, all the finds appear to be of Neolithic type.
Around 3.30, the rain returned, so we stopped work. Ironically, this had also more-or-less stopped by 4 o’clock, but there was no way of knowing that this would happen.