End of the second week: Sunday 22 July 2012

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Caoimhín Ó Coileáin, Christl Squires, Emily Abrehart, Jeanette Watson, Charlotte Watson, Jordan Charalampous, Keeley Hale, Liz Hart, Martin Coard, Mel Moore, Nigel Harper-Scott, Oliver Sharman, Rebecca Harrison, Tom Foster, William Siddeley, Christina Farley, Oscar Farley, Richard Phillips, Martin Jupp, Zoë Uí Coileáin

Weather: sunny, a little light and hazy cloud, occasional breeze

Today is the first time that sunburn and dehydration may be serious issues on site. Although it’s only around 15° at the moment, the sun is strong and I can feel its heat through sunblock: it is clearly going to get stronger throughout the day and it is largely the breeze that is keeping the temperature down. The heat and the dryness will obviously have an impact on how much work we will be able to do today.

We are now a third of the way through the season. Although it may seem that we haven’t achieved very much (and I have heard murmurs to that affect among various members of the team), we have actually got a good deal done. Most of the topsoil has been removed, apart from over the outer enclosure ditch, which forms my current priority. I had hoped that we could have excavated our sections across it this week; this will have to be done next week. We must also get on to the henge. Again, I had hoped that we would be starting work on it this week. No matter what else there is to do, we must get it examined: it is the reason for being here, after all!

Nevertheless, we can now see deposits in the outer ditch for the first time and I have a strategy for dealing with them (I want to excavate a 1.5 m wide section inside the sondage to sample (and, I hope, date) at least the uppermost fills of the ditch. Excavation of the henge deposits will begin with a return to the inner ditch section started in 2011 and the posthole also started last year to get their excavations finished. We then need to put a 1 m wide section across the monument and start investigating the probable entrance. Again, we need to have work on all of this well advanced by the end of next week, by which time we will be half way through the project. I am happy to put off excavating a section across the outer ditch at the bottom of the slope until next year, by which time we will have data from the excavation of the sondage that will allow us better to predict what we are likely to encounter.

There is only a shallow chalk rubble deposit, (162), left in the bottom of the ring ditch [144], which will probably be out by lunchtime. That leaves a section drawing to be completed before taking the sections back to the edges of the trench. This will be done stratigraphically in case there are any finds in the deposits. I hope that this will all be finished by the end of Wednesday.

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About Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews

I'm the Archaeology Officer for North Hertfordshire District Council Museum Service. I was born and brought up in Letchworth Garden City, so I have a life-long connection with the area.

Posted on 22 July 2012, in Fieldwork, Stapleton's Field Dig 2012. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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