The end of the third week and half way through the excavation: 29 July 2012

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Caoimhín Ó Coileáin, Christl Squires, Emily Abrehart, John Stanford, Frankie Saxton, Graham Faint, Alex Faint, Greg Ford, Jane Williams, Keeley Hale, Kit Carstairs, Laura Slack, Liz Hart, Mark Perks, Martin Coard, Mel Moore, Rebecca Harrison, Tony Driscoll, Pauline Gimson, Julie Martin, Richard Cano, Phil Thomas, Martin Jupp, Roxanne, Zoë Uí Coileáin, Ashley Tierney, James Fish

Weather: sunny spells, cool breeze but otherwise warm and dry; rain clouds gathering during the morning, but not actually shedding any rain

Panorama of the site on 29 July 2012

A panorama of the site from the top of the spoilheap, 29 July 2012

We need to get the western part of the outer enclosure ditch planned today, so a large team has been put to giving it a final clean. It really needs to be done before the rain hits, which is supposed to be around 1 to 2 o’clock. It looks to have shallow sloping sides, so I think that there won’t be too much fill to excavated from each section; I also hope that there won’t be too many fills, either.

The henge is continuing to be the most productive part of the site, as expected. There are now several areas of in situ burning, including a very neatly circular patch. I will investigate the costs and practicalities of archaeomagnetic dating, as this could give us dates independent of materials such as wood and bone, which may have been old at the time of their discard. However, dates before 1000 BC are subject to a broad margin of error (at least, according to the most recent English Heritage guidance, from 2006). Nevertheless, it’s worth exploring.

The western part of the outer enclosure ditch has now been completely cleaned, given context numbers ([167] for the cut, (168) for the visible fill) and photographed. We are ready to do a Total Station plan and, after lunch, start three sections across it. We will have a two-metre long section at the terminal and two one-metre sections, one around the iron object embedded in the fill, the other around the baulk. Depending on how many finds the fills contain, we may make good progress on it this afternoon (at least, we will if the rain clouds currently looming from the direction of Hitchin don’t send us home early.

Reverse of a coin of Cunobelin

Reverse of the coin of Cunobelin found today; probably issued in the 20s or 30s AD

Over lunch, Martin found a Celtic coin on the spoilheap. Unfortunately, it was among spoil that had been removed during the initial cleaning of the site, so we will never know where it was located before then. It is an issue of Cunobelin, of the type that has a seated figure of Mercury or Vulcan holding a metal-working tool in front of a cauldron on the reverse. This is the first Celtic coin to have been found as part of the project and takes the number of such coins from the Baldock oppidum to well over two hundred.

I spoke too soon, of course: around 2.25, it began to drizzle. Then it got heavier. Then there was thunder. Then there was hail. Without a coat, I took shelter under the tarpaulin with the records, while others, not all of whom had waterproof clothing, bravely surveyed in the finds, lifted them and got all the equipment back to the garage and the van. I am very grateful to everyone for this afternoon and have learned a valuable lesson: don’t leave your coat in the back of the van in an English summer.

Once again, thanks to everyone for helping get everything off site in atrocious weather!

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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 29 July 2012, in Fieldwork, Stapleton's Field Dig 2012. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. The photo came out reasonably OK! Delete if you don’t want it visible

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