Priorities for the fourth week

Because we were rained off on Sunday, I didn’t get a chance to sort out priorities for the coming week. As ever, the previous week’s priorities weren’t fully met, but that is the nature of archaeology: we are so dependent on the vagaries of the English weather that any extreme of dryness or wetness slows us down or even interrupts work on site. So it was this week. From Wednesday to Sunday morning, the ground was becoming drier and drier, rendering it more difficult to trowel, while after 2.25 pm on Sunday, it was too wet to do any digging at all.

As a result, we still have to finish the excavation of the section across ring ditch [144]. This is turning into a more typical type of ditch surrounding a barrow, with nearly vertical sides and a flat base. Once the sections have been recorded, we can then excavate the remainder of it within the trench spur.

The next priority is the excavation of the inner enclosure ditch. We had been able to lay out three separate sections across it and begin work on their excavation before the rain started, but there was little progress on them. We need to have these finished and fully recorded before the end of this week. We also need to excavate at least one section to the east of the entrance.

On the henge, we have to finish the cleaning and then plan the visible deposits. There is still a large area where the henge deposits proper are obscured by a layer of what appears to be redeposited henge bank material in a former ploughsoil. There is little point in trying to remove all of this. However, it would be instructive to remove part of it to see if there is any evidence by which we can date it.

Possible structured deposit inside the henge

Possible structured deposit inside the henge

Within the henge, we need to finish the section across the outer ditch that was started (and almost finished) last year. We also need to locate the terminal on the southern part of the ditch; is is still very difficult to see the northern terminal.

I would also like to excavate a section through the activity deposits inside the henge, either down to the pre-henge topsoil (should it survive) or to the bedrock. We can perhaps do this along the line of last year’s Trench I.

We then need to locate any special deposits that may exist inside the henge. On Sunday, a square potential feature containing an apparently structured deposit with ceramics was identified and I suspect that it is not the only one. We need to excavate at least the one we already know about.

As ever, we are unlikely to complete these aims, but I want to get things started on each by the end of the forthcoming week. We are half way through the project and have made good progress, but we need to continue to make it if we are to stand a chance of answering any of the questions posed in the research design.

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

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