End of the fourth week: Sunday 5 August 2012

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Caoimhín Ó Coileáin, Aimee Crossland, Amelia Weatherill, Ashley Tierney, Chris Hobbs, Christl Squires, Dorien de Vries, Emma Winter, Frances Bourne, Frankie Saxton, Graham Faint, Alex Faint, Isobel Simmons, Ivor Davies, Jacky Winter, James Reid, Jan Turner, Jane Males, Jane Williams, Jeremy Disley, John Byrne-Nash, Keeley Hale, Martin Jupp, Mel Moore, Natasha Males, Nigel Harper-Scott, Philip Dean, Priscilla Simmons, Tony Driscoll, Tom Westrope, Victoria Crawford

Weather: overcast, very occasional sunny spells, a few spots of rain, with obviously heavy rain to the south

We have opened up a fifth section across the outer enclosure ditch, where it bends more to the south. All of the sections are producing significant quantities of Roman tile, which suggests that there were several sizeable buildings immediately uphill from it. I imagine them to have been workshops (perhaps including a forge) and warehouses. There is a badly weathered but substantial posthole inside the entrance which is in the right place for a gatepost; it lines up with a series of what appear to be stakeholes from a fence line. We seem to have a real industrial complex here, albeit one for which virtually all the structural evidence has gone.

Work has resumed on the sondage, including a new 1 m wide section against the edge of the trench. This starts in colluvial deposit (153), which is beneath the upper colluvium, (21). It is also producing Roman material, showing that the outer ditch was completely silted by the Roman period.

The “complete” vessel, <5750> ,in special deposit (172) was completely removed yesterday and Frankie is trying to define and empty the feature in which it was placed. There are hints that it was supported by flint packing around the base in a cut that was barely bigger than the pot. The vessel itself seems to have been broken by compression rather than ploughing; this evidently happened in antiquity and I wonder if someone simply stepped on top of the backfilled feature before the fill had consolidated around the pot.

We have been very lucky with the weather so far today (and saying this is usually a signal for it to change for the worse): although there is an 80% chance of rain, it has all passed either side of us. At the start of the project, we had experienced weeks of much higher than average rainfall, with no sign of an end to the pattern, and I was afraid that we would only be able to be on site for three days a week at most. Fortunately, I’ve been proved wrong.

On Wednesday, we need to get the henge fully planned as a matter of urgency: no finds can be dealt with until the plan has been surveyed. This should mean very limited digging. The thing that is holding us back more than anything is the wind: we can’t get last year’s plans spread out to compare with the sketch of the site. One solution is to assign new context numbers and compare them later, but this seems a bit wasteful when we already did so for the section drawings at the end of last year’s season.

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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 5 August 2012, in Fieldwork, Stapleton's Field Dig 2012. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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