Thursday 9 August 2012

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Caoimhín Ó Coileáin, Aimee Crossland, Ann Pegrum, Arlene Walker, Bernie Matthews (morning only), Claire Halley, Eden Walker, Eleanor Betts, Frankie Saxton, Hannah Blannin, Isobel Simmons, Ivor Davies, Jan Turner, Jean Andrews, John Byrne-Nash, Jon Goodwyn, Kit Carstairs, Nigel Harper-Scott, Norman Norrington, Pauline Gimson, Philip Dean, Priscilla Simmons, Rachael Mills, Sara Butler, Shona Nash, Sid Rowe, Steve Warner, Tony Driscoll, Tony Ireland, William Hurry

Weather: misty to start, clearing quickly to sunny and dry, clouding over during the morning; sunny spells in the afternoon

Philip is continuing to survey the henge. It’s a time-consuming process and I wish that I had got it started a week ago. However, just getting a plan will help so much with understanding the stratigraphy, not least because the large trench allows us to connect both sides of the monument in a way that wasn’t possible when we were excavating linear trenches.

The outer enclosure ditch sections continue to go down, even though they are clearly going to be relatively shallow. There is still a lot of tegula coming from their fills as well as the odd potsherd (mostly generic Romano-British stuff with no diagnostic features). In the deeper section within the sondage, there has been a Roman hobnail on the interface between (192) and the underlying material. I am hoping that the underlying deposit will be pre-Roman; next to this section, this new deposit appears to overlie fills in the top of the henge outer ditch.

We have begun the excavation of a second posthole inside the henge.  This is the one with evidence for burning in situ, with carbonised wood and fired soil. Its history is thus quite different from the post investigated last year, which is also being investigated (the other half of the post-pipe is being removed today). Excavation of special deposit (172) was concluded yesterday, revealing a sub-square pit, [171]. The height of the pot it contained will give us an idea of the original depth of the pit.

Having found one hobnail in the colluvium, a second has turned up in one of the enclosure ditch sections. This is typical of archaeology just as much as buses: one can wait forever for a particular class of artefact only to find that lots start turning up as soon as the first has been discovered.

Just before the end of the day, we had the complication I have been dreading: deposit (212) is not the fill of a posthole that had burned in situ but a cremation burial. I have already telephoned the Ministry of Justice for an exhumation licence and, while we wait for an emergency licence to be issued, work on the deposit has ceased. It is certainly human, as it contains a recognisable phalanx and a molar (crown only). The size of the recognisable material is small and I suspect that it belongs to a child.

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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 9 August 2012, in Fieldwork. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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