End of week 5: Sunday 12 August 2012

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Caoimhín Ó Coileáin, Aimee Crossland, Ashley Tierney, Chistl Squires, Franke Saxton, Graham Faint, Alex Faint, Greg Ford, Hannah Blannin, Ivor Davies, Jan Turner, Jane Males, Jon Goodwyn, Lyall Watson, Mark Perks, Martin Jupp, Nigel Harper-Scott, Philip Dean, Rachael Mills, Tony Driscoll, Zoë Uí Coileáin

Weather: hazy sun and occasional light cloud, dry and a slight breeze; a few grey clouds by late morning

Rachel is starting to clean up her cremation pit for final recording, while Jon is starting the excavation of the second (still only potential) cremation burial. Jon’s burial seems to contain more carbonised wood than anything, while there are only tiny fragments of possibly calcined bone that may or may not be human. I am still unclear about the dates of these features and wonder if they might potentially be Romano-British (although I think that is unlikely).

The outer enclosure ditch sections continue to be excavated. The terminal of the western branch is almost finished, so it will be recorded by the end of the day. The others are still a little way off being completed and won’t be done today. In the westernmost section of the western arm of the ditch, there are some fragments of what appear to be a broken Black-burnished Ware “dog dish” (more probably a type of lid), while there is a large rimsherd from a Harrold type shelly ware jar that looks to me to be of second or third century form.

As Jon excavates his feature, it looks less and less like a cremation burial. There is no definitely calcined bone, no unburnt human bone and at least one fragment of unburnt animal bone. It may be that, owing to a bit of machine truncation, we have part of a more general spread of burnt material that happened to look like a discrete feature. This makes the definite cremation burial even more important.

All the enclosure ditch sections are beginning to exhibit the same initial silting: a compact deposit of chalk rubble containing potsherds rather than tile fragments. This may indicate that they have basically the same sequence (although it may not have appeared that way during excavation). The pottery suggests that silting began in the later second century (perhaps); the tile in the upper layers may attest to periods of rebuilding (or, at least, re-roofing) or dereliction, some years later.

The terminal of the western arm of the enclosure ditch has now been photographed, and Aimee and Ashley are about to start drawing its section. Greg has the section drawing of the ring ditch under way, too. It really is beginning to feel that we are accomplishing important things, especially since Rachel has excavated her cremation burial.

Typically, my confident assertion that all ditch sections are beginning to look similar has not been borne out by further excavation. The westernmost section across the western arm is now looking quite different from the other sections. This is why we never dig just the one section.

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

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