Sunday 21 July 2013: end of the first week

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Keeley Hale, Ashley Tierney, Christl Squires, Deborah Curtis, Frances Bourne, Ivor Davies, Mervyn Evans, Nigel Harper-Scott, Philip Dean, Rhiannon Gardiner, Graham Gardiner, Tony Driscoll

Weather: overcast, light breeze, warm (19° C at the start of the day)

After four days on site (which actually adds up to only two and three-quarters days of actual work), we are at a point where we will be beginning proper excavation by lunchtime, I hope. The trowelling has produced a fair number of finds, mostly Neolithic (although there are some later objects from topsoil (199)), and it is clear that the site will continue to be productive of artefacts. Having checked last year’s licence for the exhumation of human remains (number 12-0146), I have found that it expired on 30 September 2012, so I will need to renew it before we can tackle the disarticulated bone.

Rhiannon and Frances made a new barrow access point at the western corner of the site before morning tea break, which will allow a new spoil heap to be established there. This will take the material used to backfill the inner ditch section at the end of the 2012 season. We can make a start on this later this morning.

Keeley has suggested that we make finds recording from the outer ditch section a priority, so that there will be minimal delays in this area, with which I am in full agreement. This is important, knowing the scale of the ditch: we will be able to complete its hand excavation, but it will be tight. Nevertheless, this is something that we do need to complete this season, as we need secure dating evidence, both archaeological and scientific.

Things seem to be quite quiet this morning: we have the smallest team so far and more people are occupied with non-excavation matters such as planning and finds recording than previously. Once the inner ditch has been emptied, we will be able to complete the trowelling of the remainder of the trench. The 3D finds recording is progressing, albeit more slowly than I would like (but this is always the case!), and ought to be complete by lunch time (with the possible exception of the outer ditch).

We have reached the point of assigning new context numbers, four to the outer ditch section and two to areas around the edge of the henge bank. The new henge bank numbers relate to what appears to be a relict Neolithic topsoil beneath the bank and to material on the berm between bank and outer ditch. It feels like real archaeology now!

The inner ditch backfill was emptied soon after lunch and it is now being cleaned. We need to check where we had reached at the end of the 2012 and will be able to complete its excavation. I suspect that there can be very little left inside it by way of fills, so we ought to get it finished early next week, which would be a relief, considering that we started to dig the section in 2011.

The sun is beginning to break through the clouds and as it does so, it is getting inexorably (and rapidly) hotter. By the time we left site, it was touching 30° C.

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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 21 July 2013, in Fieldwork, Stapleton's Field Dig 2013. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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