Thursday 25 July 2013: perfect digging conditions

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Ashley Tierney, Amy Brown, David Croft, Frances Bourne, Isobel Simmons, Frankie Saxton, Ivor Davies, Kit Carstairs, Mick James, Molly Barron, Muriel James, Priscilla Simmons, Sid Dring, Tony Driscoll

Weather: overcast following overnight rain, slight breeze

Today, the conditions on site are perfect for excavation, following heavy rain overnight (it was so heavy that it woke me up at 5.00 am). The colour differences are very visible, although I suspect that they will vanish as the breeze dries everything out. There is only a 10-11% chance of rain today, so we’ll be very unlucky if we get rained on.

We have slightly fewer people than yesterday, so no-one is digging the inner ditch: we can re-start that at any time. Ashley is in charge today, as I need to disappear after morning tea break to record some skeletons that have turned up during drainage work at a local church and will be doing the council’s corporate induction tour for new starters this afternoon.

I made a mental calculation last night: to empty the outer ditch, we need to remove some 4 cm of deposit from it each day. This is easily achievable, as according to Mick, about 3 cm of (292) were removed yesterday during what appeared to be a day of slow progress. I think that they have already removed today’s target and it’s not even morning tea break.

I left site around 11.15, so what follows is based on notes made by Ashley (thank you, Ashley!).

Not a lot has changed since yesterday, but progress has been made overall.

The outer ditch is starting to take shape with another few centimetres taken off. The finds have been predominantly Roman (and Late Iron Age) so far, with a small piece of Neolithic ceramic found. Pea grit was coming up at the interface between (292) and (291) beneath it, which suggests that the interface between the two deposits has been impermeable to worms at some point in the formation of the site.

The section Kit was digging in the burnt area turned up plenty of finds including animal bone, debitage, ceramics and a lot of carbonised wood. It appears to have been the site of some in situ burning during the use of the henge.

The L-shaped section across the henge wasn’t very productive of finds today. However, the finds that were coming up included animal bone, snail shell and lithics. The top soil (199) in the southern spur is close to complete removal and the team there is close to reaching the next context. The group in the eastern spur is also close to reaching the next context.

Frankie has been working hard to finish off the plan of north side of the site. Someone will need to finish off the eastern corner tomorrow, where the baulk isn’t straight. Whilst planning, Frankie also found a couple of sherds of shell-tempered pottery of a tye that we found in 2011 in colluvium (35) to the north-west of the henge. 

In total today, 250 finds were recorded by the finds team, which is impressive, so much so that we were running out of finds bags.
We finished at around 3.45 as the finds team worked efficiently and there wasn’t so much of a backlog of finds as yesterday.

(Back to my own comments)

Things are going very well on site and the team has settled into a rhythm and pattern of work that is very encouraging and that I hope helps maintain good morale on site. I’m very impressed by the team work this year and by the way in which capable supervisors are emerging from amongst the community Group’s members.

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

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