Thursday 1 August: another sunny day

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Jim Skipper, Andrew Rylah, David Croft, Frankie Saxton, Ivor Davies, Jan Turner, Jean Andrews, Kit Carstairs, Paul Eland, Phil Dean, Sara Gee, Steve Warner, Thomas Burningham, Tony Driscoll, Ursula Scott

Weather: sunny, hot (26½° C at 9.30 am), gusty breeze

It is very warm today and as the forecast suggests that we will reach 32° C during the afternoon, I suspect that we will have to stop early. I can feel the effect of the sun on my arm, even with Factor 50 sunblock, so people will need to be very carful on site.

We have opened up the extension from the arm of the trench containing the outer ditch section into the monument: it reaches up to the looser material on the inside of the henge bank and covers the two principal deposits visible in the bank, the rubbly material (293) outside it and a small patch of colluvium (35). The sequence seems clear enough (apart from the relationship between the consolidated and looser bank deposits): (35) overlies (293), which in turn overlies the bank. This seems a reasonable progression, given that (293) looks to be material derived from the erosion of the henge bank.

Excavation of the outer ditch ought to make reasonable progress, as the fill seems to have retained moisture rather better than the deposits on the henge. This is presumably a consequence of the depth of the ditch. It now seems to be producing only Neolithic finds (although I would need to see the ceramics properly cleaned to be certain).

We had our first break at 10.40, by which time the temperature had reached 28° C: we are now into half-hourly working with fifteen minute breaks between. The breeze is refreshing, but is not helping with the drying out of the site that is making everywhere inside the henge very difficult to excavate, as there is a hard crust over everything.

Frankie is making good progress with the site plan and ought to be finished either by the end of today (if we get a full day’s work today) or early tomorrow. This is good! We will then need to use the EDM to get the edges of the trench to tie her plans in to the National Grid.

Things are progressing well: people are getting on in their individual area and know what they are doing, meaning that direct supervision needs only to be minimal. The number of finds is relatively small, so there is no difficulty with keeping up-to-date with locating, lifting and processing them. Everything is running very smoothly this year and coupled with our (generally) good weather, this is keeping on site morale very high, so far as I can tell.

It was over 30° C by 12.30 and, when we left the site fifteen minutes later, had reached 31°: perhaps the hottest day of 2013 so far.


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

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