Wednesday 7 August 2013: the fourth week begins

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Ivor Davies, Bernie Matthews, Chris Hobbs, Christl Squires, David Croft, Emma Winter, Frankie Saxton, Jan Turner, Jean Andrews, John Baskerville, Jon Goodwyn, Julie Martin, Molly Barron, Priscilla Simmons, Paul Browne, Phil Dean, Rick Kelly, Sara Gee, Sid Row, Susanna Saldana, Thomas Burningham, Tony Driscoll, Tony Ireland

Weather: starting out overcast but getting sunny spells by 10.15 am, warm (up to 24° C at times)

We have a much larger team this week, although there is little continuity of personnel with last week, unfortunately. It does mean, though, that I have been able to put three teams into the centre of the henge to deal with the burnt patches (305) and (306), the complex stratigraphy to the east of these and to clean the area between them and the inner ditch section. The archaeology of this part of the site is very complex and will probably occupy us until the end of the excavation. At least we have three weeks to try to understand it all.

Chris, Molly and (temporarily, while Frankie plans the bank area) Emma are cleaning the area beneath (207), ready to plan the potential features that turned up last thing on Sunday. Chris will deal with the planning, so Emma, assisted by Molly, can return to deal with (293), the outer bank material. Chris reports that the fill of the easternmost of the two potential features sounds “hollow” as he trowels over it, which is a good sign that there is something different going on here (shades of bosing!). As potential features, these will require proper scale drawings rather than sketches with EDM location points (although the planning frame can be located by EDM).

This morning, we reached our 10,000th find. Not all of them are from the henge: Trench II from 2010 was entirely Roman, Trench III from the same year was Roman and Early Iron Age (unless the flint-tempered material is actually Peterborough type Ware), while last year, we had a lot of Roman material from this trench. Add to this the fact that some stones have been picked up as potential lithic material that will turn out not to be and it becomes clear that the number is inflated. Nevertheless, this is still a huge number of finds from the site, particularly a prehistoric one.

The stratigraphy east of the centre of the henge is resolving itself: the chalk rubbly deposit (257) overlies (259), the reddish deposit that is probably the same as (295). This is the opposite of what I had expected, but never mind. Tony Ireland has had a nice rimsherd of Grooved Ware from his deposit, (265), the relationship of which to (257) and (259) is still not clear.

Emma (joined now by Molly) has returned to the section over the bank. The deposit (293) is composed of small patches of different compaction and is absolutely awful to dig. There are also virtually no finds from it. The pre-henge topsoil is beginning to show through over much of the area.

A nice (undecorated) sherd of Grooved Ware has turned up in (313), a fill of the inner ditch. So far, apart from the lumps of daub on Sunday and Mervyn’s Grooved Ware sherd in a shelly fabric, there has been little ceramic material, which (I think) is a contrast from the section excavated in 2011-12, [81].

In the area south of the centre of the henge, the removal of (296) has helped to define a number of patches of burning. It is unclear how many are in situ burning and how many are dumps of ashy and carbonised material from elsewhere. They have been planned and numbered.

The two potential features in the entrance have turned out to be rather disappointing. The easternmost, [318], turned out to be a shallow bowl-shaped hollow with a few scraps of débitage inside its single fill; the other, [320], turned out to be even more amorphous, its fill disappearing rapidly. Although [318] gives the impression of being an anthropogenic feature, the same can’t be said of [320] and I’m disinclined even to refer to it as a hollow. Nevertheless, it is clear that if the material that appears to be the bedrock in this area really is the bedrock, then it is very uneven and the hollows in it contain a great variety of deposits.

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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 7 August 2013, in Fieldwork. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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