Category Archives: Norton Church Field Dig 2010

The second Saturday at Church Field

On site: Phil Thomas, Chris Hobbs, Greg Ford, Ernest Ford, Nigel Harper-Scott, Tony Driscoll, William Peters, Anthony D’Andrade, Paul Palmer

Weather; kind to us and hopefully will last through tomorrow

Approaching the end of our time on the site, our tasks today were to reach the bottom of the ditch and reveal its shape, further investigate the pits or ditch against the north end of the trench that produced animal bone and pottery yesterday and resolve the faint linear feature between the ditch and the south end of the trench.

These aims were largely achieved by the end of the day and some interesting small finds recovered which should help to date the features.

Apart from more pottery (nice rim pieces) and animal bone, William found an iron buckle near the bottom of the pits and a further iron piece close by which could be a belt fitting. Greg produced a handsome clay pipe bowl with stem at the bottom of the ditch.

The faint linear appears to be just an undulation in the bottom level of the trench.


Church Field day 8

On site: Mick James, Paul Palmer, Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Lisa Waldock, Stephen Mason, Chris Hobbs, Phil Thomas, Ursula & David Croft, Sid Rowe, Tony Driscoll, Nigel Harper-Scott, Howard Webber, Christl Squires, Pauline Gimson

Weather : Overcast with sunny periods

Masses of people today. Quite a challenge to ensure that everyone was occupied most of the time. In fact, had to send our first reserve Mervyn home as I could not accomodate him… sorry Mervyn.

Lisa and Stephen tackled the ‘pit’ found late last afternoon which extends right across the trench, steeply slopes down to the northern end of the trench and undoubtedly extends further beyond the trench end. We have interpreted this as a boundary ditch (subsequently used as a rubbish pit) to delineate the boundary between the road-side slope and the property which probably lies below the platform on which the four trees now exist.

South of the ditch we removed Context 6 coming down onto a different irregular surface which we have called Context 13. None of these layers look like a metalled surface which leads to the conclusion that this must have been a very rough and uncomfortable trackway to travel over. Context 13 was removed revealing what I hope is the natural below it. This assumption will be tested in the next 2 days. However, about a metre and a half away from the ditch there is a residual area of dumped material which appears to be a levelling layer. We will be removing this tomorrow (weather permitting) in order to determine why this particular area required levelling.

We removed the residual context 8 over the ditched area to reveal an obviously cut linear across the trench. This will be carefully removed tomorrow as this may be the key feature that could allow us to date the origins of the trackway.

Day 7 Church Field

On site: Mick James, Lisa Waldock, Stephen Mason, Sophie Brookes, Tony Driscoll, Mervyn Evans, Sid Rowe

Weather: Cloudy initially then sun until lunchtime, sunshine and showers thereafter

Mervyn disappearing into the sondage

Context 3 has gone at last!! Context 6 (an irregular stony surface) now has been shown to extend all the way through the trench with the exception of the ditch area. Now that we can see the only candidate we have had for a road surface, it is possible to conjecture that the irregularities could be construed as a worn area parallel to the ditch some two metres away (possible wheel ruttted areas??). Tony planned Context 6 south of the ditch by the end of the day so after levelling we can start digging it.

North of the ditch Context 6 has been dug out to a context which has far fewer stones except for occasional large ones. This is Context 8 and is consistent with the ditch bottom and also goes under Context 6 south of the ditch. Context 8 was planned and dug out by the end of the day giving us the biggest surprise so far. Underneath was a yellow sandy clay with chalk and flint inclusions. However one metre from the baulk we appear to have a dark gray clay loam feature with large animal bones and teeth showing at the surface. Further investigation necessary tomorrow but it looks like we have a rubbish pit to dig.

A concentration of teeth and bones that appear to be in a pit

Church Field Dig – Start of the Second Week

On site: Mick James, William Peters, Stephen Mason, Christl Squires, Sophie Brookes, Sid Rowe, Tony Driscoll, Lisa Waldock

Weather: Overcast, threatening rain (which did not arrive!), brightening later

North side of the ditch

Context 7 was removed by lunchtime, revealing a layer with the same appearance as Context 6 on the other side of the ditch. This seems to answer the question whether the ditch was an extension of the one that was found higher up the field last year or was a roadside ditch. Context 6 extends both sides of it. William and Stephen planned the new Context 6 and started to remove it.

Levelling the north side of the trench© Christl Squires

South side of the ditch

We continued to remove Context 3 which showed a context 6-like surface continuing under it. Lisa dug a sondage in the SE corner of the trench, went through Context 3 and the Context 6-like to find what may be natural about 20 cm below our current level of excavation. Now we know how much we have to achieve before Sunday lunchtime.

Working on the south side of the trench
© Christl Squires

End of the first week in Church Field

On site: Nigel Harper-Scott, Greg Ford, Ernest Ford, Mervyn Evans, William Peters, Christl Squires, Louise Pateman, Paul Palmer

Weather: a fine day but with less sun and sometimes a keen wind

Nigel, Mervyn and Ernest continued to remove context 3 which contained a scattering of pottery, bone and tile which became less as they moved away from the ditch. They eventually located a new stony surface near the ditch, which is probably a slump layer in context 6 and which most likely runs further back under context 3. Greg and Louise finished removing the rest of ditch fill context 5, trying to locate context 6 underneath. Horizons aren’t easy to see and textural changes are the best guide here. William cleaned the surface of context 7 and produced a plan.

Despite the complexity, good progress was made and glimpses of laid surfaces underneath these contexts suggest that next week’s digging should prove interesting.

Christl did a sterling job in washing the finds on site and the pottery sherds in particular are fascinating.

A shower or two over the next day or so will be helpful in determining horizons – as long as it knows when to stop!

Saturday, week 1 in Church Field

On site: Nigel Harper-Scott, Greg Ford, Chris Hobbs, Ernest Ford, Mervyn Evans, William Peters, Paul Palmer

Weather: fine all day

We froze as we entered the field through the church gate – it appeared as though the herd of cattle was inside our compound! Happily, they were only outside and surrounding it, so our first job was to chase them off.

The second task was to plan contexts 4 and 5, after which Chris, William and Greg removed context 4 working towards the ditch from the north end of the trench. Eventually a new surface containing animal bone and black pottery sherds was reached and designated context 7. Meanwhile Nigel, Mervyn and Ernest carefully removed the thin surface context 3, from the ditch to the south end of the trench. The ditch appeared to be a separate context (5) and after lunch break, Chris, William and Greg removed this and located further ditch fill context 6 underneath.

All contexts were recorded and planned and levelled and special thanks to William for his thoroughness in doing this.

Generally, it seems as though the ditch will be a shallow feature and further laid road or track surfaces are proving elusive at present…

Day 3 in Church Field

Present: Mick James, Paul Palmer (afternoon), Chris Hobbs, Nigel Harper-Scott, Mervyn Evans, Lisa Waldock, Christl Squires, Karen Leiper, Howard Webber

Weather: Sunny all day yet again.

Digging to the north of the road

This morning we had an unexpected visitor, Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, who had some bad news for us. A large number of the Context Forms for the Stapleton’s Field Dig had not been completed by the diggers. This led to a disrupted day for us. More of that later.

Finds processing

On our dig we completed the planning of Context 2 on the northern slope of the trench and then removed the context. There is a soil-like context underneath with almost no inclusions whatsoever. On the southern side of the gully we removed the remaining residue of the Topsoil (Context 1). By lunchtime we had planned the thin gravelly layer (Context 3) which can be removed tomorrow.

After lunch, the entire excavation team had to help Keith complete the deficient Context Records from Stapleton Field. I would like to remind all the Stapleton Field diggers that they have a responsibility to dig professionally. This means that the recording has to be done and done well. It is your responsibility to ensure that any context you dig is recorded adequately. This is particularly crucial on such an important site. The Church Field team have had to do your job for you to the detriment of their own Dig and we were not amused.


Present: Mick James, Paul Palmer, Philip Dean, Sophie Brookes, Alan Goodwin, Clifford Marshall, Mervyn Evans, Karen Lieper, William Peters, Chris Hobbs, Lisa Waldock

Weather: Sunny again!

We are continuing to remove the topsoil coming down onto a gravelly stony context. At least the recent rain has had some benefits. The soil is still extremely diggable although if we continue to get sunny days this may not last.

We have a stony, rubbly slope at the northern one third of the trench and a more level (although still sloping) gradient for the southern two thirds with a gully between.

If this the same as our last year’s trench, this gully may be the same ditch that was dug through the road surfaces. Alternatively, it may be a roadside gully with the N slope leading away from the road. Time will tell.
Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews visited us just before lunch and will be spending the afternoon with us tomorrow.

After lunch Chris, William and I took the membrane down to the henge trench in Stapleton’s Field and laid it over the henge contexts. Backfilling of the three Stapleton’s trenches is scheduled for Saturday.

By close of play, we have almost removed the last of the topsoil and have almost completed the planning of the northern slope, which will become context (2) tomorrow. The gravelly stony context to the south of the gully appears to be quite patchy towards the southern end of the trench and is likely to be quite thin. From memory there was a context like this in last year’s trench. First thing tomorrow we will give a light clean over the whole area to try to determine where its southern boundary lies.

Church Field excavation day 1

On site: Mick James, Paul Palmer, Christl Squires, Philip Dean, Tony Ireland, Mervyn Evans, Alan Goodwin, Karen Leiper, Clifford Marshall, William Peters (arrived 11.00)

Weather: sunny all day!!!! The forecast looks good for the remainder of the week so… fingers crossed


Starting to excavate the topsoil

As usual we are sharing the field with 10 large Welsh Black bullocks. Let’s hope they are less adventurous than last year’s class. We are here this year to try to find out the origins of the trackway through the field. Yesterday, a small core of helpers transported all the fencing to the field and pile-drove 20 posts. This morning’s first task was to erect the fencing on the posts. This was achieved by 10.45. The 10 metres x 2 metres trench was de-turfed by lunchtime!! I decided to setup two Temporary Temporary Benchmarks within the compound. This is because the TBM in the field is on the bullock’s drinking trough which is a long way away and hard to get to. Our first attempt at getting a benchmark reading on the trough failed because the water and mud was so deep that Karen (as the only one with Wellington Boots) declined to risk getting stuck. Paul and Cliff managed to find the answer; 2 pallets rescued from a nearby skip, I believe. A triumph for lateral thinking.

Water trough

Difficulty getting to the Temporary Bench Mark!

Digging started immediately after lunch. I was determined that we would try and remove as much of the topsoil as possible before it dried out so we attacked it aggressively by trowel.

Almost immediately we came down onto a chalky and stony gravelled surface in the northerly end of the trench which has been revealed for about 25% of the length of the trench so far. All in all, a very good starting day.

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