We're back for our 11th season during which examination of trench IV will be continued. Our work will examine the interior of the masonry building (the possible chapel) with its drain discharging into the ditch, the western part of the ditch feature where it is overlain by the medieval building and the underlying deposits. This year trench IV will also be extended to the south in order to locate and examine a stone structure identified during the excavation of a service trench in 2013.
Keep up to date with all the discoveries, brought to you by our daily bloggers.
Friday, 14 May 2010
My group started the day off with some photography, learning how to create the best shot for the best record. We all had a good go and took some decent pictures of a couple of features. During the afternoon we continued with some excavation and potentially made a good discovery. A linear ditch was discovered running through trench VI, which may be the robbed out remains of a boundary wall separating the church with the park or 17th century mansion.
We were graced with the presence of a male model when Mike C. arrived back from lunch with a dashing new haircut. Finally the day was finished with a site summary by Simon and a classic example of Ross tripping over.
All in all an enjoyable day.
Hayley updates us for Friday:
Rain, rain and more rain this morning, unfortunately. Group C had the job of drawing a section, which is a visual record of the stratigraphic sequence in which layers of soil have formed over time. Luckily we had waterproof paper!
A very exciting find was also dug up in the morning by Group D - a vintage crushed Vimto can. The rain kindly held off for the afternoon while Group C excavated the North area of trench VI. Mountains of clay pipe fragments were uncovered along with a green glass bottle, which was the same as the one discovered last Friday bearing "Edmunson's & Co - Liverpool Birkenhead" and what - again - looks like a witch on a swing. It must be a Friday thing. Spooky.
When will summer come?
Today started rather wet! Had there been anyone silly enough to amble through the park this morning - they would have seen a strange sight of hunched, wet students kneeling in the mud ...... praying, perhaps for sunny weather. Well.....actually we were cleaning back a wide area of the trench to try to find an 'edge' that could be interpreted as the original boundary of St. John's Church. While we were doing that, others were perched precariously on a ladder to try and take photographs of a 'feature'. One group was drawing a section of a trench ..... lovely sitting down job in the rain! Alas there were nobody to see us - how sensible!
Thankfully, this afternoon we had a lovely job of writing tiny letters and numbers onto tiny pieces of ceramics! I would have really enjoyed it, but I forgot my glasses. So with much squinting and reassurance from my eagle-eyed young companions I managed to complete the task. I am so glad I did not have to do the hundred or so of tiny clay pipes, like Aaron had to do!
Despite the cold and rain this week, it has been great fun.
Thursday, 13 May 2010
A unique find on site today - a sandwich the size of Nick's head! A perfect day for digging.
Michael C and Gary D report on Thursday -
This morning we had a chance to develop our drawing skills, we were given the task of drawing two sections of the trench to record the changes in layers and the cuts of the trenches. In the afternoon we we busied ourselves by mattocking and troweling away to level a section of the site whilst enjoying the brief bit of sunshine that we had experienced all day.
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
Rachel reports on Wednesday's activities:
This morning started with Jonathan and I cleaning up a feature (maybe a post-hole) so that it could be photographed by another group; this just involved scraping all the loose soil off the surface and did not really take that long. After this we moved on to bigger things, mainly uncovering the pipe that runs through trench VII. This involved digging a layer at a time (stratigraphically), carrying on from where yesterday's group had finished. After lunch it was my group's turn to start planning in trench VI. This involved putting up tape measures and setting up survey arrows every metre so that we could put down a grid and plot what features were in it. It started to rain as we did this, but luckily the paper we were using was waterproof so it didnt get smudged and dirty, which is always a good thing! We did not manage to finish the planning but we will get it all done tomorrow morning - hopefully without the rain!
And Jonathan writes:
The day started off for group A with some simple tasks around site such as the construction of the mini gazebo and putting up the banners. The rest of the morning was taken up with the troweling of one of the features on site so that it could be photographed, as well as extending the area around the pipes that were found in trench VII. The afternoon for group A was spent doing some planning in trench VI, which took up the whole time and is still not finished. The planning was temporarily interrupted this afternoon as the gazebo decided to make a move on the trench. Thanks to the wind, the gazebo did not survive its jaunt to trench VI and is, sadly, no more.
Michael D writes after a hard day's mattocking -
Whilst Danny and Ross were hard at work at their own jobs this morning, I was mattocking away in the trench, hoping to level out the surface so it could then be trowelled to reveal the contents in the soil below. Around mid-morning, the three of us were shown how to use a rather complex (and expensive) looking camera, as photos of the section and surrounding area were needed.
After lunch it was then back to mattocking and working through our context sheets together. The latter was unfortunately interrupted when the gazebo blew over! But ten minutes later and after some admirable team work, the gazebo was dismantled and back in the box, so we all could go back to our jobs. A good day's work today I think.
Dig Director Simon gives us an update:
We have been making good progress on the dig in spite of the weather being a bit cold and damp. I keep having to remind myself that its supposed to be the middle of May. Although I am supposed to be directing this excavation, I have had to absent myself for some of the time over the last two days to attend 'important' meetings and its encouraging to come back and see the new exciting features being revealed - like a rusty old iron water pipe! However, over much of the site there is an interesting sequence of stratigraphy and features being revealed which leads to interesting discussions (in spite of what Dean said the other day!). In past years we have been rather inundated by the public, not to mention footballers using our fence sections as their goal posts. Today, as we were packing up, Jane and I were looking out across the Park and it was quite deserted. Clearly archaeologists are the only ones mad enough to be out in this weather.
Meggen chips in
I don't normally get to spend all day on site (too much work to do in the office!). I'm impressed with the way things are shaping up. Urban sites are always quite tough - lots of layers that are hard to pick apart. Even after years of digging experience, it can still be tough to be sure you found the 'edge' of an old cut of a trench or pit. As Jonathan reported - our gazebo did bite the dust. The pain of this was somewhat eased by the chocolate donuts Aaron brought in today. If I can eat donuts, I might make it to site more often!
The day started off slowly in terms of finds in Trench VII; only a few small sherds of pottery, glass and the odd clay pipe piece were found, and the weather wasn't looking too good either. But, by the afternoon our luck had changed - the weather brightened up and in Trench VI we found a lot of pottery ranging from the 17th-19th centuries, including some pretty blue and white transfer/tin-glazed ware, as well as lots of clay pipe, glass and green bottle pieces. Although we are working hard, we are enjoying it and the public interest we have had so far has been very encouraging.
Dean's story of...Banter and Bribery
When members of the public look in from the barriers to our busy trenches, many crane their necks in an attempt to listen to our technical talk and interpretations of the complex archaeology that has been unearthed. In reality however, the stretches of laborious soil shifting are enlightened mostly by trench-banter. This usually consists of us interpreting twigs as pieces of Chester's lost Holy Rood, or discussing battle tactics for nerdy computer games. Today however, our team discovered that one of our members (Gary) has started Salsa lessons, which gave us plenty to laugh at for the afternoon.
On a serious note, our banter is a sign of good morale. Combined with bribes in the form of cakes and sweets from Meggen and Simon, it makes what is often a physically and mentally tiring job that little bit easier.
Monday, 10 May 2010
There was a bit of a chilly start today and in the morning my group were lucky enough to be in Albion Street where it was lovely and warm! We each washed a selection of the artefacts that we have found during the recent excavation. It was really enjoyable to see how an artefact covered in mud could actually be a beautiful piece of pottery or glass. There was an interesting fragment of dark blue glass which appeared to have the 'ye olde Optrex' stamp on it.
In the afternoon we attempted to plan a section of trench VI and then went on to use the level to record heights on the specific section of the trench. All in all a good day!
The most easy going day for group C thus far. This morning we were introduced to plan drawing. We drew a feature half-sectioned (when you dig out half the feature) by Hayley in the NE part of trench VI. It was very straight forward, but, most importantly, NOT MANUAL LABOUR!
In the afternoon the group had its finds cleaning session showing the yays and nays of washing objects. You could eat your dinner off those broken shards of plate. But the most important lesson today was when Mike C demonstrated excavation is destruction by putting a mattock through an intact glass bottle.
Today team A was digging treanch VII and we finally managed to find the features we were looking for.
After a morning of photography, Karen, Rachel and Jonathan managed to define the test pit that we have been looking for for the last 3 days of excavation and I finally found the pipe that's running through our trench. On top of this we also found clay pipe, pottery and glass as well as a tooth - probably from a cow.
Other finds of note were a whole glass bottle - up until Mike C put a mattock through it and some pistol shot found by our site metel detectorist.