The first week is over. After several days of labour - removing the backfill left by last year's diggers - we were left with a surface that, when trowelled, presented a series of abstract orange and white smudges that defied interpretation (at least to my eyes). This all seemed rather inconclusive and by Friday I was impatient to scrape it off and see what was beneath it. If progress seemed slow, it is only because my experience of excavation is limited to watching Time Team: I am therefore accustomed to think that three days should be ample time in which to complete an extensive programme of archaeological investigation.
This Friday I was tasked with excavating a small section presumed by Dan to be the traces of a wall (indicated by aforementioned white smudging). It did indeed look like a wall - lumps of stone and mortar were removed. Beneath all this lay tantalising clues as to what lies beneath the post-medieval layer currently exposed. A more substantial rock feature was visible. I was only able to view this through the 2x1 foot hole I was permitted to make, but I'm eager to expose more of it on Monday!
|Will Mo. puts his back into it. No toothbrushes used here!|
The morning was spent removing spoil from the eastern side of the trench – hard work but rewarding. I think we made good progress in a relatively short space of time. Whilst this was happening, several interesting finds were made by those who were peeling back the surface of the trench near-by, including Medieval and Roman pottery.
In the afternoon we had our first experience of post-excavation work. None of the finds recovered so far require particularly careful handling; most were washed in water with a toothbrush – a process fairly monotonous but important none-the-less. These finds were largely ceramic objects such as sherds of pottery, clay pipes and building materials (brick and slate). It is hoped that these objects will help in our interpretation of the contexts from which they came, and in this way even such commonplace objects as these will be of value. Whilst delicately toothbrushing a brick, however, I did wonder why this particular example had been selected for curation over the many others that had found there way onto the spoil heap...