Clare Castle Day 8 – Latest news from Trenches C and D

Trench C is still continuing to puzzle. Yesterday it was all looking very modern, and that’s still the case for the bank, which is still turning up modern material close to its base. The water-filled cuts which define the edge of the V-shaped have also been shown to contain modern material indicating it has been open until relatively recently. But having used a pump (thanks for that, Neil!) to remove the ground water that seeps rapidly into the trench the minute baling stops, it’s been possible to clear up the sections, and its clear that there is an earthwork feature above the V-shaped gravel base, and there is not evidence from this so far to suggest it is modern. Rachel, a historian about to begin a PhD in medieval gardens has been very helpful, and today sent us this link which shows the area clear of trees. You can see terraces and channels laid out in a regular pattern, which could easily be pre-modern, and if they are, the medieval period is probably the most likely period for their construction, given our current historical knowledge. Digging will continue on this trench for a little while tomorrow, to get to the very bottom of the bank…

T C section with Alex

The V-shaped feature in Trench C (lighter feature on the right), with Alex on top of the dark deposits of the waterlogged channels/ponds defined by this.

Trench D has, at the very last minute, revealed the mortared in situ footings for s medieval wall, underneath the gravel path! Only a 0.5m wide strip of this has been revealed, and it’s not even enough to clarify exactly which way it’s running, but what is really important is that it shows clearly that substantial medieval building remains do survive here. Even better, they are deep enough below the surface (in the excavated area, at least), and overlain by demolition rubble, to be reasonably well-protected from surface-erosion damage, which is good news. The pottery coming off the top of this wall appears to date to the 12th century, seeming to provide a date for the construction of the building, which may have been refurbished, rather than built from scratch, in the 14th century.

Trench D wall in situ

The in situ wall in the narrow slot in Trench D, visible as a flint-cobble feature with lighter mortar either side.    The mortar at the far end may be that on which a tiled floor was laid.

Trench D w Paul supervising

Paul Blinkhorn deep in thought while supervising Trench D

A great final full day’s digging – great work by all, including all the volunteers and Alex Pryor and Paul Blinkhorn supervising – thanks to everyone.

Carenza Lewis

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