Clare Dig 2 – Day 4

Today has been a remarkably busy day with increasing numbers of visitors as news of our discoveries has spread, plus an interview on BBC Radio Suffolk, plus as it’s our last full day digging, we have had to make the most of the time without, of course, compromising the archaeology.

Day 4 20130912-00842
As cleaning of the first skeleton continues (left of image), the headless skeleton in the centre of the trench is photographed and planned

Day 4 20130912-00835
The headless skeleton with the suspected pit on its left visible as a circular dark patch on the right side of this image

Once the headless skeleton had been planned, it was possible to begin excavating the suspected pit immediately to its left. If it is a rubbish pit, it may contain pottery which will help us date it and the features it cuts. As these include the skeleton, it will help us date this, and we also wonder if we may find its disarticulated head in the pit…

By the afternoon the first skeleton was cleaned ready for photographing and planning. Careful examination showed it to be an elderly male who had lost most of his teeth over the course of his long life and had arthritis in the lower spine. He was buried with considerable care, with a ‘pillow stone’ supporting his head, a fairly unusual find in a medieval grave.

Day 4 20130912-00836
The lower vertebrae of skeleton 1, with frilling around the edges the result of arthritis which would have been painful and disabling

Day 4 20130912-00837
The mandible (lower jaw) of skeleton 1, which lost all but 8 front teeth during life: the bone of the back of the jaw remodelled while this person was still alive to fill and smooth over the sockets after the teeth had come out.

By the end of the day, good progress was being made excavating the pit, while at the southern end of the trench excavation had removed the flint nodules and linear chalk spreads suspected to be the tumbled remains of a wall or possibly the fragementary remains of a floor in order to see what features might survive below, as there was little coherent form to the upper deposits. Careful trowelling then revealed a number of cut features, including several which look like post holes and two possible beam slots. The top priority tomorrow morning will be to section these and to see if we can date them.

Day 4 20130912-00846
Abbie and Aldous clean the southern end of the trench, where several cut features are apparent, with 4 post holes and two beam slots provisionally identified as darker patches showing against a lighter natural.

Day 4 post holes highlighted
The features tentatively identifed at the south end of trench 3 outlined in white. The fourth post hole, already excavated, is protected under the blue plastic on the far side of the trench.

Tomorrow will be a race against time to see how much we can find out about the contents of the pit beside the headless skeleton,  and the newly discovered features in the south of the trench, before we have to start backfilling…

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