Ooh – tired after a brilliant but very busy dig, so this post won’t be too long! We got a huge amount dug over just five days – well, nearer four really, given that half of Monday morning was spent opening up the trench and this afternoon was given over to backfilling. And that we managed to achieve so much is a huge credit to all the volunteers who worked so hard; learned, honed and applied such a range of archaeological skills so effectively; and made the whole dig a great pleasure.
Following up from yesterday’s discovery of a number of features which looked like a series of slots and post holes, the morning was spent sectioning these to establish which, if any, really were cut features and which just deceptive superficial smudges; what sort of feature they might be; and if possible to establish the date of at least some of them. We also had to finish off excavating the section across the pit in the centre of the trench. By the end of the morning when digging had to stop to allow time for backfilling, sections had been excavated across all these features and they had all been planned – an impressive achievement! The excavation was over…
The completed section across the pit midway up the trench. Its black fill, is clearly visible contrasting with the orange-brown natural layer it was cut into. The pit contained small amounts of chalk, pottery, animal bone and human bone from at least two individuals, one of them a child with unfused bones.
A general view of the centre of the trench showing all three in situ burials, the circular pit between the centre and left-hand burial, the fragmentary remains of a section of white chalk ‘wall’ and (in the front of the photograph) the wide prehistoric ditch which was dug across the area nearly 3,000 years before the individuals buried here were born.
The trench with all features visible after excavation ceased, looking north, showing how these relate to one another. In the foreground, a plethora of post holes are present along the south side of a shallow linear cut, possibly a ditch, while the prehistoric ditch, and the remains of the chalk ‘wall’, the three burials and the pit are visible at the further end of the trench.
This image shows the features in the southern end of the trench which appear to predate the burials with their approximate outlines highlighted to make them a little clearer to readers of this blog (NB this is NOT the definitive representation of all the planned features based on the site plans, just a sketch to make the photo more comprehensible!) .
So, as a brief, final ‘hot-off-the-trench’ upsum, the September 2013 excavations have showed not only that the cemetery did indeed continue well beyond the area explored in May 2013, but also that there is much more archaeology here besides: the burials are one part of a complex sequence of medieval activity here which included structures which appear to predate the burials, and pits which certainly post-date them. Such a rich complexity of archaeological remains was unexpected, given the results of the May 2013 excavations, and a real bonus: the archaeological potential of this site is clearly immense.
In any archaeological excavation, the actual digging is only a fraction of the total project, and the next stage of this dig will be the post-excavation analysis, during which all the evidence will be analysed in detail in order to tell us as much as it possibly can about exactly what went on here in the past. Hopefully once this is done and written up will then be able to say more about the date and sequence of the different phases of activity on the site and about the character and function of the various structures, ditches, burials and pits we’ve glimpsed fragments of over the last five days…