The first day’s of our last ‘Managing a Masterpiece’ dig – at Goldingham Hall – started on a high note as so many entriguing features were visible in the trenches. Hard work this moprning by about 25 volunteers soon cleaned across the trenches so the features could be seen more clearly.
The volunteers were soon joined by a class of 17 boys from Bulmer Primary School, who had energetically walked all the way from school to the site and soon set to work helping with digging, sieving and moving spoil, finding pieces of pottery, bone and stone.
By the end of the morning two circular clay features, probably cooking ovens, a large spread of very dark soil with lots of bone and pottery and several cut features which may be ditches or pits had been identifed in trench A.
One of my favourite finds of the day – a fragment of fired clay oven lining, with impressions of a fine woven cloth clearly visible across it – this cloth would have been used to cover the wet clay when the oven was first built, to prevent the it cracking as it dried. Mediaval textiles, being organic, hardly ever survive, and so this is a rare and important find.
Elsewhere, three linear features – possibly ditches – were visible in Trenches B and C. The site has been a triumph for the geophysical survey, with the excavated features closely matching the geophys plan!
The top of a possible ditch in Trench B is visible in the foreground as a 2m wide darker brown band across the trench.
By the end of the day the weather had turned, and although we were spared the worst of the forecast rain, we certainly had enough to notice! Spirits were undampened, however, and by the end of the day we had made fantastic progress, with some of features in Trench C looking like as if they be from buildings rather than ditches, and some great finds from Trench A.
The team resort to waterproofs to keep digging through the afternoon! A second clay oven is visible as a light circular patch in the foreground, with dark black refuse deposits spread across the trench behind it.
Particularly nice finds were a set of bronze tweezers and a spidle whorl. Spinning was a a female occupation, widely carried out by women and girls of all ranks, and suggests we are near the site of a domestic household. The tweezers are less common, and would have come from a wealthy, probably high-status, household.
Some of the finds from Trench A, which included dark grey medieval sandy ware potsherds dating to c. 1100-1400 AD (top left) with one sherd decorated with a band of darker red slip (centre of photo) and a chalk spindle whorl (centre left, white object with a hole through it). Bones, teeth and shell from sheep, cattle and oysters provide evidence of the sort of food consumed.