Today was a day of steady progress on the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘Managing a Masterpiece’ excavations on the suspected site of Goldingham Manor. The digging was graced, late in the morning, with an unexpected – and mystifying – discovery!
The geophysical survey of the area under excavation at Goldingham with the position of the three trenches marked – The readings look intriguing, but you never really know what you’ll find until you dig!
Some gentle cleaning of the tweezers found in Trench A yesterday showed they had been decorated with a double row of punched squares down the outer side of the arms – it’s an unusual, expensive item anyway, which would have been shiny gold colour when new, which had clearly been embellished to make it even more special. Close-up photography also shows where the second arm has been broken off at the point where the two halves were held together with a small collar, enabling them to be closed when not in use. But, of course, they’d be useless once one arm had broken, and so were obviously thrown away, explaining why they have ended up in Trench A, which is in an area which looks very much like a working zone with rubbish strewn around it – not the site of the manor house itself, as far as we can tell at the moment (although probably not far from it…)
During the morning’s tea break volunteer Ellie shows the children how the chalk spindle whorl found yesterday would have worked, using a wooden whorl to hold the spun wool taught, rather than the chalk one we found.
In Trench C, a day’s hard digging has shown what we initially thought from the geophysics to be a pair of parallel ditches to be more complex than this, with several non-linear features which may be pits or smaller gullies. One fragment of pottery from one of these features looks supiciously Roman, although the rest looks medieval, including a very large rim sherd, so we may have features of more than one historic phase here, although it’s alternatively possible that the Roman sherd is residual (ie an older object incorporated at a later date into a later feature).
In Trench B, the feature we thought might be a ditch is behaving more predictably and does indeed look like a very large ditch. The dark brown fill is very solidly compacted, and the team had had a hard day digging through it, although by the end of the day they were a good 1/2 metre down. They may only have another metre or so to go!
Land-owner Ashley Cooper lands a hand with mattocking the fill of the large ditch in Trench B – the difference between the dark brown ditch fill (under Ashley’s wellies) and the orange-brown sandy clay it ‘s cutting into (below the mattock head) is quite clear.
Trench A continued to produce great archaeology, with excavation of one of the ovens suggesting there had actually been two of these built one of top of the other – the second replacing the first after it had fallen to pieces.
Peter and Peter excavating the double oven, with the light red semi-circle of the later one visible in the unexcavated area (right-hand side) and the black deposit (centre) being full of ash and charcoal from the earlier, smaller oven, surrounded by another red circle of heated clay from the earlier oven lining.
Trench A also produced the biggest surprise of the day – an entire pig skeleton (or possibly a wild boar). This is really rather puzzling. It is completely articulated, and was clearly buried as a whole animal, and its limbs are tidily arranged – it ceratinly wasn’t just thrown in a rubbish pit. Pig is of course an animal which would normally have been eaten, but this one certainly wasn’t, as it’s all still in one piece. It’s a really unusual find, and we’re still puzzled why it is buried as it is. The most likely explanation is that is was diseased and so considered unfit for eating, as it’s unlikely there would have been any sentimental attachment to it which would have prevented it being eaten, even if it was a wild boar hunting trophy. Maybe we will find something else which will help explain it!