The third day’s digging at Goldingham finally rewarded the (girl-powered!) team on Trench B, as after another hard morning, they reached a very different deposit to the rock-hard layers the upper fills of the ditch comprised. The bottom of the ditch is filled with loose, soft, very dark soil rich in ash and charcoal, with a lot of heat-reddened clay as well – and lots of medieval pottery. It looks as if the ditch was in existence at the same time as the ovens in nearby Trench A, as not only is the pottery very similar but the ditch fill material is so very similar to the deposits spread across Trench A. Interestingly, the bottom of the ditch in Trench B contains several very different fills, so it looks as if it was filled up with dumps of anything that needed to be got out of the way – a heap of ash from the bottom of an oven here, a load of cinders there. After the oven area went out of use, the ditch in Trench B appears to have filled up gradually with clayey soil with lots of chalk. This is interesting, as the natural in the trenches doesn’t have much chalk in it at all, although there are sources of it nearby. It maybe that the fields around the ditch were being marled with chalk, with the chalky soil gradually silting into the ditch as it was on longer cleaned out.
The section of Trench B, showing the dark fills at the bottom of the ditch. Note the difference between the grey ashy fill Jane is trowelling, and the much darker fill full of charcoal and burnt clay to the right – different dumps of material in teh same ditch, probably at pretty much the same time
An industrious hour’s planning of features in Trench C preceded more excavation here, where the archaeological features look very different. There’s no trace of the dark deposits in Trenches A and B, and it may be that some or all of the features here were in use at a different time, possible a lot earlier – it certainly looks as if there are a couple of sherds of Roman pottery here. Alternatively, the features here may simply have belonged to a very different part of the medieval site, perhaps, being closer to (the presumed site of) the manor house, this area was then kept a lot cleaner and tidier! More work is still needed to see if we can make a bit more sense of what ‘these features’ actually are…
Volunteer Sally plans in Trench C while Will gets on with digging one of the cut features, visible as a chalky grey-brown deposit contrasting with the more orange-brown surrouding natural. (Why don’t we have more words for ‘brown’?)
The other end of Trench C (nearest to Trench B) this morning, where there are at least three different features cutting into the orange natural – and, in places, cutting into each other…
Trench A was a hive of industry with intensive work being carried out on six features, each quite distinct from the others, even though they are all close together within the same trench. ‘Team Pig’ had a great day cleaning carefully around the bones – the fill here has so far produced no pottery, and it’s also completely free of any of the burnt deposits which are so widespread here. For that reason, we are thinking that the pig may pre-date the medieval period, perhaps by quite a long time. Adding weight to that possibility is a fragment of distinctly Roman-looking roof tile which came from one of the ditches in Trench A today – so perhaps we have a porcus here rather than a pig! But we hope to learn more tomorrow when we lift the bones and see how the feature it is buried in relates to the burnt medieval ones.
A section across another of the ovens shows how the black layer of ash, cinders and charcoal from its last use was covered by light brown clay (probably from the oven’s walls as much of it, especially immediately above the black, is a reddish colour, showing it’s been heated), after it went out of use
Elsewhere again, at least one of the ditches has proved to be filled with the same chalk-rich soil as the upper fill of the ditch in trench B, so maybe of the same date (medieval) – and possibly part of the same feature. Two of the other ditch sections may be of different dates, as the fill looks different – more Roman features, perhaps?
All in all, there are still a lot of questions, although these questions are at least now more specific that at the beginning of the dig, when we were really simply wondering “what’s here?”. We hope the final day’s digging tomorrow will be able to answer at least some of these questions!