Spring and the start of the digging season seem to have coincided. At the end of last week we were up on New Laund Hill doing various surveys in the middle of a howling Pleistocene tundra. Today was the first day of the two week dig we are doing on Fairy Holes cave. The sun shone, birds twittered, Bambi and Thumper frolicked in the woods and we walked up the track to the caves with our mattocks and shovels like the 25 dwarves.
Long may it last. The forecast for Wednesday and Thursday isn’t great so we need to get the dig moving while the sun is with us. We are re-digging the area of the main cave entrance that was dug in 1946 by Reginald Musson. We have put in a longitudinal section line and are excavating the deposits to the west of the line through the cave entrance and on to the platform outside. This is the area where Musson found Bronze Age pottery and also the dry stone walling across the cave. So far everything we have found is a bit more recent than that. In particular, you can see the blackened remains of many camp fires in the sediments just in front of Emily. This shot also gives you a good idea of how cramped we are for room on site. Neither the cave or the platform outside are very big and we need to find room for not only us and all our equipment but also all the sieved soil we are removing from the caves. While everyone is digging it is fine but as soon as one person gets up to move a bucket or go and sieve then everyone is inching around each other again.
To the west of the main cave is a very small fissure filled with what seems to be undisturbed cave earth. There is only room for one person and a light in this west cave at once. Cate and Jim are watching the back of James’s feet as he hacks away at the deposits here.
To the east of the main cave is another small cave. This one is much more accessible, Josh has been quite a long way down it already. Here we have set up another 1 metre wide trench that runs across the platform and down into the cave mouth. Again, this seems not to have been excavated before.
While we were all having fun in the woods, Simon has had a few hardy souls working with him on more resistivity survey on the New Laund Enclosure. They got three 30 x 30 metre grids surveyed today. If we can get something similar done tomorrow I should have some nice images of the survey results to post on Wednesday or Thursday.
Wildlife of the day – a heron flew across in front of my minibus on the way up to work this morning.