There has been lots of archaeological progress today in all three caves at Fairy Holes but Olaf and I have spent most of the day taking the project title literally. We have been trying to produce a tarpaulin shelter outside the main cave that will consistently stand up to the winds which have been howling down the Hodder valley. Obviously the main problem is that the rock wall and trees we are trying to fit it all around are inconveniently spaced at irregular intervals. The mark one shelter took us most of the morning. We were just getting the third corner nicely tightened up when a particularly lively gust got under the tarp and all the eyelets ripped out of one edge.
Fortunately we had a spare one. We re-rigged all the ropes and then spent most of the afternoon assembling the shelter number two. It is not exactly the Mound Stand at Lords but it was working when we left today. The wind is blowing at a lively pace this evening so I have no confidence that it will still be intact in the morning. However, all this effort expended had the desired effect. Despite some very threatening clouds, it never actually rained all through the working day. If we have given up in disgust after shelter one collapsed it would have been pouring down within half an hour.
Everyone else has been doing a proper job of work. In the east cave, Sam, Josh and Pete have removed all the external deposits and are now working on taking cave earth out of the first small chamber. So far all they have found is relatively modern looking animal bones.
In the main cave we have removed the looser backfill from the 1940s excavations back to the eight metre mark inside the cave. Generally this has come down on to the bedrock floor of the cave but in one or two places there are surviving traces of a yellowish clay.
This is the undisturbed original sediment and it is just where Dan is measuring on this photo. Further towards the front of the cave, about under Connie’s boots, there is an area of much more broken up limestone. We are getting ready to record this as we think it is the remains of one of the dry-stone walls across the cave that were noted by Musson. There is quite a bit of animal bone from all along this section and outside onto the platform. Ant and James have been cleaning off the deposits out here and found lots of pig bone quite deep down.
Cate and James have also made good progress with the west cave. As they get further down into the cave earth here they are getting more and more animal bone out of this one too. It is still too small to get more than one person in at a time.
We seemed to finish the day in a flurry of context sheets and photography. This means that tomorrow there are a lot of plans to draw of various sections of the caves before we do any more digging. Hopefully it will stay dry and the shelter will keep sheltering.