The archaeology of archaeology

Fieldwork finished nearly a week ago but we haven’t made a great deal of progress on the post-excavation work yet. Partly this is because when Sam and I got back into the University last Friday it was both late and pouring with rain. As always happens in these situations, rather than carefully putting everything away we piled everything up around my desk and left it for the weekend. This means that I have to excavate my office before I can get stuff done.

I also realised that between the dig and a bit of leave over Easter that I only spent six days of April actually in the office. This is not the best way to keep on top of your email. Still, while I have been catching up, other people have been making progress.

crem bone

Sam has been looking at all the cremated bone, both from last summer’s excavations on the New Laund Enclosure and the pieces from Fairy Holes cave we found the week before last. She has written a short osteological report (it’s all very fragmented stuff). The bone from the enclosure site was all cremated at a very high temperature. It all seems to be adult remains and because the cremation technique is the same for all the bone Sam thinks that this is a single burial that has been disturbed. It was found over quite a wide area of the timber circle in the middle of the enclosure. This is probably because the  burial was originally at the base of one of the posts and was disturbed when that post was pulled out.

The Fairy Holes bone wasn’t cremated to quite such a high temperature. This bone includes both adult and juvenile bones, showing that there was more than one person buried in the cave. As both excavations have only found a single collared urn it is quite likely that this urn originally contained a double burial of an adult and a child.


I have managed, in amongst tidying up, to download the survey data from the total station. I haven’t processed it all yet, but one interesting result is the outline of the main Fairy Holes cave. The red spots are the cave wall positions measured during my long surveying trip into the cave (see the Tunnel of Mud post). The shape revealed is surprisingly straight. It felt a lot more twisty than that when we were working in it. I’ve pasted it over Musson’s sketch plan for comparison. As you can see they exaggerated the angles of the bends too.

Tomorrow, I will be going over all this in a lot more detail at the Lancashire Archaeology Day jointly run by UCLan and Lancashire County Council. I am just the first speaker on what looks like a fascinating day. Full details are listed on the web link under events.



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