What have we learnt this week?

As it says in the weekly newsletter from my son’s school. Lots of different stuff as it happens because, now the exams are finished, we are getting on with sorting out the finds from last month’s dig at Fairy Holes Cave. We had everything properly cleaned by the end of Wednesday. Since then we have been photographing each find and creating a full catalogue of what was found where.

new crem bone web version

With all the mud washed off the bones we found that there was another piece of cremated bone from the entrance of the main cave. It is the central fragment in the bottom row on this photograph. This was found in the same grid square as the three bits we identified on site, clearly part of the same disturbed cremation burial. This is also the same square we found the big sherd of Early Bronze Age collared urn pottery in.

Now the pottery was clean it is obvious that we have found parts of two different prehistoric pots. The big sherd we still think is part of the urn that Musson and his team found in 1946. The rest of this is on display in Clitheroe Castle Museum. I will be taking our sherd to Clitheroe shortly to confirm the match but I’m sure this what it is. This fits with the cremated bone from the same square to show that there was a cremation burial in the urn close to the cave entrance in the Early Bronze Age, probably around 1800 BC.

Grooved Ware web version

The smaller sherd we found first is clearly something different. It is finer, uses a different mixture of raw materials and is decorated with parallel lines. These seem to have been incised into the surface of the clay. It is clearly prehistoric but I am still dithering about what I think it is. I have had the big pottery books open on my desk all week and been poring over the possible parallels. I’m supposed to know about pottery so I can’t help regarding this as a bit of a challenge.

The general shape of the sherd, and therefore the bit of pot that it came from, makes me think it is part of a beaker. This was also my initial identification on site when it was first found. This would mean it ought to date from between 2200 and 2000 BC. However, the colour of the pot and the incised line decoration looks more like Grooved Ware, which would be slightly earlier, somewhere between 2900 and 2200 BC. Either way it is earlier than the Early Bronze Age evidence from Musson’s dig and from our excavations on top of the hill last summer.

mobile phone web version

Of course not everything we found is quite this old. One of my favourite photos from this week is this one of the finds from the area of burning at the top of the main cave sequence. As well as lots of bottle glass and candle ends you can see all the non-plastic parts of a mobile phone. The consensus among the team is that it was a Nokia. I assume that it was destroyed in the fire for all the plastic to have vanished so thoroughly.

Thanks to Megan, Barry, Dan, Emily, Kelly, Nikki and Rob for all their hard work with the records and finds this week.

Rick

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