Fence me in

Unlike Bing Crosby, we’re very fond of fences here. Especially the big mains powered electric fence that keeps cattle and sheep separate from the archaeology. Last year we had issues with the cows at the start of the dig. So this morning, once we had started to do more than de-turf, we knew we would need to get all the posts and wire up the hill. This time they had left the big pile of half-filled grab-bags alone but all the turves from trench J had been carefully nudged back into the hole. The concerted nuzzling power of many bovine noses is clearly considerable.

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In trench H we have been removing the relatively recent hillwash deposits which cover and mask the archaeology. Unlike last year when we spent the best part of two weeks carefully trowelling through them, this time we are taking this layer off with mattocks and shovels. Thanks to lots of attentive and careful work I don’t think we have lost any information by doing this, we have had more than 70 small-finds from this hillwash layer. These have included worked chert and burnt bone fragments but also, like last year, we have fragments of crucible and metal slag, showing that some metalworking went on up on the hill at some point in the past. This looks as if it was bronze working, it is obviously later in date than the timber circle. It could be later Bronze Age, Iron Age or even medieval.

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In trench J we are also getting out the long handle to remove the hillwash deposits. Karl, who is supervising here, thinks that they have a different subsoil showing which may be the top of the main enclosure ditch, just about at the point where Josh is mattocking in this photograph. Gratifyingly, this is also just where Simon’s analysis of the resistivity and topographic survey said it would be. Once it is all clean we will be able to see for sure.

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Just after dinner we decided that we might have gone deep enough in trench H to be able to see the prehistoric archaeology. Everyone then cleaned up the surface with trowels so we could see what features showed up. The photo shows two things. One, what a beautiful job they made of the cleaning and two, no there is not much showing up yet. Looking at the records from trench D last year, only about 1 m to the south of this trench, then we will probably have to dig off another 100 mm or so of the hillwash tomorrow.

A big thank you to Daniel for bringing all the fence bits up the hill behind the bike. Wildlife of the day, horseflies.

Rick

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