The path to enlightenment

Appears to be..  ..a path. Or at least a linear spread of cobbles (as I feel sure we will describe it on a context sheet). An explanation of what on earth I am talking about will follow in a minute, but, as I didn’t blog last night I have a bit of catching up to do.

By Tuesday morning we had completed what felt like the twenty-seventh clean of the top of the subsoil in trench H and we were ready to photograph the features we could see.

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Mike combining his two hobbies of fishing and photography to great effect and using the level staff as an impromptu boom to take high level shots of trench H. With the camera on self-timer mode and taking multiple shots, so we could select the best ones, this is remarkable effective.

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It gives you shots like this (after a bit of photoshoppery). Here you can clearly see the most obvious feature in the trench. This is the large dark brown splodge running from beneath the ranging poles to the near right hand section. Less clear, except to the eye of faith, are the large circular postholes in the front left and right of the image.

This morning, after I had fussed around checking the drawings were right, we started to dig these features. Keep your eye on the large brown spoldge (this is the technical term), it is going to be important…

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Meanwhile, on trench J, they were also recording. We have reached a point here where we think we can see the fill of the main enclosure ditch as it runs around the hill. The trench has been photographed at this point and Dan and James are drawing plans while Karl writes the context sheets and Dave wonders where he put the rubber.

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In trench K, the area of the Mesolithic chert scatter, we have found both worked chert and worked flint over the last two days. The upper layer of sub-soil here is changing colour as we go deeper and becoming more clayey but there are still no obvious features to go with the large amounts of worked stone we are finding.

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Today we have also started the last of our four trenches we will be digging this year. This is trench L. It is the smallest in area, a 2 x 2 metre cutting into the centre of a doline (vertical sinkhole into the limestone) on the west side of New Laund Hill. There are two reasons for digging this feature. One is that as holes in the ground, dolines trap a lot of the stuff in the surrounding environment. Therefore both animal bone and fossil pollen should be well-preserved in this trench. The other is a bit more speculative. This seems to have been a tradition in the Early Bronze Age of burying people in dolines. While we are here we may as well have a look. I found the wildlife of the day here while I was helping clear the site. In amongst the nettles and boulders at the top of the doline was a very grumpy field mouse which I nearly hit with my mattock.

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Now, back to that brown splodge in trench H. This is what it looked like this afternoon after the top layer of soil had been removed. Instead of the ditch we were expecting to find, there was a long spread of closely packed cobbles and gravel running from the outside of the timber setting towards its centre. Speculating wildly, we think that this surface is the entrance to the inner sanctum of the enclosure. We are imaging a route into the timber circle that had become so worn through the repeated tread of feet that it had to be surfaced with these cobbles. I have seen something similar in monuments of this date before, admittedly on a much larger scale. The enormous henge at Durrington Walls near Stonehenge had a vast cobbled road leading out of it. Ours is more of a path, but we are still very excited by it.

Rick

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3 comments
  1. Nice. Just a few remarks on the camera up there: In my experience and from what I’ve read elsewhere, holding the pole at an angle makes it quite difficult to handle and tremendously increases the risk of breakage. Having the camera dangle from the top makes good shots a matter of luck, not of intention. I always have the camera fixed to the top of the pole (always held vertically after walking up the pole from the camera end), pointing downwards at an angle as steep as possible without getting the pole or myself into the image. In combination with an interval timer this makes it easy to take good pictures, and from a set of several pictures I can create an orthophoto using strutcture-from-motion software.

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