Today was supposed to be the last day that any actual archaeology took place on site this year. Thomas is coming with the tractor and fork-lift spikes tomorrow to start moving the grab bags full of soil back into the trenches. That will then leave us Friday to get the turf back on and everything tidied up. However…
By the end of Tuesday in trench K they had cleaned up the surface of the possible feature. At this stage we thought it was probably a large pit. It is showing in the photo as the slightly darker soil nearest the camera with the large stones in.
Where there is one pit, and lots of worked stone, then there could easily be more in the surrounding area. There are lots of ways we can check this but one of the quickest is to use the Gradiometer to look at variations in the natural magnetism of the soil. We have set out four 30 x 30 m survey grids here and Mike has covered three of them. The last one has the spoil heap and turves in it so we will have to do that one after we have backfilled this trench tomorrow.
By the end of today we had a new theory about this feature. We have decided that it is a former stream-bed. This is not because it filled up with water, everything filled up with water at about 3.30 today, but because of the shape of the different layers of sand, gravel and clay within the fill. This may mean that, in the past, water sources were even nearer to the possible camp than the spring which is about 200 metres away today.
The hope was to have excavated, planned and photographed this feature by the end of today and, given everything, we are not far off. There is just one photograph to take and a section to draw.
In trench L we were likewise well on target to finish today until mid afternoon. All four faces of the trench had been drawn and a plan completed. I then took this photo of the west-facing section before we started hacking holes in it for soil samples. We intend to photograph the other three sections once the shoring has been removed, but no one is going down an unsecured hole in the this weather to take soil samples. We are taking four 0.5 m long column samples all the way down this section so that we can look at the changing fossil pollen right through the sequence. We got two of them out before the rain got so bad that we had to abandon site for the day. So, on trench L, we have two more samples and three more photos to take.
The last feature on trench H should have been the large hollow just inside the entrance to the timber circle. When we cleaned this on Monday we found small postholes dug into the top of it all over the place – everyone in the photo is digging one of them each. It took until this morning to completely excavate and record them all. Once they were gone Olaf and Pete took a mattock to the lower fill of the big hollow and then everyone cleaned up the base for a photograph. We probably would have got this one taken except I had left the ranging rods we use as photo scales over on trench L and by the time I brought them back there were more puddles than surface.
All these small-scale and repeated features just inside the entrance to the circle are very exciting. There are lots of phases here of people setting up temporary structures inside the circle – using the site in the way that helped make it a memorable and holy place.
Wildlife of the day was a very calm looking Sika deer standing in the middle of the road on the way home.