House of Straw

I thought I had found a Late Neolithic house this afternoon, but in the end the big bad wolf of logic blew it away. I am still working on the interim report for the digging we did over the summer. This week I have been combining the field drawings from trench H into one plan that shows as many of the features together as possible. It makes sense to show this on the same drawing as last year’s trench D, after all they are all part of the same monument.

The drawing below is the first draft of this. It shows the curved feature which contained the posts of the timber circle running in an arc through trench D and ending in the particularly deep double posthole [H19] on the southern edge of trench H. The timber circle stopped here and there was an entrance about  4 metres wide on the north-west side. You can also see the shallow scoop worn into the entrance which was later filled in by the cobbled path.

Just inside the entrance, in the north-east part of the trench, there were many layers of what looked like buried soils. The lowest of these filled another shallow depression and smaller postholes had been cut through into the base of this. There were also small spreads of charcoal in the base of this feature. Because the depression is vaguely square in plan, I spent part of the day trying to convince myself this was the floor of a Late Neolithic building, something like the ones discovered at Durrington Walls henge in Wiltshire. However, there was no hearth to go with all the charcoal and all the postholes were cut from different levels, so in the end I had to face the fact that my house would be a leap of faith too far at this stage.

NL13 Trench D and H post-exBoth the multiple layers of the thing that is not a house and the different phases of intercutting postholes we found last year in trench D are excellent evidence that the timber circle was a long-lived monument. This may partly explain why some of the archaeology was so confusing. Instead of single postholes, we have places where posts have been erected and removed many times. At least, that is my story and I am sticking to it.

Now that we have both season’s results on a single drawing it is possible to appreciate the form of the timber circle a bit more easily in plan . I got enthused by this and wondered what would happen if I made a drawing with just the features I was sure were related to the circle part of the monument. I have added the positions of major anomalies in the fluxgate gradiometer survey to this. On the basis of what we have excavated so far, these ought to mark the location of other deep postholes around the circle perimeter.

NL13 Trench D and H timber circle

This is the result. It is a bit of a lash up, I simplified the main drawing by just throwing away whole layers of data and I didn’t have time to use the GIS software to align all the measurements absolutely precisely, but I am reasonably confident that there are no major errors. It shows the form of the monument very clearly in plan, so I will now be inspired to re-draw this properly. So no house, but we finally have a record of the timber circle which makes it look like a circle.

Rick

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