Gaps are good

John was smug this morning. They have managed to beat the weather all ends up and get both the mowing done and the sheep sheared in the gaps over the weekend when it was pretending to be summer. This did involve them getting up at 4.30 this morning to get the last of the sheep inside before the rain started. We did not get up at 4.30, even the little one sleeps later than that, and consequently the weather beat us.

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The plan for today was to remove the last of the hillwash which obscures the Neolithic features. Chris, George and Phil are hard at it in the south trench here. George is probably looking at another piece of Langdale Tuff, he found a little cluster of about six flakes just where his mattock head is.

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In the north trench all of the hillwash is now gone, so the next job was to clean up the surface of the subsoil and look for the differences of soil colour and texture that mark the fill of the enclosure ditch. This is actually much easier to do on a wet day, dry soil tends to all go the same indistinguishable grey/brown colour. There is much less hillwash in this part of the site than where we were digging last year and less depth of subsoil too. You can see the limestone bedrock outcropping in the near corner of the trench. The ditch fill is the marginally darker material behind and to the left of that.

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It is ever so slightly clearer in this shot taken oven Scott’s shoulder. The ditch runs across the farthest part of the trench from left to right. Excitingly it seems to end in a curved terminal between the bedrock and the large stones to the bottom right. This shows that the ditch has gaps in it. The reason we are excited about this is because one of the characteristics of a causewayed enclosure is that the ditches have breaks or causeways every so often (there is a clue in the name, you see). When digging a causewayed enclosure it is good to have a causeway in your trench.

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We did manage to get some record shots of this and then Scott sprayed the edges we could see with line-marking paint in the vain hope that it would all dry out to the point where we can’t see it. The next job is to plan it. However, by this point the cleaning of the south trench had ground to a halt. It is hard to make a good job of cleaning a surface when it is completely underwater. We all came down the hill to get in Rob’s way and untidy his office while we waited for it to stop raining. At this point, Phil has obviously just found out that one of the leaks in the barn roof is directly above the back of his neck. It didn’t stop and eventually we gave it up as a bad job and came home.

Rick

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