There has been a bit of a wooden theme to today. We have started to record a video diary for 360 Productions who, if they like it, may end up using bits of it in the next series of Digging for Britain. Phil has been nominated cameraman and has spent a lot of the last two days filming me while I try to explain what is going on to the camera. We’ve downloaded the footage and I’ve been reviewing it tonight. I think the kindest way to describe my performance is stiff and creaky.


Fortunately I have had lots of good archaeology to discuss. This is where we are at with the enclosure ditch in the northern trench. We have split it into four quadrants, so that we will get a cross-section of the deposits both across and along the ditch, and we are digging out the fills in opposite quadrants. Nearest the camera, Chris and John have got a nice clear edge cut into the sub-soil and the upper ditch fill here is dark orange and silty. Further north, where Katie and Becky are working it is much paler. It is quite ashy in places and there is lots of charcoal here.


This is Rhianne digging in the charcoal rich layer at the very north end of the trench. She is just cleaning around what seems to be a large charred fragment of plank. Neolithic planks were made by splitting tree-trunks up into radial segments (imaging a very long thin chocolate orange) using axes as wedges.


In this photo I took just before she was ready to lift it out you can see the grain of the wood running from top left to bottom right. The fragment itself seems to be about 20 mm deep at the thickest point. We have lifted it on a plastic support (actually the lid of a sample box) and wrapped it up in foil and clingfilm to preserve the shape.

Wildlife of the day, we saw a hedgehog by the side of the road on the way home (live one ambling about rather than flat one on road).

A wood-specialist’s joke to finish with…

Q. What’s brown and sticky?

A. a stick

I didn’t say it was a good joke.


  1. From what I can see from the photo Rick it looks like the right hand end may have been worked, it looks almost like a broken off mortice. If it was in a damp hollow next to a stream I would say it could be the remains of the timber lining from a burnt mound reservoir, however that would not seem to fit here – but its fun to speculate!

    • I was thinking it might be a structural timber re-used as firewood but I also have to admit that some of that shape at the end may have been made by us as we lifted stones from around it.

  2. jennifer breen said:

    Dear Rick Peterson,

    My name is Jennifer Breen. For a few days this week I have volunteered on the Uclan dig at Ribchester. I have learnt that Uclan are also carrying out another dig at Whitewell. Would be any space for me to take part in the excavations around Mon-Wed of next week?

    Best wishes,
    Jennifer Breen.

  3. Hi Jennifer
    Yes I think that should be fine – I’ve emailed you

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