Breakfast of Champions

We had a site visit this morning from class 3 at Chatburn Primary School. We had them do some digging in the new trench, where they turned up quite a lot of nice worked chert, and I spent most of the morning showing them round and having an extended discussion about which breakfast foods could be replicated using only crops known in the Early Neolithic (Weetabix probably, Rice Krispies Multigrain Shapes less plausible, but we decided we could have a stab at waffles with jam if we could find a wild source for the egg – possibly duck). While I was debating the Neolithic breakfast, Katie, Sammy and Phil were getting farther on with defining the re-cut in the ditch they found on Saturday.

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Here is the record photo they took of it from the north, which also nicely shows the line of the whole ditch in this trench. As I said on Saturday the reason we are so excited about the re-cut is it provides the first hard evidence from this site for the regular, probably seasonal, re-use of the causewayed enclosure. Re-cuts and multiple ditch lines are common at other causewayed enclosures in the south. They are the archaeological evidence that lie behind the story I keep telling about these sites as seasonal gathering places (for a more literate take on all this have a look at Mark Edmonds’ excellent Ancestral Geographies of the Neolithic – which is on the reading list under ‘Prehistoric Enclosures’).

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Meanwhile, in the bottom corner of the same north trench all the drizzly rain has made another feature visible. You can see the very pale ashy fill and lots of rocks, some of which look burnt, in the area which has just been expertly cleaned by John. He and Scott found both worked chert and charcoal in this as they were cleaning it up to record it. It seems to be the top of either another large pit or yet another segment of enclosure ditch. In a way the difference between the two is not really important. This part of the enclosure seems to have been marked out, each time the enclosure was used, by people digging pits and ditches. Into these holes went waste flakes, ash and charcoal and (presumably) food waste which doesn’t now survive. So, the debris from each gathering was used to re-mark the site on the hill ready for the next time.

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In the new south-east cutting Jack, George and Alex have been defining the edge of yet another ditch segment. This one has been cut through the outcropping limestone bedrock and so is visible from a bit higher up in the sediment sequence. They are also finding a lot of worked chert and flint along the line of the edge of the ditch. Chris and Danny spent almost the whole day measuring in finds in this one trench.

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Following on from Saturday’s discovery that more bone was now visible at Mouse Hole Cave, Debbie and Rhianne were volunteered to spend an afternoon alone with all the nettles in Lancashire recording and removing it. They took out all the bone and surrounding sediment in sample buckets. It has all gone down to Rob to be sieved so we can be sure we don’t miss any small mammals, bone preservation is so rare on these sites that we don’t want to waste a chance to recover even a mouse.

I saw two hares around at Mouse Hole, the first ones I have seen this year, to be wildlife of the day.

Rick

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