Budget Flying

There are often times when taking archaeological photographs when you want an elevated view. Portable scaffold towers used to be very common on excavations when I started out. These would allow the director to spend many hours perched in the clouds, supervising from a position of God-like eminence, while the minions scraped away at the surface beneath. Scaffold towers fell from favour because they are time-consuming to build and easy to pinch. The fashionable way to achieve a vertical view nowadays is to use a drone, although sadly this only lifts the camera and not the director too.

We don’t have a drone but we do have a 5 metre level staff. Two years ago we experimented with suspending a digital SLR from the top of this to take overhead views but we had real problems with the camera swinging too much. This year we have gone back to a similar system but with the camera fixed rigidly to the top of the pole instead. We used this yesterday to take record shots of the new south-east trench after all the topsoil had been removed.

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As well as giving a nice aerial view of the south end of the site this also shows the area of limestone pavement toward the top of the hill. Alex was up on site on Tuesday and he was suggesting that this would have been exposed in prehistory and, given the amount of small flakes of chert we were finding in the bottom right corner, that the limestone was being used as a working surface, even possibly as an anvil.

Despite the miserable drizzle, by the end of today we had most of the hillwash removed in the west side of this trench too and it looks as if the enclosure ditch does continue through the far side of the trench.

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In the south trench Chelsea and Debbie have exposed most of the base of what is looking more like a pit once again. All the base and sides are now showing the same yellowish clay, which seems to be the colour of the undisturbed sub-soil in this area. As you can see there are lots of indentations in the base of the pit. We think these are tool-marks from the digging sticks used to dig this pit in the Neolithic.

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Phil and Rhianne have been doing a similar job with the large ditch segment in the northern trench. There was a re-cut here yesterday, which has been recorded and Phil has dug it away, along with all the remaining primary fill from this part of the ditch segment. Once again he has come down onto undisturbed yellowish clay over both the base and sides of the ditch. Tomorrow he will need to photograph and record this newly exposed cut. Repetitive tasks, we love them.

Rick

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