We arrived at the site in good time, despite the bank holiday traffic that was beginning to build up as we left York. When we arrived, we dived straight in, collected our tools and made our way over to trench ‘AE’. The first job of the day was to straighten up the edges of the trench, so that they were vertical all the way along. After a few minutes of attempting this with a small spade and trowel, the mattocks were brought out, along with the big spades. This quickened our pace, and by the first break the edges were looking pretty damn good. J
During the first tea break Alan Hall came to talk to us about environmental analysis, giving us an idea of what samples would be needed for the analysis work in a few weeks time. Burnt cereal grains and pollen were mentioned, as well as a discussion about the potential finds that would allow for the site to be dated. Following this we trowelled the trench, with a few pieces of flint and calcite being found. The wind was quite strong today and the world’s smallest piece of flint got blown away before it had time to be bagged L. The terrain for trench ‘AE’ was more sandy and crumbly than that of trench ‘AD’, as well as this there appeared to be more worms present in this trench. The softness of the ground made it difficult to trowel without pulling stones off the bedrock and we had to keep comparing it to untrowelled areas to see if we were making a difference (as can be seen in the photograph). However the trowelling was eventually completed (despite the fact that it did not look as neat as it had in trench ‘AD’) and after the second tea break we were able to begin sweeping the trench. This showed up the bottom of the trench quite clearly, but we did end up filling a few buckets with the loose topsoil that had been difficult to remove with the trowel. Every so often during the trowelling and sweeping of trench ‘AE’ the dust was swirled up by the wind making it difficult to see, but it also moved some of the dust from the area for us.
Once the sweeping was done, the next stages of the excavation were discussed and then we were able to go and look at trench ‘AD’ from the spoil tip. The features were really clear, and allowed us to visualise what we had been told about the site in a much clearer way. Finally, before we left we got to look at trench ‘AB’ and see what group K had been up too. A ditch had been dug and the distinctions between the different layers of soil type were very clear and helped us to envision what we would be looking for in the next couple of days.
Day 3: Group L
Boltby scar excavation summer 2011 Day three – injuries zero, portaloos good!
A weekend of work and play behind them, our eager undergraduates, with a spring in their step, journeyed once more unto the breach (or site, but I suppose that is a matter of perspective!). Sun in the sky and a spring in their steps they were once again greeted by the boundless enthusiasm of professor DP, who announced… yet another day of cleaning! Never ones to be distressed by such a task, and now dab hands at trowelling and sweeping, the willing crowd sourced the necessary apparatus and headed this time to trench AE. In a trice the edging was done and tea-break announced, along with a very special guest- Dr Alan Hall, who mesmerised the party with tales of environmental archaeology (an informative and enlightening affair!). With the academic thirst sated and work to be done, trench AE was once more descended upon with a previously unparalleled resolve “We WILL have this finished today” they called out, and have it finished they did! A break for lunch and a second for tea, and every sci-fi theme tune (plus a little Gina G for good measure) later and another pristine trench was ready for inspection! “Wonderful!” Professor DP announced as he marvelled at the product of their endeavour “but now for the interesting bits!”. As they walked between trenches and scrambled atop earthen viewing platforms Professor DP painted a picture of the shape of things to come, and a pretty picture it was! By the time our young comrades meandered back to their chariot all was clear… but I shan’t share just yet… it may spoil the story!
Fun on the fort- a students eye view: Brought to you today by Kath Murphy
The weather was again very favourable and as a motivated member of our team
I was pleased to trowel and find two delightful flints. Dominic was his usual funny and informative self and very grateful to us all for our consistent effort. The site is becoming “ours” as we happily move from one part to another. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and pastures new! Kath