The un-dug….

The un-dug have dug… 

The forecast was bleak for my maiden dig with the torrential rain of the last couple of days which left parts of York flooded. This morning however started (well for me at least) with the song of birds and a blue sky. Not completely (completely not!) trusting the British weather I still piled on the layers, included all the waterproofs and set off for the coaches. Feeling like a young kid going on a school trip, the bus ride was way too long; the walk to the site seemed even longer! The wait was fulfilled when the first trench came into sight, although I do have to say, it seemed bigger in the pictures! Upon arrival all the first year students were greeted by the rest of the excavation team and names were mentioned (which I have long since forgotten, sorry). An introduction talk was given by Dominic, with the group walking over the site like a flock of sheep, don’t get me wrong, everybody took care not to fall or step in something we shouldn’t or even worse damage the trench edges, which caused this flock like effect. After the initial introduction we finally started doing something (!). While putting away my bags I overheard someone (John) indicate that he needed three volunteers in the burrow and immediately sacrificed myself for the job, which I absolutely do not regret. I will spare you the boring details of having to clean the surroundings of the trench and get to the more interesting part, the straightening of the sections! Although it can still sound boring, for a meticulous person like me it is big fun, making sure that the edges of the trench go down straight. It also wasn’t long before I noticed something in the soil I was working with, my first find; a nice looking piece of flint. Of course silly me, I didn’t have my camera in one of the many pockets available in my ‘excavation’ pants, and do not have a record of my find! 
It was not long ever this that Jeff also found something in the section, a nice piece of pottery! Since this is more exciting than a piece of flint, Gigi (I hope I spell this right) was informed and not long after James came to record the 3D location of the piece, as it looked like it could be a piece of a Bronze Age pot, of which more remains in the soil at the moment, which will stay there until a later date when it can be properly excavated and recorded. The rest of the day we all troweled away on the straightening the edges of the trench, unfortunately no more finds were made. This does not mean that we did not have any fun; we were frequently visited by members of the team, who told us highly entertaining (and educational) stories and past experiences. Also I discovered I do not like compressed turf, it apparently becomes as tight as concrete and is… well… let’s say very hard, to keep it all in a civilised manner, to remove this from the soil… all will be continued tomorrow, when my journey from un-dug to dug continues… I can’t wait!! (weather forecast checked, bag packed… I am ready!)

The road to becoming a ‘dug’ – Day One- Group J

The day began with rather a lot of hill fog and a long trek up to the site. However after an introduction from Dominic, the sun began to break through the clouds. We were then faced with the prospect of opening up a trench on the ‘other side’ of the wall. This side has not been subjected to ploughing which means that the archaeology has been left relatively undisturbed. Our first task was to cut the turf off the top using shovels, turf cutters and mattocks. What seemed like a daunting task was completed pretty quickly despite the surprise appearance of a couple of toads and one broken turf cutter.

 Next we had to clean our trench, a job which meant dealing with several stubborn roots. After a full day of de-turfing and cleaning, we left slightly sunburnt and stiff but ready for the days to come…

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