Group J – 10 May 2012

After Tuesday’s development in our trench, we were looking forward to discover what may lie under the previously excavated soil.  Our surprise wasn’t small on Thursday morning when we arrived at Boltby Scar to be informed by Prof Powlesland that the entire sight had been flooded by rainfall during Wednesday and Thursday night, making excavation for the today and tomorrow unfeasible.

Thanks to some quick thinking of the supervisors it was decided that all groups were to be deposited at the North York Moors National Park Centre.  There each Group took turns in being instructed in four “Skill areas”.

The first one was the explanation of drawing plans and sections of sites according to drawing conventions. By knowing how to signify elevation, depth, changes in stratigraphy and not least the north – south positioning of a ditch or trench, we can avoid the unnecessary aggravation of having to throw away the drawing because the position of the trench in the drawing can’t be determined.

The second one was how to accurately describe the colour, texture, density and other properties of the soil, for the archaeological record. This is important in gathering data and being able, as in first “discipline” to avoid confusion for later evaluation. The evaluation might first take place weeks or months after the excavation, when the people who noted it up have long forgotten about it.

The third one was, being instructed in not only recognising Neolithic flint but also what kind of pottery to look for. We got to see a select range of Neolithic axe heads, flint tools, a jet bead and a piece of Neolithic pottery.

The last one was the finer points of using a Leica TPS1200 total station for archaeological surveying.

This useful and expensive piece of equipment helps us determining the position of finds through GPS. Finds can thus be plotted in the computer to gain a more complete picture of the distribution of finds. Which might give us a clue of what had happened on Boltby during prehistoric times?

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