Glad You’re Here

This is the last post from this year for the actual excavations, but I shall add bits to the blog as the finds get processed, and any other relevant facts or deductions that may come to light over the coming weeks and months.

On Saturday, I suggested that a light sprinkling of rain might help the foundations look good for the Open Day. Um. I must apologise to the Mayor and anyone who came along for tours before 11 O’clock, because that is what we had. Thanks to everyone who came, about 130 visitors joining a tour, plus others who popped in for minor questions, or just were passing through. I’m glad the volunteers joined the tours, as well as helping by talking to the public too (there are no secrets on our dig), especially Trevor, Colin and Liz, who were digging, Christine, recording, Debbie and young Jake on the finds table, and Charlie with tours, and Jill generally, and Alex for her tasty cakes.

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The rain stopped when we got to the deep trench

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And some sunshine amongst the finds.

In our trench in the field, we intend to return next year, for a much larger area, to find out what the building foundations belong to. just near the end of the day on Sunday, the remains were cleaned up very expertly, and we started finding some collapsed brickwork, as well as flint and chalk foundations. Our volunteers found some lumps that look a bit like Blacksmith’s waste, but with a bit of detailed cleaning, the remains look excellent.

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It’s All Gone Medieval…Again

Today, Saturday, the last full day of excavation before the Open Day tomorrow, and we have just a few things left to finish excavating while the public come, from 10 until 4.

Two of our trenches are finished, those with brick remains of the servants areas of Eastcote House. Risking bad weather, a small drop of rain would freshen up the remains remarkably, but at the moment it is dry, and I would rather it stayed that way.

Our trench with the big medieval ditch (or is it a moat) is almost finished. We reached the base of the ditch, and it seems to be 1.1m deep and probably 4m wide, although the far side is outside our dig area. We have lots of pottery of 13th-16th century date, which will be on show tomorrow. The pottery is glazed red, green and yellow, which would have looked good on our medieval occupants’ table. This is the ditch (the archaeological volunteers are off at tea). It is a shame that the clay beneath the features has dried out .

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As usual, our volunteers have worked hard, from 12 year olds upwards, and in our Trench 14, in the field, we have started finding fragments of what looks like waste from metalworking. Maybe we have uncovered a blacksmith’s or forge. This is an area that we intend to return to next year.

Members of the Young Archaeologists Club came back today. They have showed skill at excavation, so we are beginning to teach more techniques, such as using a dumpy level, and next time, recording, planning, and photography.

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Tomorrow is the last post for this year, but once we have processed the finds and have a bit more dating evidence, I will put another post up afterwards. Stay tuned.

Another Perfect Day

Today was a hard working day again for our volunteers (sorry). Since we discovered the ditch, we have been digging to the bottom, and have shifted about 3 tons of archaeological deposits in three days. Most of the finds seem to date from the 13th to 16th centuries. We will show some of these during our Open Day on Saturday 10th, from 10am to 4pm.

I’d really like to thank all the volunteers that come regularly, some of them since the first season in 2012. Thanks then, to all, and if I name some, I’ll forget others. But, thanks to Anne, Christine, Colin, Debbie, James, Jack, Linda, Liz, Ron, Trevor, and Val, plus all the others that have made the daily volunteer count vary from 18 to 42.

And Debbie brought archaeology cakes.

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Tasty.

This fine, dry weather has enabled us to clean nicely for our archive photographs and too work out phasing of buildings. Generally, the more recent the archaeological building or horizon, the more robust it is. This is one of 4 Christines planning Trench 11.

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The trench is deep now

We have been getting very deep in our Trench 13. I thought it was a straightforward trench, revealing a buried land surface with a few pits cut into it. How wrong I was. We have now realised that we were looking at the top of an enormous ditch, backfilled in the late medieval/ early post medieval period, i.e. the 15th or 16th centuries. We need the finds examined by specialists to provide an accurate date. The finds we have include medieval pottery, building material and food waste, and some of the pottery fragments look rather high quality.

So that is some thoughts on the date, but what sort of ditch is it? I was wondering why a ditch was needed, when the River Pinn is so near, so I thought of a leat, or artificial channel helping power a mill, but that is unlikely. Next, a large rubbish pit? There is not enough household finds for this.  I’m beginning to wonder whether the known medieval property at Eastcote, called Hopkyttes, had a moat. Two more days to find out! The ditch feature is so large that it continues beyond the trench in 3 directions. P1010435 (Medium)

I’d like to thank all the classes who came from Coteford School over the last two weeks. We hope to see everyone and their teachers again next year. We keep the trowels ready….

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I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

So it goes. In our trench in the field, we took off the layers of flint and tile rubble to find some related foundations. No, They aren’t there yet. Underneath the rubble was more soil, not foundations. I have a feeling that the whole site, which has a geology of clay, is prone to slumping and slipping, and has covered up the foundations we were expecting to see. The rubble had a few bits of china overlying it, but medieval pottery within it, so the exact date is a bit hard to tie down. I think, on Thursday the 7th, we will get the school groups to take of some soil in this trench. compared to the last post, much of the mixed rubble has gone, leaving just flint, and a layer of soil. Perhaps the flint in the foreground is the foundation.

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We have also been digging on down in our pit or ditch in trench 13, which contains, within the soil, a large quantity of brick, tile and mortar, as well as pieces of medieval tile. And this. I think it is an icosahedron (20 sided), made of a copper alloy, and I’m not sure what it is. any suggestions gratefully received. It is for this sort of find that experts on archaeological artefacts really come into their own.DSC_0271 (Medium)

That is a modern 20p coin next to it…

 

 

Have we found what we’re looking for?

We have had a busy Tuesday, with two school groups and around 20 adult volunteers, although I may have lost count. Jill presented a finds talk in the afternoon as well as educating the school groups in the morning.

Our cellar dig is providing lots of the volunteers with exercise, and the finds cleaning group a lot of work. Glass still dominates the finds, but the nails are catching up fast.

In the cellar, the windows of the west wall are now quite clear and we have just found the wall of Eastcote House.DSC_0257

Our medieval trench may contain a large pit or ditch. we just have to dig it out…..More of this tomorrow or the day after

In our trench in the field, we have uncovered a large expanse of flint and brick rubble, and a smaller area of just flint. I am hoping that beneath the rubble, a foundation, or buried land surface may be uncovered. The next post will show what we uncovered.

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Rooms and a remarkable quantity of flint.

A busy Sunday, with lots of our weekday diggers coming back today, and bringing their families with them. Fortunately we got a dozen new trowels, so that is plenty for everyone.

Trench 11 continues to give up evidence for a series of buildings superseding each other in the area of the service/ servants rooms, and at the moment we have been doing a lot of cleaning there to reveal the archaeology, rather than digging through it. It looks quite good when clean and slightly damp, with the bricks showing up strongly, and orange gravel bedding layers for tiles or slabs is quite colourful. This is Trench 11 looking westwards, after a week of work:

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In the field to the east, Trench 14 was looking a little confusing. The Young Archaeologists had worked through a layer of 19th century soil, and we just took off a little bit more, and revealed a wide spread of flint rubble, looking at first as though it was laid down in straight lines. Some of the flint may represent a wall that has fallen over rather than a foundation. There is also a big dump of roof tile.  As we dig, we think about what we are finding, with possibilities and interpretations changing all the time, so we will have a bit of a dig on Tuesday, to find out what is going on.

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Holiday on Monday. next blog Tuesday.

 

 

Little Tornados

We had a rather blustery day. It was calm in the depths of our medieval trench, but when we arrived this morning, one of our gazebos was twisted out of recognition as it tried to escape. We tied it to the fence, to prevent it landing in a ditch, but the wind was so strong that it yanked a leg off.

This was a busy Sunday, with the young Archaeologist Club attending from 10 until 3 (thanks, Kevin). They excavated our Trench 14, in the field, and helped reveal a large area of flint which may be a foundation or a collapsed wall. I’ll post a picture of that when it’s extent is confirmed. This is the group:

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In the other trenches, the archaeology keeps coming. In our trench with the service buildings of Eastcote House, there seem to have been at least three, maybe four phases of building, alteration and repair. There are some rooms defined by brick foundations, with compact areas of sand and gravel and mortar, which is probably bedding layers for tiles and slabs, these are cut into and interrupted by bigger wall footings of sturdier form.

In our medieval trench, we may be down to the topsoil that was buried in 1598 when Eastcote House was built. There are some filled-in pits with a good scatter of finds, but we need a bigger assemblage of artefacts to really prove a date. We have excavated pottery fragments of medieval and Tudor date (I think), and the remains of meals, with lamb bones and oyster shell collected.

Because of that wind, this is me and Charlie trying to sort out the gazebo. This will be this years caption competition. Post a suggestion and I’ll  decide the wittiest. P1010382 (Medium)

 

Walls and soil, soil and walls.

The post title says it all, that is exactly what we have found.  And, of course, lots of finds. In fact, we spent part of the morning sorting out our finds. Our approximate count of finds is, in quantity, as follows:

Broken glass, 500 pieces

Nails, 300

Post-medieval pottery, 200 sherds,

Animal bones, 51

Medieval pottery, 50,

Tudor pottery,  20

Anyway,  the archaeological remains in Trench 11,  are the foundations of service buildings, for example scullery, kitchen, pantry rooms. The foundations, show different periods of construction, suggesting that repairs and alterations were being carried out over several centuries. In the picture, this rectangular brick chamber has been inserted across an earlier wall in the foreground, and being discovered to the rear. We hope to get some dating evidence from the different parts of the foundations.

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In our Trench 13, we are digging ever down through the clay soil dumps to get to the medieval topsoil. We have two pits cutting through the buried topsoil. Val, there in the middle, is excavating part of a pit with some charcoal that may come from a fireplace, while Colin has a bigger pit to cope with. Both are earlier than the remains of Eastcote House.

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It is the Weekend tomorrow, so lots of visitors are expected. Let us hope it is a dry one.