Wednesday, 11 August 2010

DAY 7 - 10th August 2010


Trench 6

After a nice wee skive yesterday it was back to the hard graft again today. So far I’ve been a trench 8 man but as trench 8 is all but complete I was shipped off to whomsoever wanted me and was claimed by trench 6. After a quick look round to get my bearings, I was thrown into ‘ The Pit of Death’, sadly not because there are any remains within it but because of the amount of time its taken. Our orders for the day were to go down a metre but remove as much as possible, as soon as possible, so as to get the complete section of the pit. Our starting point can be seen in the picture to the right. By lunch, after what had felt like a hundred barrow loads, we had removed a large portion and began straightening the edges, with even Kenny and Gordon lending a hand. Just as lunch began the heavens were opened by a solitary crack of lightning when everyone took refuge in the buses. After an hour the rain was still persistent so we waited for a break in the cloud before venturing back to our nicely soaked trenches.  Luckily the rain had cooled us all down and mattocking and shovelling became a little easier, didn’t last long though as the clouds parted and we were bathed in sweltering sunshine. We archaeologists are rarely satisfied by the weather! By the end of the day we had removed a massive amount of earth(see left), but sadly had no significant finds, perhaps tomorrow as we remove the bottom we will hopefully unearth something, anything.                                              


Trench 8
Day eight on trench eight and work continued with enthusiasm as the final stages of excavation and recording proceeded steadily. Our team was reduced to a hardcore collective of four (almost) competent individuals allowing for a close knit communal cooperative to carry out and collate the days work.

I was delighted to discover that I was continuing the excavation of the central grave in the smaller, adjacent and almost certainly later additional square barrow where only a few days earlier the recovery of tooth enamel from a several teeth caused a ripple of excitement amongst the Forteviot team.  Although it is highly unlikely to be able retrieve a date from the finds further examination of the teeth by an individual well versed in the skills of the odontologist may illuminate several physical characteristics allowing us to edge closer to an understanding of the individual who now only remains in the most fragmented and indistinct form.

This was a thought that plagued my thoughts during my days graverobbing,  doubts on the moral rights to impose on the long cessated persons own request and wishes was balanced by a desire to discover and better understand the previous occupants of our fine country.

After excavating the remainder of the westerly half of the grave, where the head once resided, I took a sample from the bottom of the grave fill which with a bit of luck will contain enough charcoal or other material to retrieve an accurate date for the burial. It was in this area that I discovered what looked like a worked stone tool, which as it transpired turned out to be merely natural.

This co-incided with Ewen’s discovery of the largest piece of agate, a workable silicate rock type occasionally used to produce stone tools, ever discovered within the Forteviot cropmark sequence, which fairly delighted our resident Mesolithic expert Dene.

Fiona continued her planning and excavtion of the central grave in the main Square barrow which continues to throw up more questions and answers. The possibility of an outer ditch or palisade was an idea bandied about today as well as the suggestion it may be a rare example of an Iron age square barrow. With a bit of luck these questions will be answered in the remaining days. The grave itself appears to be stone lined and hopefully more information will come to light as the top half, where the head resided upon burial is uncovered.

A torrential downpour and occasional lightning halted work for a couple of hours, as the others clambered into cramped and steaming vans and containers we relaxed in our on site tent and engaged in some extended tea drinking and banter.

Lewis Prentice


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