Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Finishing up in the Churchyard

Friday 19/08/11

Hi there, I'm Andy. I'm kinda the homeless wastrel of SERF and have been

floating around ever since the Paddock trench got closed down a week ago. At
the moment I've been adopted by Meggen and the Churchyard posse who are
excavating around the eastern wall of the church. As you can see from the
pics below they have uncovered some really interesting features and it is
looking like we may be able to get a date for the earliest structure that
has been uncovered in the very near future.

As tomorrow is the last day of the project today has been a day of recording
at break neck speeds. Marco and Carol have done a sterling job of
surveying and recording the features that have been excavated along the
church wall with the different layers of building foundations. Nicola and
Paul have been finishing wee bits of work that needed doing and hastily
recording all that they can. Scotty has been busy in his teensy trench at
the northern most edge of the excavation drawing and carefully recording the
relationships between the different deposits of soil, stone and other
material that will allow us to create a narrative for this site from the
medieval period up to today. Whilst Meggen has been somehow turning all this
frenetic activity into a well oiled archaeological machine.

Recording of the stonework under the church

A lot of frantic digging and recording to finish on time

It wasn't all about recording today though. Over the course of the excavation many disarticulated human remains were discovered at the southernmost corner of the church, having been most likely moved there

during the construction of the church that is standing today. We also came across a number of unmarked burials from the medieval period. We felt that we had to reinter these remains in as dignified manner as possible. To this end I spent the morning constructing a cist to receive the remains and at midday the Reverend J Bruce Thomson gave a short service and committed the remains back to the earth from which they had been disturbed.

Stone cist awaiting it's contents
It was a tranquil and peaceful time with the majority of people working on the Forteviot dig present as well as a number of the local laity. After the reverend had gone however we were swiftly back to work racing against the clock, and seemingly against impending rain, to get everything recorded. As quickly as we measured and drew, and plotted and recorded however we were beaten by the clock, and a lot of hungry bellies. While we all headed back to base camp for tea Meggen stayed on valiantly working on getting the trench ready to be closed. As I write this people have headed back to work into the failing light so that we can build as full and rounded a picture of this part of Forteviot and Strathern as possible.

There is such good evidence for activity in this region stretching from the
Neolithic right through to the modern day that our understanding of this
area is extremely important if we are to fully understand Scotland and the
north of Britain and how it came to be as it is today.

Well it is nearly the end of this season's dig and we have a whole load of
data and finds to get analysing before we can get back to you with the
results of our work here over the last five years. I say 'our' work and by
that I mean all the staff of the SERF project, the students, both
undergraduate and postgraduate, of Glasgow and Aberdeen universities as well
as the students from farther afield and volunteers from a more local...context ;)

Here's to another five years of SERF and to the future of the past in

Saturday 20/08/11

Final day in the Churchyard today. Adrian's trench was all finished yesterday with the final recording of the many early medieval gravecuts completed and samples taken that will hopefully allow us to get some dating evidence for these graves. Today was all about the backfilling and thanks to a monumental effort from the churchyard team and their extended group of helpers this was all finished by early mean feat considering this was the largest and deepest trench dug in Forteviot.

 The 'big' trench with its gravecuts and postholes

Trench dancing!
Over by the church there was still much frantic recording ongoing...just too many interesting features in this trench. Under the church building we have uncovered many different courses and types of stone foundations. Some are re-used earlier stone for the foundation of the present church building with others being possibly even older in-situ foundations for a medieval building. There is also evidence of a small structure that came out from the east end of the church with clay bonded walls. What this may have been has been the topic of much intellectual debate leading to one senior site director taking a mattock to the wall to establish that the structure was in fact an add on to the building. All of this was being done while still trying to record and clean up the area for final photographs but never the less we persevered and finished up by late afternoon, leading to an all hands on deck backfilling session which was completed in a record couple of hours before a well deserved end of dig BBQ back at Strathallan.

Final look at the church trench with all of it's complicated stratigraphy
Well done to all the Churchyard team over the last 3 weeks!


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