Friday 21 August 2009

DAY 19: 21/08/09

Another eventful day at the henge…

We were pleased to welcome two groups of children and their teachers from Forgandenny and Forteviot primary schools, who all seemed to enjoy their tour of the site…perhaps some budding archaeologists in the making?

Bones..bones..bones were the order of the day with the now termed cremation cemetery area of the trench producing more burnt bone than you could shake a trowel at. The intrepid ditch diggers finally made it to the bottom of their ‘beautiful’ section in the henge ditch, despite the weather threatening to turn nasty at points (which did give Jamie a chance to show of his rather fetching plastic poncho ensemble!). The weather cleared up towards the end of a very successful day, let’s hope it lasts for the last dash tomorrow…


And an update from the cemetery...

With two days to go it was all action in the cemetery trench. We’ve made good progress and I think we should be finished without too much panic by Sunday!

There’s lots of action happening in the round barrow area. The central grave was excavated completely by Anne-Marie today. Although we didn’t have any remaining traces of the body, we can tell by the size of the grave cut that this was for an adult, probably not much taller than 5’5’’. Alex’s grave became more complicated today as it is cut by one of our line of stony post-holes. We’ve got to excavate that out first before we can complete the excavation of the grave. Our other stony post holes were tackled by Eilidh, Robert & Lauren and are all either under excavation or we’ve finished half-sectioning them. Some of them are really clear and you can see where the post would have been from all the stone packing materials. Others look like the post must have been pulled out and the packing and other stones were dumped inside them. We aren’t exactly sure what this line of 6 postholes is. It might be one side of a building or structure. I am pretty sure that they are cutting the round barrow and so must be later, especially as they cut Alex’s grave, which is likely to be from the same time. We did quite a bit of drawing today to move on with recording and Haileigh drew most of them!

The big excitement is Clark’s grave. Clark would be writing this blog today, but he fell ill in the afternoon so we’ve given him some time off. Must be all that hanging off a plank with his head in a grave! Yesterday we realised we had degraded wood remains representing the coffin. It is very unusual to have any organic remains so we are really lucky! Today, we also found a few fragments of tooth enamel in this grave, which is probably all that remains of the person that was buried here. It is very fragile.

Over in the enclosure area, we’ve finished half-sectioning a large but shallow pit and Ewan and Gordon also uncovered a new feature, which Rachael will finish excavating tomorrow. The new feature has lots of charcoal including some twig sized pieces. We also have some burnt bone coming from here. Two ditch sections have been valiantly dug by Natalia over the past two days, which means we’ve finished our explorations of this feature.

Tomorrow we finish up the final pieces, continue to excavate our graves and do lots of recording.


Thursday 20 August 2009

Day 18: 20/08/09

It was a busy day today - gearing up for the final two days and all hands were on deck to excavate in the trenches. At the cemetery they covered a lot of ground - excavating more of the round barrow and exposing a corner of the large square enclosure. The star find of the day was the stain of a wooden coffin in one of the graves - more of this, hopefully, tomorrow - when it will be excavated. At the henge site they put a lot of effort into digging the henge ditch - which seems to have worked well and they are nearly finished - hooray. Elsewhere a range of other features: pits, post-holes and 'smudges' were dug and recorded.

Marta tells us about her experience at the henge trench...

It was an interesting day at the henge today where I continued to dig the Huge Mysterious Bottomless Hole that I have now been working on for what seems like ages. Fortunately, I’m now sharing this joy with Anna and together we’ re digging down to the natural gravel and finding a lot of burnt bone in the fill that we’re taking out (Anna, who seems to attract the more spectacular stuff, has also found a ‘wooden object’ which is still awaiting more serious investigation).

A lot of people at the site are now excavating their own features, which is to say that we’re all digging holes in the ground. Poor Dene is running from one to the other trying to answer all our questions and keep everything under control.

As this day was adorned by a few ‘showers’ there were several moments when we thought we were going to get rained off, but fortunately we managed to last to the end of the day. Hopefully, tomorrow the weather won’t stop us from working as we still have a lot to do and only 3 days left to go.


Wednesday 19 August 2009

Day 16: 19/08/09

An update from the henge trench with Gordy (who has been there from the start)...

Yipee! – after 10 days in a large hole I finally got a gravelly bottom, and Dene relented and moved me onto something else. Sixteen days in and life on the dig is starting to resemble Groundhog Day; wake up in the morning, speak to the same people, go to the same place, do the same thing… Agggghhhh! But one thing has changed – our shiny new dining hall where everyone can spread out and try to sit as far away from each other as physical possible; it is funny how people separate into their wee cliques and seem reluctant to move out of their comfort zones – maybe we should play musical chairs.

The hot chocolate machine is not working, which does seem to be the one thing dominating my mind right now, and the ‘hot chocolate flavour’ drink from the coffee machine is like drinking a cup of mud with a hint of foam.

The Henge was a buzz of activity as usual today with the Funk Brothers enjoying a day of destruction in the area around the cist – they even managed a late duet of “clean up your spoil”, though they seem to have forgotten the lyrics after that. It was noted that Dr B is not happy about the lengthy commute from the trench to the toilet area, and has promised to have them located nearer next year. It was also pointed out that perhaps the distance is not a bad thing after all, as the smell has real possibilities of reaching the gods – perhaps it is an authentic Neolithic smell to add to the phenomenological experience.

The ladle is in demand today as multiple deep holes appear across the site – maybe the budget will stretch to 2 next year?


And at the cemetery site...

I had a good day at the Pictish cemetery today where I continued to excavate a section through the central burial of the round barrow. At one point I thought we were going to get rained off as some ominous rain clouds were coming our way but luckily they were only teasing. However if the wind continues I don’t think the tent is going to last much longer as two big holes have appeared in it. At least it’s still standing as opposed to the henge tent. Anyway back to the burial. It’s been pretty difficult to work out the different contexts as animals have had their fun burrowing through it. In fact they’ve had their fun through out the whole barrow. There were two nice rectangular shaped charcoal deposits approx 5cm by 10cm, one in a corner of the burial and one along the side (possible remnants of burning stakes? who knows). By the end of the day I reached a large stony/pebbly layer, don’t think it’s the bottom yet so I look forward to digging that tomorrow.


Tuesday 18 August 2009

Day 15: 18/08/09

After a relaxing day off yesterday we were all back to work. It was a good day all around - although it did drizzle for a bit in the afternoon.

At Green of Invermay we continued cleaning the N end on the trench and the stone-packed post-hole that Kenny found a few days ago seems to be part of a wall - a palisade. At the S end of the trench the ditch still seems to go deeper - we are now at a context with ash and occasional burnt bone - lovely.

Until today we had only been excavating a 1m slot through the ditch and it was becoming necessary to excavate the other half. Ben helped me mattock to the top of the ditch, which was hard work. At the end of the day Matt uncovered a possible pit/large posthole between the ditch and the wall - another hooray! This trench is now producing lots of lovely features...

When we came back to the school I got to see the star find from the henge trench, which was a really nice lithic arrowhead. It is tiny, but has been worked finely at the edges. This arrowhead was found by Anna within the henge - brilliant!


Andy will fill us in on his experiences at the cemetery site...

Today I was at the Pictish cemetery site. I’ve been working on a posthole for my portfolio, its more relaxing than mattocking/shovelling. The features on the site are a lot clearer and more easily identifiable this week especially the barrow. With the change in conditions my posthole appears larger than when I left it last week and so I had to expand upon my original excavation. I planned the stony fill of the posthole and photographed it. Personal finds today consisted entirely of charcoal. Need to finish off drawing the profile tomorrow. Alex stole Gordons hot sauce. Went to the toilet and felt uncomfortable with Dene watching. Took a soil sample from the posthole. Lost my phone and found it in the bottom of my trousers. Emmm I can’t think of anything else to write so thanks for taking the time to read my boring blog!

Love Andy

Monday 17 August 2009

Day 14: OPEN DAY 16/08/09

The Open Day was a success - we had so many visitors! We would like to thank everyone who came along and took an interest in what we are doing. Below are some updates from the main sites...

The henge...

SERF open day today, so a very busy day for us all. The day started a little grey and overcast, but brightened up later into a lovely sunny (if very windy) afternoon. I’m working on the mini-henge to the south of the main henge, planning a feature that appeared as I trowelled down through the henge ditch. However, we were so inundated with visitors today that none of us got much done. Instead, most of our time was spent giving guided tours or answering questions. In total we had over 600 visitors to the site – far more, I think, than anyone had expected. Many of the visitors had come because they had heard about the cist burial and wanted to see it for themselves. I think everyone was pleased to see that there are so many people interested in our site.

We left site today pleased that they day had gone so well. I think most of us would agree that it lived up to Leaf’s expectation yesterday that it would be the best open day ever.



The cemetery

Well the tent survived the wind last night and the wind today! Busy and blustery day at the cemetery today, started off by finally being given a feature to dig, was quite fun even if it was only a posthole, especially as I found some burnt bone and charcoal. Dug part of the way down before I hit a layer of stones, I then took some pictures and did a section drawing before starting to dig the other half of the posthole to figure out if there was any pattern to the stones. Unfortunately I didn’t get much done as I was soon distracted by the hordes of people visiting the site for the open day, although we got significantly less people at the henge site got. Giving tours was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be and was actually quite enjoyable, though I did feel like I was starting to sound like a broken record and I never did get back to my posthole, which will now have to wait until Tuesday.

Those at the other end of the site started excavating more of the barrow ditch as well as cleaning around it revealing what may be some more graves.