Sunday 23 August 2009

DAY 20: 22/08/09

Saturday 22, and another great day at the cemetery site at least for me personally.

I started on my feature four days ago and have trowelled down to a depth of about a metre on my Pictish burial. The contexts have varied from soft earth to shingle to gravel and back to earth until 2 days ago. Spotting a small deposit of charcoal, I followed it westwards to reveal a thin linear shape around 8 inches long and an inch wide, thinking it was a burned stick of some sort, I called Ewan to have a look. He recommended that I trowel the opposite east side to see if there was an opposite linear feature which there appeared to be also. To cut a long tale short the last two days have revealed a coffin shape of charred wood remarkably preserved in the acid soil which to me resembles a small burnt out boat. As the feature deepened and my arms shortened, a plank was needed to lay across the cut so that I could work in a more comfortable position which really helped, a good tip for the future would be to place a good flat stone under each end to stop the edges of the cut breaking and falling in like it did with me yesterday. Yesterday, I came across tooth enamel at the west end of the cut which I first mistook for small pieces of straw stalk which I thought had blown in to the feature but on closer examination appeared to be teeth. I laid the first piece on my trowel and found that it had only one side and was fragile and shell like. Around 7 or 8 were discovered and bagged carefully and for a while Archaeology was more like delicate dentistry. Today revealed more of the charred wood remains of what seems to be a coffin but the jury is still out with Ewan suggesting a log burial and a monastic burial as possible candidates of interpretation. In the last 15 mins of the day as I cleared the base of the burial to the pea gravel, I spotted more wood remains at the west end and a greyish-white sticky soil above where I found the enamel and so tonight the area is protected most skilfully with plastic bags, stones and a wheelbarrow on top, and awaits our return on the last morning of field school; and I have not even started my plan yet!