Saturday 13 August 2011

Day 13 - Churchyard

Hi , Trish here from the churchyard trench,  I’m back to work after poor weather and walkover survey kept me away . Its not a moment too soon either cos they don’t seem to know what to do without me. So, Cats been working on what still looks to be a grave, Ildy and me were working on opposite ends of what we thought to be a related feature . Guess what , turns out its not! We were thinking possible foundations of a timber building, now looks more like postholes.  Meanwhile we put Adrian in a little hole up at the top end with a bucket and a spoon and he was happy as Larry.

Archaeologists utilise all sorts of tools!

When he did make a fuss we threw him something to eat and he was placated.  The North west step had to go its getting in the way of some features  so that kept Ron busy for a bit.  Unfortunately the loss of the expertly crafted  “Scotts Stairs “ has now left us with only the poorly thrown together mud pile of Kenny and Adrian as our only means of escape. Things could get very difficult.  Most of the rest of the day was spent taking photographs and recording and getting ready for the open day tomorrow.
Trowelling over the trench

Day 12-Castle Craig Hillfort

Hi there,

My name is Tessi and as most others here I study Archaeology at Glasgow University.

Today marked another exciting day at Castle Craig. The weather oddly did not conform to the forecast which had predicted rain. All we had to deal with was a light drizzle – and that we can do. Especially after the short trip to Trespass yesterday.

I was placed in the trench with the suspected inner wall of the structure. Claire was with me and we had the mission to bring the area in front of it to a level with the rest of the trench. It was a very satisfying experience to work around a clearly defined structure and both of us were determined to finish the task by the end of the day.

We soon noticed a slight but perfect curve to the wall which Heather used to look for a potential centre of the structure. It thankfully missed the spoil heap by a few meters! A helpful discovery when thinking about the next few steps in the excavation. The others have found a few big stones in Trench 2 which have appeared under a layer of charcoal rich soil. This should be interesting and I hope it will turn out to be another lovely part of the wall. Fingers crossed.

Tomorrow, we will also clear away some of the huge stones in front of our inner wall and we are anticipating it. A simple surface would suffice to make me happy, I think... treasure of some kind is of course also always appreciated.

People are already whispering about what lies beneath our feet – but it has not been branded yet. There is still plenty of room for surprises and contradictions. As always.

Friday 12 August 2011

Day 12 - Churchyard

Hi, Nicola here again for an update on what's been happening in the Church trench over the last few days. Unfortunately the weather's not been kind to us so we've not been able to spend as much time on site as we would like but despite this we've made quite a lot of progress at the Church. The flagstones that we had found last week are reckoned to be the foundations for the stairway to a Laird's Loft that was situated at the East end of the present Church building before renovations in the 19th Century. These stair foundations were filled in with a lot of sandstone and mortar rubble that has at last now all been removed. Much blood, sweat and tears were used up in moving some of the larger stones! Getting rid of all this rubble has allowed us to see the wall of an earlier church building with a very nice plinth (angled stone layer) which is a feature of medieval churches. There has been a lot of excitement all round at finding this and even more so when we continued down and found that there are more courses of masonry underneath the plinth level which would have been underground when the church building was standing...crypt possibly?! That would probably be to much to ask for, however, near the end of today we did get down far enough to find what may possibly be a layer of mortared stone from an even earlier building. Tomorrow will hopefully bring answers as to what these stones are so watch this space!
The plinth and wall of an earlier church building appearing

Day 12 - Haly Hill

I'm Steven and I've been at Haly Hill since the start. Today's weather has allowed us to make substantial progress here. Trench 4 is where it's all happening today. I've been cleaning up the suspected Drain at the byre end of the building. But, the real action is in the interior where a hearth has been clearly identified. There is an obvious hearth-stone sitting on a lot of burnt wood remains, which is presumably the remains of a wooden floor surface, but could also be whats left of a wooden roof which burned and fell into the building.

Cleaning back around the hearth

The trenches at Haly Hill continue to be a hot-spot for local wildlife, with a frog in the trench this morning to add to the hedgehogs of last week. Proving that the attentions of both man and beast are clearly focussed on Haly Hill (where all the real archaeology is taking place!)
House structure in trench 4

Day 7 - The Village Hall

                                             Keen Drawers: Justine, Tom and Leanne.

Fiona again! Today found all the students crammed into the village hall due to heavy rain and flood warnings which made the trenches unworkable. However we didn't sit about doing nothing. This awful weather gave us the chance to catch up on processing the finds that had been accumulating in the finds tent during the week. Most students were given the chance to get hands on with the finds by cleaning them under Phd student Allsion's supervison. Other acticities included photography and i handled the drawing practice. Prof. Steven Driscoll also organised a trip to see the famous Duplin Cross for those who hadn't. It was a nice relaxing day inside after lots of heavy work in the outdoors during the week!

Day 6 - The Manse

                                                In photo: Fiona, Prof. Brown and Eva.

Hi - Fiona here again! I'm now helping to supervise on the Manse trench and today proved to be a successful one with two pieces of medieval pottery found in the latest context and what appears to be the remains of a bowl furnace which would most likely have been used in medieval smith work. As the trench gets deeper our wall is now clearly more substansial and may hopefully prove to be more than a 'HaHa.' We also had a visit from Glasgow University's Proffesor of Scottish History, David Broun who was keen to see field archaeology in practice and have a go himself.

In photo: Eva keeps at the mattocking while Ewan sets up a site grid for planning the position of our finds.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Day 10- Craig Castle Hillfort

Hi my name is Claire, I am a 3rd year student at Glasgow University. First day back on the hill after a couple of days and things have changed a lot. The rain was pouring down from the start of the day but we got off to a good start with a pep talk from the trench supervisor, Heather.

We had a new addition to the trench, Andy and everyone else was back in full force and back to their individual areas on at the site. The outer wall of the building feature in Trench 1 is appearing nicely which I find particularly exciting as I did the pre-ex plan and we were sure we could see something visible even then.

I was put into the corner area mattocking to bring it down to the same level. Spirits were low before tea break as everyone was soaked to the skin, I also felt like I was not making much progress and all that was keeping me going was the thought of the Mars Bar in my pocket!

Tea break saw us all squeezed into the tent, Charlie had brought some treats and everyones spirits rose. Heather made the decision that we should throw in the trowel at lunchtime so we all felt we should try our hardest for the last bit. As we appeared from the tent the high hillfort crew arrived with reinforcements. Tessa jumped into my trench and got to work straight away on mattocking. As we took the stale tumble off the site it gave new life to the excavations and a picture of what used to stand here became revealed.

Although some people wanted to stay longer the decision had been made to break at lunch, and as we know in Scotland a verbal contract is legally binding! We also found out that our team of diggers had successfully stayed out the longest, congratulations everyone!

Day 10

Hi, I'm Lesley and I am studying History and Archaeology at Glasgow University. I began my day at Haly Hill by helping to dig up the new extension to Trench 4. However, I was only there for about five minutes as Professor Driscoll gave us the choice of digging at Trench 4 or to go and start processing finds. It took me about a second to decide to go and process finds because you have to process finds in the village hall and today it was pouring down outside! Happy at the thought of not having my fingers fall off because of the cold, I headed to the village hall by myself where I spent the rest of the day washing the finds. My choice of leaving for the village hall seemed to have been the right choice as by the first tea break everybody came back soaking. It was then decided that for the rest of the day everybody was to process the finds at the village hall because the rain was not going to stop, and the trenches were now becoming pools. We had fun processing the finds, as the picture below shows, and it gave us a chance to see what all the trenches were finding. Today a piece of neolithic flint was found at the Manse, so tomorrow we will hopefully discover something just as old.
Washing finds in the comfort of the dry, warm village hall
Day 9-Ben Effrey

Hi my name is Vlad, I am a foreign exchange student from Romania. Today was beautiful and sunny outside, with the long awaited warmth, some breeze and no traces of rain – a bit for everyone, really. Team Effrey (or occasionally Jeffrey), consisting of Tessa, Cathy, Tom, Vlad, Dan and Adriana (who was absent today because of field walking duties) along with Lorraine, made its glorious entry in the hillfort after a 20 minutes climb in a mesmerizing landscape. The sheep had taken advantage of our empty site in the past two days and rudely left their characteristic marks all over. Despite this we set off to work right away.

Unfortunately we didn’t have any finds today – it’s not that we are unluckier than everybody else, just that the site we are digging is prehistoric, you know, so it is likely to be more than one-metre deep to reach traces of human presence from the Iron Age. While Lorraine and Cathy were doing the topographic survey of the site, the rest of us mattocked and towelled in different parts of the trench in order to uncover the three ramparts of the fort and also record the development of the site over time (tumbled stones, reason for abandonment, possible destruction etc.). Around noon, we had three visitors – a father with his two small sons – who were passing by and were curious to find out our mission up there. Hmm apart from that there were no other notable events, but we don’t need any in order to enjoy ourselves while trying to bring a great contribution to our archaeological project :-)

Day 9

Appologies for the lack of posts over the last few days...technical problems!

In the Churchyard
Hi my name is Ron and I’m in the Churchyard again today.  We began with a power-trowel of the spoil created by the rain and removing the bulk.  After some discussion (and a brief interruption to go move some heavy paving stones over by the church) it was decided that the second half of the trench would be opened after tea-break.  Removing the soil from the rest of the trench took the rest of the day, and it was fairly arduous, but we finished in the end. I'm rather proud of how much soil we shifted in the course of only a few hours. Tomorrow, we will give it a light trowel and hopefully the features we were expecting to find (Adrian's Ditch, and a few other places that seem to be sort of regular cuts) will be there.

Pondering the 'Big Trench'