Friday 11 July 2014

Final update from the prehistoric site at Wellhill

Well that's SERF over for another year and what a year it was. Wellhill turned out to be an incredibly pottery rich site along with prehistoric field systems and many large pits being discovered. Other treats included some charred hazelnut shells, lithics and even some Arran pitchstone. Big thanks to everyone who was involved with Wellhill this summer, you were all amazing. Here are some fun photos for now :-)

Cathy Mac's birthday on site.

Maria with one of her many fantastic prehistoric pottery finds (the one day it rained in 3 weeks).

The whole Wellhill team.

A scarily accurate photo of our wonderful director Dene (illustrator unknown...maybe).

See you next time!

Monday 7 July 2014

Developments at Millhaugh Barrow:

We’ve continued to reveal the structure of the prehistoric burial monument, and the team have worked really hard and made impressive progress removing and revealing the cairn material and its turf covering. In order to get deeper down into the barrow and discover what lies beneath it, we’ve now begun to target particular parts of it: specifically, the centre and the edge of the barrow. This should give us a greater understanding of the monument’s construction.
Already in the lower area of the trench we encountered a surprise, in the form of another very large stone, similar to the kerbstones. We need to remove more of the cairn material to establish whether this is part of a wider pattern within the cairn, or an isolated outlier lying within. In the middle of the cairn, we have now excavated to 80cm below the surface – where the cairn material continues to be found, with the stones becoming even larger.
There was real excitement on site towards the end of Thursday, when Brenda discovered a beautiful deep blue flint scraper near the base of the kerbstones. We are now into double figures of small finds!

Figure 1: The mysterious inlier beside the kerbstones

Figure 2: The fine lithic Brenda found

Sunday 6 July 2014

Time for a quick update on what's been happening at the Roman temporary camp at Dunning.

Once the heavily disturbed clay layer was removed from the south-facing side of the bank, a much firmer layer of pinkish clay was discovered. At the bottom of the bank, this layer dropped away sharply, revealing a much softer brown soil sandwiched between the pink clay and some silty rubble. This was interpreted as the potential remains of a slot for a timber revetment, being held in place by the rubble, designed to contain the rampart material (pink clay) and prevent it from slumping back into the camp.

The pink clay was believed to be redeposited natural subsoil used by the Roman military to construct the bank. A large sondage (slot) was therefore dug into this layer to establish its full extent.

In the northern half of the trench, the team removed the bulk of the rubble deposits which included a number of modern or nineteenth century glass fragments and ceramic sherds. Beneath the the lowest layer of rubble was a smashed nineteenth century field drain segment, therefore these deposits do not relate directly to the Roman structure. It may be that the ditch of the camp was incorporated into a simple rubble drainage system relating to the modern road.

With these contexts removed, the next task was to investigate the lower soils filling the ditch to better understand the Roman structural features of the ditch, how it had been cut, and how it relates to rampart.

Saturday 5 July 2014

It's the SERF Open Day on Sunday, please come along and tell all your friends!

Friday 4 July 2014

Wellhill Update

We're entering our third and final week at SERF 2014 and for Wellhill this means one final exciting push to finish excavating all our features and start the post-excavation planning. This is no easy task thanks to all the archaeology the students have discovered and excavated :-) It's been a whirlwind of pottery and lithics, and I'm sure we have a pretty special site here.

                            Some of the students standing in their quarter sectioned Bronze Age pits.

                                                           Hunter hard at work in his pit.

Keep checking back this coming week as we expect many more finds from Wellhill, and also expect more updates from the other sites during this final week as we keep on SERFing into the past.


Tuesday 1 July 2014

A quick update from Wellhill:

We are continuing to dig the large pits with Bronze Age pot coming up. We are nearing the bottom of the quarter sections in some of the pits and opening others up to investigate them to see how they compare to the ones we have dug so far.

The probable Neolithic pits are continuing to produce more pottery and some lithic finds. The pit Martina is digging is a bit complicated and turns out to have been a large pit which has then filled in been recut, filled with natural material and then has been recut again and filled with the charcoal, pottery and lithic rich fill.

Martina's pit
In Trench 2 Hollie has been finishing up the last feature in the trench - a shallow pit filled with burnt bone and charcoal. Star find of the dig so far (especially according to Dene) was a quantity of burnt hazelnut shell. This is great news for us because it is normally picked, eaten and then burnt in a short space of time so really good for carbon dating. It probably indicates that the pit has been filled with waste from a fireplace. Nice one Hollie!

It was a really hot day today so the students did a great job digging in the hot and dusty conditions. Some of the staff didn't do so well.......

Ginger people are not made for sun!

Thanks to Jan Brophy for all the home baking. It was amazing!

An update on the exciting things happening at Millhaugh Barrow:

As well as all of the other things going on at SERF this year, a small crack team of diggers have been working away on the outskirts of Dunning, working on a possible prehistoric barrow (burial mound) called Millhaugh. This mound, which is visible from the main road and across from the Maggie Wall monument, is tree-covered but was only identified as a possible prehistoric monument in the 1990s. It is a fairly big mound, about 20m across, and almost 2m high in the middle.
We started work on this on Monday 23rd July and we have made great progress, and are already fairly sure this is a Neolithic or Bronze Age barrow. We started by moving weeds and nettles, and shifting a lot of modern field clearance material, before removing the upper turf level. Very quickly we started to reveal the prehistoric monument, sealed beneath a much larger modern field clearance cairn.
The strategy is to dig a slice out of the barrow as if it were a big cake, so we can see the layers inside. Our trench only measures 2m by 11m so we are only really carrying out a keyhole investigation into the barrow, and we still have loads to do, but already we can tell that the top level of the barrow was probably some kind of turf capping. This overlies a thick rubble and earth layer which we are still investigating. The whole thing was defined by a kerb of large rounded boulders.
We’ll update the blog as we get deeper into the heart of the mound. Thanks for a great week’s work to Rebecca, Brenda, Josh, Felix, Andrew and Ashleigh.

Kenny and Helen

Laying out the trench post vegetation clearance


Sunday 29 June 2014

Time for an update on our site in Kincladie Wood: a Roman temporary camp just north of Dunning which we have been excavating for the past week. A small section of the northern bank and ditch survives as an upstanding monument and this is the area which we are investigating.

Dr. Philip Freeman inspects the trench midway through deturfing.

A spread of rubble immediately north of the monument appears to fill the upper portion of the ditch, but only in the western half of the trench. From this layer and the brown silt in front of it we recovered a number of finds from the modern period, including a number of fragments from a glass battery.

Kieran, Jo, Traci and Jacqueline progressively excavate a clayey context, with evidence of considerable tree root disturbance, below the uppermost layer of the bank. To the right, Ross is investigating the full extent of this clay layer. 

This is how the trench appeared after the sixth day of excavation. A number of contexts have been revealed, cleaned and recorded. At this stage the ostensibly simple "bank and ditch" was becoming more complex, meaning there is much to explore in the days ahead!
Wellhill still Potty! The last couple of days have been filled with potty goodness. The large pit features in Trench 1 have been producing lots more Bronze Age pot as well as charcoal rich layers. The smaller Neolithic features have been throwing up more Grooved Ware and some lithics as well (much to Denes excitement!).

                                        Some of the Wellhill students (and Dene) having a break.

Rory excavating a pottery rich pit.

Multiple pottery sherds in situ.

Trench 2 has been busy recording a couple of excavated features including a very truncated cremation pit with burnt bone and charcoal carefully excavated and sampled by Ian. We had a bit of excitement yesterday when Danny (just visiting for the day) cleaned back an area to reveal a small pit filled with burnt material and large pieces of Bronze Age pottery (all nice rim sherds). This is his first ever archaeological find, after years of excavating!

Rim sherd in situ in small pit

Pot in Trench 2 looking towards Ian's cremation pit

Danny looking well chuffed! :)