After yesterday afternoon’s colossal effort, this morning was sedate. Georgina & I spent the morning cleaning the worst off some of the finds so that they could be stored until it was time for proper cleaning and analysis. We also had a look at the trench & put a few sods back in place. The rest need to go down. Weather permitting, I will probably do that on my lonesome on Friday (unless anyone is fool enough to come & help). Rain is forecast tomorrow which should mean it won’t be as hot as it was when we refilled the trench yesterday.
Georgina managed to get a Find Of The Day! She spotted a small piece of pottery among the sods and it turned out to be a rim sherd from a late Medieval/early Post Medieval vessel – quite a fancy one too. It is quite finely potted with glaze both inside & outside, possibly from something like a drinking bowl.
Beasts Of The Day were a colony of pond skaters making the most of the available water, cute little things & very soothing to watch them.
That is pretty much it for these daily write ups. There will be updates as and when new developments emerge – particularly as we start the post excavation process. Keep your eyes open for sessions you can join in with on the Future Events page.
My thanks are extended to all those who have helped or come to visit us – especially Catherine, Gayle & Steven who put in many hours of hard work, also Georgina, Idris & Peter – and to our hosts who gave us such luxurious quarters as our site hut.
It has been an odd fortnight or so – we arrived on site expecting to find remnants of the Medieval occupation site and have ended up with what looks like a prehistoric knapping site. That’s Pendle’s Hidden Valley and archaeology for you – ask them questions and you are always going to be surprised by the answers.
We had more fathers than mothers on site today and it was scorchio. Sondage D has been taken down to ‘the natural’, Feature 1 has been cleaned up and recorded, ditto Feature 2, and elsewhere more of Context 3 is being peeled back. Judging from the pottery found in it, Context 3 looks like it is probably Medieval and will hopefully give a clearer picture of how people lived on the site in that period.
The Finds Of The Day are chert tools. Peter found a late Bronze Age/early Iron Age end scraper/gouge & Steven unearthed a D shaped scraper, probably Bronze Age, in Feature 2.
As we picnicked in the shade we were joined by a rather cute money spider – probably a Linyphiidae species. It was quite happy to have its picture taken and is our Beast Of The Day.
One full day of digging left then its recording and backfilling on Tuesday. Many hands make light work and all that – nudge nudge wink wink….
Today I started recording some of the sections and to help me do this I used some high tech – to wit a camera & some cotton buds . Well I do like the sections to be kept nice & clean. We make a record of the sections so that we have some idea of the layers of history (& different types of dirt) we have cut through. For our special guest diggers, the next generation of archaeologists, it was also a useful demonstration of the story archaeology can tell about a place.
Gayle bagged yet another Find Of The Day – a lovely piece of a Medieval green glazed ware. Its a sherd from the top of a ‘strap’ handle off a large vessel, possibly a pitcher or flagon. They are called strap handles because they are made by attaching a strap like, rather than tube like, piece of clay to the vessel.
There were lots of candidates for Beast Of The Day but as the weather was so much warmer they were much harder to photograph. My choice was a horsefly with amazing psychedelic eyes, but this was vetoed as I had rearranged it a bit. The actual Beast Of The Day was a somewhat worse for wear Green Veined White that alighted on the dig diary.
The weather bodes poorly for trench photography but fine for those digging for the rest of the dig. We have two more full days of digging then we will backfill on Tuesday arvo.
We have been concentrating on the feature previously known as Idris’s Doughnut and trying to find ‘the natural’. The Doughnut continues to grow and now seems to be a made cobble platform of some sort & probably pre-dating the existing buildings in the area. The surface a short distance below it certainly pre-dates them – it was probably there when humans returned to the area as the ice retreated at the end of the last ice-age (not the film fyi). In different parts of the trench, Steven & Catherine dug through this grey silt and clay strata to expose a layer of stones dropped by the glacier as it traveled through the valley. These layers are ‘the natural’ so mission partially accomplished. In another sondage, in another part of the trench, Gayle had started to expose the top of what looks like the the silty layer by the end of the day.
Steven’s journey into the deep past involved the pictured sondage within a sondage. The stoney layer is so closely packed that we were unable to get the point of the ranging rod into the ground. The white section (NOT including the point) is 50cm which gives some idea of the thickness of this layer. The silt and clay was probably deposited when the area was covered by a lake or slow moving body of water.
Find Of The Day comes from the layer of stones below the silt. It’s a decent sized lump of sandstone that the glacier has carried from where it was formed and then dropped in our trench. There it sat patiently for about 15000 years or more, waiting for Catherine to come along and wrest it from it’s resting place. These bits of stone that drop from the bottom of the glacier are known as glacial erratics.
The Beast Of The Day has two rather splendid names – Pseudargyrotoza conwagana for formal occasions but Yellow Spot Twist to its friends.
Tomorrow we are hoping to unearth some more clues about our pebble made feature.
I’m sure the site’s archaeology is taunting us. Sondage A revealed what looks like the rest of the Doughnut. It’s a feature built of medium sized pebbles and it may well be a pad to go under a wooden post.
After a day of finding mostly worked stone, today continued in much the same way (see Find Of The Day below) until….. near the pebble feature, Steven foung a large piece of late Medieval/early Post Medieval pottery. I had been wondering if the feature related to a Medieval structure and this suggests it was. What is confusing is why we have had so few finds from Anno Domini and so many from BC. I have been having thinks about that…
Find Of The Day is from BC (not Before Chert). It is a piece of worked quartz or quartzite, representing the increasing amount of this that we have been finding.
The one that is Find Of The Day is a wedge of quartz or quartzite that has then been retouched along its working edge – bracketed in red. Its a very hard material to work with any degree of control and it may have been more for ritual or show than practical use.
Beast Of The Day is a freshly emerged lacewing that took a shine to Georgina. Lacewings are predators of a number of pests including aphids.
We were at it again today, delving underground, lifting up rocks to peer into Pendle’s past. It’s getting more complex and older. The largest amount of pottery today was Medieval & there was precious little of that though Gayle did find a beauty. By far the most prolific material found today was stone, and chert in particular. The contexts we are working through have more stone in them than the upper two strata. Our finds are suggesting that the locals had been working lithics (making stone tools) in prehistory.
The archaeology is getting more complex as well as older. The prime example of this is Idris’s Doughnut – picture above. Idris was tasked with excavating a potential feature in the north west of the trench. It turned out to be quarter of a shallow pit with a raised centre – a bit like a fossil ring doughnut. The fill had quite a lot of good quality silver grey chert in it.
Also in the fill was the Find Of The Day, the first charcoal we have found on the dig. Charcoal is important to archaeologists because it has the potential to provide dating evidence through Carbon 14 testing. C14 is a radioactive isotope that decays at a steady rate so it is possible to tell from the amount left how long an organism has been dead. Charcoal from quick growing trees like hazel & willow produces more accurate dates than from trees like oak or ash. The testings not cheap though.
Beast Of The Day was found scooting around at high speed on the edge of the doughnut. It looks like a tiny little (less than 10mm) cybermat – and for certain garden pests it is just as deadly. The miniature terror is a rove beetle, probably Tachinus rufipes.
We will be digging tomorrow, day off Tuesday, then back to the trenches on Wednesday etc – and hopefully further back in time.
The rain returned today and it seemed to be enjoying itself. We cleaned about a third of yesterdays finds and theorised about what the artifacts we have found so far may tell us about the site’s history. We also looked at our soggy trench and saw a few things that have been exposed by the rain – see if you can spot a couple below.
Today we had a visit from Stuart Noon, the author of the recently published ’50 Finds From Lancashire’ (available in the Pendle Heritage Centre bookshop), who threw in a few theories of his own. It was he who spotted impressions on our daub fragment.
Find Of The Day is said fragment of daub with impressions left by the wattle. This may be from the existing 16th century building or from an earlier structure. Daub is notoriously hard to date and was used widely from prehistory until fairly recently.
Beast Of The Day was a cute little Garden Spider (& the remains of its last meal – possibly an earlier Beast) who kept us company in our site accommodation.
Miserable Monday indeed. Yeh verily it did piddle down all day. But lo, we were not daunted, for we were fortified with hot drinks and comfortable seats.
We spent to day cleaning finds to date and starting the assessment of the bulk finds. Find Of The Day goes to something that looked like nothing until cleaned – a small sherd of a Medieval splash glazed gritty ware (12th to 13th Century).
Beast Of The Day is the extravagantly named Dryophilocoris flavoquadrimaculatus.
Please note that even if the weather is misbehaving, as it was today, we will still be working at the dig site. Our wonderful facilities meant we were able start cleaning the finds and assessing the site based on what we have found.
Today we started on our first ‘proper’ context (image below). In other words the first undisturbed archaeological layer. We were still finding Victorian material and prehistoric chert but we have also unearthed some Medieval pottery.
The first & best sherd of Medieval pot was found by Steve and is our Find Of The Day. It probably comes from the house that preceded the current one. This would almost certainly have been a timber framed building.
Beast Of The Day went to lawn grub that greeted us in the morning.
Please note that even if the weather is misbehaving we will still be working at the dig site. Our wonderful facilities mean we can start cleaning the finds and assessing the site based on what we have found.
For free access to the museum and gardens and reduced admission to our day time and evening talks: