Saturday, 27 July 2013

26 July 2013, Hickleton Hall POW Project Day 5

We were greeted with another glorious day on Friday, this is perfect weather for working on a Prisoner of War camp! The team today consited of: Alex, Chris, Phil, Kate, Michael, Mia, Anita, Lauren, Connor, Vince, lee, Helen and Anne. Then later in the afternoon we had a visit from Paul and some of his WEA students.

We were a little behind with the first base so it needed to be recorded in order for us to back fill the trench and make it safe for the farmer's cattle to walk on again! Phil spent the morning teaching the volunteers the art of Archaeological draughtsmanship as he talked them through the aspects of scale drawings:

And then they were let loose on the site! Here, half of the team take measurements of the hut base in order to produce a scale drawing of the structure.

Phil explains how a section is drawn to Helen and Anne:

The drawing stage can be a slow process, but is worthwhile as a hand drawing may show things that could be missed by the camera. It also allows the archaeologists to study the feature in some detail, again, which may help to pick up on things that had previously been missed.

It has to be a patient process, but is certainly helped by the good weather!

Mia, demonstrates her steady planning hand!

And the result of that hard work is sections such as these. The different layers are called contexts, each of which is given an number and then described on a separate context sheet. All this information is then deposited in the Elmet archive, so it can be studied at a later date when we write the post-excavation report.

Meanwhile, on Base Three (as it is now called), Kate demonstrates her skill as a furious Viking by mattocking a sondage on the edge of the structure.

The result of her hard work proved that there was a layer of clinker overlaying the natural geology which seemed to spread out quite far.

This can be seen in the section as a layer. We found more evidence of this later on, but we needed to know what was happening in this area, so this is why we put a small sondage in this place. Archaeology is about testing theories and sometimes the best way to do that is to dig a hole!

As this was going on, Lee continued to work around the edge of the base to expose the limits of the structure and to see if we could understand the construction process. From what he saw it looks like the area had been stripped down to the natural clay geology, then a layer of pebbles spread on the ground and finally the concrete base poured on top. This is the evidence that help us build up a picture of how these huts were constructed and adds to the history of the site.

On the other side of Base Three we had the visiting WEA students working. As mentioned before, there was a layer of clinker which seemed to spread around the edge of the base, so we wanted to see how wide the spread was and if we could make sense of it.

The guys from the WEA cleared the topsoil off the until they came down onto the clinker and followed it where it lay. We did this in a methodical way so that we could record it easier when the time came.

They worked in a line and cleared a large area in a very short time! Their hard work was very much appreciated!

Appreciated not just for the physical work, but for the archaeology as well! About three meters from the base they found this line of stones, with the clinker layer laid up against it. This was obviously some kind of kerb for the clinker and we had a discussion as to what it could be. Some of us thought it could be a small garden laid out by the prisoners in their spare time, some of us thought it could be a road running by the side of the hut:

Then we had a look at the wartime map of the pre-POW army camp which Elmet have acquired and we could see that Base Three is marked as 'Transport Officer' and even more interestingly the line of the road runs exactly where we found the line of stones! On the map below it is the tiny line just were the hut is marked in a red circle. (Base Four is also on the map marked inside the green circle):

The guys from the WEA also turned up some nice artefacts as they were clearing off the topsoil. One, we were unable to identify, it's made out of metal and is about three centimetres long, if anyone knows what it is, please let us know:

Along with this we also discovered two J shaped pegs, which are used for bracing things like corrugated roofs or walls. It is difficult to say precisely if these came from the hut, but there is little other reason that they would be in this area. Also we found a small metal bottle top, possibly aluminium or tin.

So we had a good day on Friday, now we're all itching to get back onto site on Monday to continue the work!

If you are interested in joining us, please feel free to come along, just let us know you are coming, or you can follow us here on Facebook and Twitter.

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