Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Sutton Common Excavations Blog

As there are two blogs running for the Sutton Common excavations, it seems pertinent that we direct you to the official Wetland Archaeology and Environment Research Centre blog that details the findings as they occur during the excavations. You can find their blog HERE.

You can also find the Brodsworth Project blog HERE, for more information on the ongoing excavations there!

The Elmet blog will restart when we begin our next project, which won't be too long in the future!

In the meantime, you can still follow us on Facebook and Twitter which will keep you informed of our activities!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

06 August 2013, Sutton Common Project Day 2

This blog would have started on day one with this new project, but due to heavy rain yesterday nothing was done on site, so today was really the beginning of the project proper.

Sutton Common is a prehistoric landscape which has aspects of the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Iron Age periods. The stone age features are more ephemeral than the two large Iron Age enclosures which exist as scheduled monuments on the site.

This is the existing bank of one of the enclosures, which gives you an idea of the topography of the site:

And the accompanying bank,still very evident in the landscape:

So in short, this project is an attempt to characterise this landscape of prehistory. Cutting through the centre of the site is a large palaeochannel, which once held water and also appeared to be a good area for sustaining human life. It is still in evidence today as a massive hollow running through the field.

We had help from students from the Universities of Hull and Cardiff and the small team consisted off Malcolm, Chris, Alex, Kate, Sue, John, Matt and Naomi. We also had  visits from Howard the Mayor of Askern. There were also two site dogs for the time the farmer was present! Every site needs a dog or two!

To ease ourselves in and get our eyes trained we began the day with a field walking exercise on the ploughed field to the west of the monuments:

You can see that the land dips down steeply at the eastern end of the field (bottom of the picture), this is the edge of the palaeochannel and the land at the bottom of the slope is still damp:

It was on the edge of this slope that we found 25 flints! There seemed to be a concentration across the lip of the channel, indicating that ancient people had populated this area. On this photo the flags indicate the individual finds and you can see where the land drops off towards the channel, just where the wooded area is:

After lunch Malcolm had decided the areas where he wanted the testpits to go. This was in a raised area of the main field where Mesolithic activity had previously been identified through the discovery of a flint. So we laid out the grids and started the de-turfing process, one of the least favourite archaeological jobs...

It came off easily enough though and we could see the sub soil below the modern ground surface start to appear!

The fences were erected by the farmer to keep the cattle away from the trenches as we were working, it felt a little like being in a zoo!

Please don't feed the hungry archaeologists!

As we were more likely to find artefacts rather than features it was important to sieve all the spoil that was trowelled.

And it produced results! This flint flake was found in the sieve! That made 26 just today!

Here Matt and Sue do the enjoyable work of trowlling the testpit. We have to take the pits down in spits in case we come across any more artefacts.

Archaeology can be a glamorous job, as indicated by John's Jellybean underpants!

Tomorrow we will start work on the second test pit and maybe open a third in the ploughed field, hopefully the weather will stay as good as it has been!

If you are interested in visiting site, then all are welcome. We can't take any more volunteers unfortunately, but we're happy to talk to you about the site and the work, alternatively you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter which will keep you informed of our activities!

Friday, 2 August 2013

2 August 2013, Hickleton Hall POW Project Day 10

All good things must come to an end and the Hickleton Hall excavations are no exception! Today was the last day on site and we were joined by Chris, Alex, Phil, Kate, Sue, Martin, Russell, Sue, Anne, Michael, Helen, Lesley and Chris. A smaller team, but I think everyone else knew we'd be backfilling today, so avoided us like the plague!

There was still a little bit of levelling to do on Base Three, so Kate gave the team instructions on how to set up and use a dumpy level:

Then points across the top of the structures were measured using the staff:

These levels were all recorded and noted down. This will give us a height above sea level for the bases. Also we can use this to do a very basic topographical survey and to see how flat or sloped features and the ground may be.

Meanwhile Phil still had to finish of drawing Base One, he had Chris help him and they got through it pretty quickly.

Then the nasty job of backfilling had to start. There is not one archaeologist who enjoys this job. Anyone that tells you differently is lying. As the field is used by cattle we had to reinstate the bases to their original or close to original state.

Sometimes it is important to replace turfs as they were found, but in this case a good covering of earth was all that was needed as the grass and weeds will regrow soon anyway!

Base One had been used as a track for the tractor, so left this one quite uncovered which is how we'd found it. The tree trunks were dragged on to the bases to stop the cattle walking about on the concrete. Thankfully this wasn't such a big job and everything was finished and reinstated by 12.30, probably helped by the fact it was beautifully sunny and we didn't get one drop of rain all day!

And here is the team shot from the last day, the plucky few, the brave band of brothers (and sisters) who braved the backfilling! L-R Kate, Russell, Chris, Phil, Martin, Sue, Chris, Anne, Helen, Lesley, Sue, Alex and Michael.

We have finished at Hickleton Hall for now, but hopefully we can get funding to work here again next year, as there are questions still to be answered!

Having said that, Elmet Archaeological Services Ltd have many other projects in the future. If you are interested in joining us for any of them you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter which will keep you informed of our activities and forthcoming events!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

1 August 2013, Hickleton Hall POW Project Day 9

Another busy day on site today, we had the following crew: Chris, Alex, Kate, Phil, Peter, Martin, Helen, Jo, Sue, Martina, Sue, Anne, Robin, Nick, Anita, Lauren, Connor, Paul, Andy, Ange, Shona and Graham! It must be the good weather bringing everyone out to play! In the afternoon, we even had Kerry from the Rotherham Advertiser visiting for a photo opportunity!Unfortunately we lost Anita, Lauren and Connor early on as Connor was the victim of several wasp stings, hopefully he'll get better soon!

The geophysics team finished off more of the grids to the south of the site, until wasps and nettles put a stop to the work, unfortunately. But they have covered a large area of the site that was unknown to us, as it was off the edge of the map we have. Hopefully the results will show us if there are any hidden bases or camp features we don't know about!

The photographs of the rest of the features still needed to be taken so part of the morning involved the sweeping up of cow pats...

This work would have been made a lot easier by a couple of days of glorious sunshine, but we just don't have the time left to wait for good weather. So this is how Base Three looked after the cleaning, the photo is facing to the east.

And here to the west. You can see the entrance slabs and some of the damaged concrete in the bottom right corner.

The same jobs had to be applied to Base Two, along with finishing off some of the digging that we were unable to do yesterday due to the rain:

Such as this sondage that Phil excavated on the side of the base, another one to assess the construction methods used. The lip that was identified the other day on the west was also present on the east side, giving a uniformity to the structure.

Sue also cleaned up the northern pathway which led out of the second entrance of the hut. This had a much sharper turn than the other path to the south, but was made of the same concrete material:

There was a lot of leaf fall on the base, so Martina gave it a good brushing ready for the final photographs:

Robin was also given his first lesson in drawing a section.

It would appear that certain things are required to keep the Brodsworth Archaeological Project running, one of them is a regular supply of biscuits!

And finally, although this wasn't found on the site, Anita provided us with this picture of one of two bracelets (one was lost), made by a Polish internee at Hickleton Hall camp and give to her mother.

It has the names of Polish towns along the length of the chain. Unfortunately, we don't have any information on the man who made this, but he could have been one of the displaced persons who were present at the camp after the war! Another brilliant artefact from what has turned out to be an amazing site!

Unfortunately, tomorrow is our last day on site, but we have many other projects in the future. If you are interested in joining us for any of them you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter which will keep you informed of our activities and forthcoming events!