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!

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