Wednesday, 23 July 2014

23 July 2014, Hickleton Hall POW Project Day 3

We had another scorching day today, which also allowed us to be really busy on site. In the morning we had a visit from the Oaks Day Care Centre History Group. First, they laid out tapes for the geophysical survey in the woods.

Then helped us with the actual survey, taking it in turns to use the resistivity array.

They came for lunch with us back at HQ then spent the afternoon clearing off the topsoil from the next hut base we intend to record, number seven.

Meanwhile, Philip continued his recording of the summer-house remains.

And back at hut base six, another sondage was opened. A sondage is small trench intended to answer a specific question. This was dug at the western end of the concrete base to see if there was another entrance to the building along with the one we found yesterday.

Jonathan and Sue worked hard to reduce the level of this small trench down to the cinder paths and this is still a work in progress!

With the brick step we found yesterday it was decided to open the western sondage a little bit more, so the length was increased to two meters long. This revealed more bricks and something more surprising!

The brick step was bounded by two sandstone block kerbs, both of which appeared to enclose a small patch of garden soil. It is not unheard of that the huts in the camps were surrounded by a small plot of garden, to make them look nice. It appears that this is what we have here!

There was the also the remains of a cinder pathway leading into the hut's entrance, so all these features needed recording. We stopped excavation at this point and began the drawing and writing descriptions of all the archaeological features.

As all this activity was going on, Ant and Martin began work on a small feature associated with hut base six. It was a long concrete rectangular pit that needed investigation.

As the soil was cleared from the hole it became clearer that it was a vehicle inspection pit, one where a vehicle would drive over the top and a man would work in, without having to raise the vehicle off the ground.

This made sense as we know the huts by the side of this feature were for the transport personnel, so they were living and working in close proximity. As more of the feature was revealed it became apparent that it had been constructed with corrugated iron sheeting, with mixed concrete poured into a pre-dug hole. The corrugated iron had either been removed or rotted away, but its impression was still there.

We also found the remains of an vehicle axle that had been dumped in the backfill of the pit. 

Then this small feature was cleaned and photographed. It's quite important to record this, as it does not appear on a war time plan of the map that we have seen.

There was also some graffiti scratched into the concrete as it was drying, it's difficult to make out but it possibly says 'H I HILIES' and 'J D'. Possibly the men who poured the concrete. We wondered if they ever thought their names would become part of an archaeological excavation!

The vehicle pit was fully recorded by Ant, Martin and Lauren then we had to back fill the feature in case any cows fell in it over night!

So, we had a really busy day with a lot happening today. Following on from the button that was found yesterday, our friend, 'Concrete' Chris Kolonko confirmed that it is from a 'Collarless Shirt Other Ranks'; The official designation of an army undershirt. Kate Brown also found some time to make a drawing of the button and here it is:

Thanks for reading today's entry, stay tuned for more updates tomorrow as we forge ahead with the work, also check out our Twitter and Facebook for more updates on Elmet and what we are up to!

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