Trench1 Week 2

The whole of trench 1 has now been trowelled to clean the surface of the soil. Because of this we have been able to recognise more possible postholes related to the building or buildings identified last year. At the end of the 1998 season we had excavated numerous postholes and pits which we interpreted as being from at least one timber structure, probably more, with a south-east facing entrance (see last years' excavation diary). We're hoping that during this season we may be able to add to the somewhat confusing pattern recognised last year - but whether this will make things clearer or even more confusing only time will tell! The 'new' postholes are yet to be excavated and more news on what they turn out to be will follow next week.

A tour party looking at Trench1 whilst one of the supervisers tries to keep a low profile "Planning" the complex of features on Trench 1


The major news this week has been the excavation of a deposit of clay situated towards the centre of the building which covers an area approximately 1 metre across. Last week we suggested this might be a hearth because there was evidence for burning. Even prior to its excavation we could see that it contained some charcoal and burnt stones, while the magnetic susceptibility survey conducted at the end of last year gave significantly higher readings for this area than elsewhere in the trench. Such readings can be indicative of areas where there has been a fire or where burnt material has been dumped. This week we have started excavating this deposit and have found that it contains small amounts of cremated bone as well as charcoal and burnt stones, and that it covers a small pit. At present we can't tell whether the bone is human or animal. The pit contains several fills, some of which have more burnt bone. Stones have also been set in the pit itself and show evidence for burning. Under the clay deposit and positioned around one side of the pit we are beginning to find a row of small stakeholes.

The debated hearth/cremation feature in its initial phase of excavation One of the reddened burned stones from the feature (place mouse over image)


During the initial stages of excavation of this feature we wondered whether it was a hearth or the funerary remains of a human cremation buried below the building's floor, a feature we found in the building we dug in 1995 and 1996 . However, if it was a cremation you would expect the pit to contain a consolidated fill of charcoal and bone rather than a series of distinct fills with varying small amounts of bone. The variation in the pit fill suggests that the feature is a hearth rather than a cremation, and we should be able to say more about its interpretation when the pit is fully excavated.

Further excavation around the feature reveals a series of stakeholes The feature in the wider context of the trench, towards the end of the second week (place mouse over image)

On to Week 3...

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