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Trench 6 Week 5


Final stages of excavation

Another trench we say goodbye to this week. Removal of the last remains of the stone field boundaries and cairns has led to a different interpretation to that posted last week. We now see the sequence as beginning with an oval clearance cairn created within a hollow between earthfast boulders and being situated within the lines of cairns forming a grid across the rectangular field.

The stone boundary viewed from the north... ...and from the south

 

Adjacent to the west of the cairn a stone boundary was built by adding lines of large boulders on top of each other. The boulders were carefully placed to give a stepped appearance from the north. While originally we thought these may have been placed along a natural scarp of earthfast boulders, their removal now shows that they were placed on a relatively flat ground surface. The difference in ground levels between the south and north of this boundary appears to be the result of later soil movement downslope. This soil has been trapped along the southern edge of the boundary to increase the ground level here. Horizontal layers of soil, different in soil colour and texture, can be seen and we have taken samples from each layer to analyse the soil structure and particle size later. From this we should be able to better understand how the increase in ground level has formed over time.

Above the cairn, and overlapping the eastern end of the 'stepped' boundary, a linear arrangement of stones aligned north to south was created. This was probably the result of stone clearance to ease cultivation and appears to have accrued in piecemeal fashion over time. Rather than being a formal bank on which to plant a hedge it most likely formed against an existing hedge or fence.

The visible remains of the boundary after backfilling

 


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