Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Cash in the Bank Barrow

Members walking along the BB to hear Vaughan's theory

A storm was a'comin' but the Dorset Diggers are never put off by a bit of wind! So we went to the Bank Barrow of Martinsdown. Identified by O.G.S. Crawford in 1938 this is a long bank of 195m x 20m with parallel ditches 4.5m wide x 0.7m deep. Dating is difficult, but generally they are considered to be middle Neolithic. There are no primary burials, unlike the Long Barrows of similar, but smaller design. 65m from the north eastern end is a V-shaped depression appearing to divide the mound into two unequal parts and may or may not be contemporary. There are only a handful recognised in the UK and we have most of them, including ones at Pentridge, Broadmayne and Maiden Castle. Nearby are other mounds, a long barrow and the Poor Lot round barrow cemetery. They are a mystery, but our member Vaughan has a very good mathmatical theory to do with using the mound to line up on various points in the landscape so as to predict the appearance of celestial bodies on the horizon.

Members on the BB with a round barrow to right
Our next visit will be to Maiden Castle 24th November.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Another day, another tray

Our first site has produced quite a lot of finds. Mostly 19th/20th century. They have to be washed, catalogued, bagged and boxed up ready for storing. Some of the flint will have to be checked out by an expert and the best examples will be drawn and used in the report. It is possible that some of it will be prehistoric, perhaps Neolithic and Bronze Age, and thus a very important part of Maiden Newton's past.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Parish Pits

Started digging the vicar's garden today. Pics to follow. A good chance to train members in stratigraphy and recording techniques; and we may find something too!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Post Ex Drift

Started on the finds processing today. We have already finished the glass and pottery and the next job is tile and flint plus sorting out the metal artefacts. Pictures to be put up as soon as they dry off and sorted. All to be put into the report to be published here and on our website.


Successful meeting with a Dorset landowner relating to the site we wish to investigate next year. All to be revealed!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Ham Hill - heads you lose

Further to our Ham Hill visit (see below) the excavation by Cambridge and Cardiff universities has come to a close. One of the more unusual finds has been a row of human heads and other remains showing cutmarks indicating defleshing.

First indications are showing that the hill was already settled in the early Neolithic, with pits dating from 4000-3000BC and a network of fields from the the middle Bronze Age of c.1500BC. This must mean that the hill was seen as a good place to live and grow crops well before the hillfort was constructed.

By the Late Bronze Age or very Early Iron Age (c.800BC) massive earth ramparts were being thrown up 3-4m high which were encased by stone c.300BC. The area of the excavation was focused on a large enclosure nearly 100m long, but with little evidence of activity within it. It did surround a hollow and in the north-east corner six human heads were found laid in a line in the ditch about 1m apart. The remains of neck bones indicate that they were buried as complete heads and not defleshed skulls. With other human remains being found here it is likely that this was not a settlement but a ritual space. This further underlines the theory that hillforts were sacred spaces and not just for defense.

It is sure that more insights into this largest of hillforts will be published in the near future.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Drifting off...

The end has come to the Drift Road excavation and we have reinstated the site leaving the tops of the walls showing for all the tourists that will flock to see the next best thing to Pompeii!

Ben, Dave, Vaughan and Richard wack into the spoil heap

Alison & Angela tipping and tapping

The Flint Knapping & Soil Tapping Social Club outing!

The Drift has been an excellent first project for us and a great success for the village of Maiden Newton. We have had a village hall exhibition and now we have a small exhibition in the village cafe coming up, with photos and text. 

Our next project is the training dig in the vicarage garden and then the BIG ONE in the Spring of 2014. Keep looking in for more Dorset archaeological news.  

Wednesday, 2 October 2013


DDCAG now has a functioning website where you can see all our activities and pictures as well as being able to leave comments and questions. See the latest news of our visit to Eggardon Hill Iron Age hillfort. Just put Dorset Diggers into a search engine and you will find us.