Sunday, 26 October 2014

End of Trench 2

Digging the ditch in Trench 2 came to an end this week and it has been photographed and recorded.

By chance we have dug in an area where there is a 'causeway' of natural stone that has been left in situ. It looks as if two gangs have been working toward each other and left this stone in place, as the lower cut coming in from below this picture is different to the one coming in from above. Also the one above has a series of indentations which could be interpreted as the workmen using metal spikes to lever out the stone, while the lower excavation is more flat based. Why did they leave this 'causeway'? It is not flush with the surface, so could not be used as an access to the interior of the enclosure.

We did not find any pottery in this part of the ditch fill, so dating will be problematic. We did find a couple of flint blades and cores, but these are difficult to date and could be residual anyway. It is hoped that we may be able to dig another trench in the New Year and find more artefacts for dating. The initial interpretation is that this may be a Roman marching camp rather than an Iron Age enclosure. Without further excavation that is all we can say at the moment.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Cash & Community?

The Council for British Archaeology (CBA) sent me a letter today. They say that their core funding source has been withdrawn, although they fail to mention where that comes from, assuming that everyone knows this. I can only assume it is from government. They are asking members (professional archaeologists and non) to make a donation on top of the subs already paid. Needless to say archaeologists are on one of the lowest, if not the lowest, wages for those with a degree. Cuts are going to be made to teams in local planning departments relating to heritage, professional archaeologists have fallen from c.7,000 to 4,000 in the last 5 years and 'new blood' coming through the universities has also fallen in numbers. So that source of funding is also going to drop. Archaeology as a profession is dying and some of us have seen it coming for years (I've been in the job since 1990). The changes to local heritage provision, the privatisation of the job (from local government to private 'units') and low, low wages have all contributed to this. One of the main causes is the lack of effort to gain support from communities, but this is a chicken and egg situation i.e. money needs to be put into this effort but we don't have the money. But also it is how to go about it. 
What does and can archaeology do for you? Are we willing to pay for it?

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Scratch that ditch

We began to dig the ditch in Trench 2 today and made good progress, although no pot has has come up, but we did find some nice flint and some bone.
Hopefully we can find some pot and have a definitive date for this feature which we can then match with the ditch in Trench 1.

We are currently doing some research on Roman military sites and find that they are only rarely excavated and when they are finds are at a premium, so Trench 1 on our site may provide a rare chance to add to Roman studies in the British Isles. We have been asked to add our report to the Oasis website, where lots of 'grey literature' (site reports) can be accessed. We are also planning to write a more readable account of our season of digging at Nether Compton, so look out for information on that here.