Thursday, 10 July 2014

Letting the machine take the strain

Day 1: stripping the topsoil.
After relocating the area where we wish to dig we had the machine start stripping the topsoil and subsoil. It is never easy judging the depth of the overburden and one just has to guess how deep we may have to go to locate the archaeology. The unevenness of the ground does not help. In this case the topsoil was 0.50m deep and then the subsoil added to this, to a depth of 1m. Being sloping ground it is likely that soil has built up over time since the ancient features were created leaving no trace on today's ground level.
One wonders if there is any archaeology at all, or if the trench has been put in the wrong place. Or, horror of horrors, the features have been dug out by stripping too deep!
With strong nerves and just a bit of experience the machine uncovered this large pit (1.50m dia.). Our first feature! Pits are always good news, as they have always been the ideal place to chuck rubbish, and of course rubbish is what archaeology is all about.
The pit was a bonus, because what we were hoping to find was this 3m wide ditch, which only came up by extending the trench beyond the 10m length we set out.
The trench is located just to the left of the B, so we have located the ditch section at the top plus the internal pit. As can be seen there are some internal features represented by black blobs. We may have time to extend the trench further into the ditched feature and locate more internal features.

Now we have to clean the base of the trench to look for smaller features and then start to dig them! Look in for more news on the Nether Compton site.

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