Saturday, 10 August 2013

Unofficial update on barby hill excavation: end of week 1

A quick update on the Barby Hill excavation:

So far the going has been slow, and, alas, nothing of interest has been found. Having said that, we only managed one day out on site and we have only just reached what we believe to be the original surface of the soil from 20 years ago, since it was buried by a load of spoil from the construction of a nearby reservoir! That turned out to be a depth of approximately half a metre. Hopefully in the next few days we will get some features, and more importantly, some finds, by digging just a little further under the surface!

So why did we choose this particular area to excavate, rather than take on a more promising piece of archaeology from the survey, like a roundhouse which was picked up in the survey results? Well, as mentioned in my previous update (which can be found here) the ground in the area has been used for livestock (mainly cows). Last winter was very bad; one guy saw the cows go up to their bellies in mud because there was so much rain and snow!! Because cows hooves are very strong and each one has to share the weight of half a ton of very rare meat, this is going to damage the archaeology underneath if it can go down a certain distance. so in normal circumstances, we would dig a more important feature. But we fear that the chance has already gone, because we believe the archaeology is very close to the surfvace. Furthermore, the patch that we are excavating is right next to a reservior, that is due to be expanded next year, onto the patch of land that we are excavating on. In Britain, we call the work that we are doing "rescue archaeology" because we are in a race against time to excavate what is there before it is irreversibly destroyed!

So what do we expect to find? Well, a survey from a little while back done by Cotswold Archaeology produced a survey which has produced a possible Iron Age ditch just under our excavtion, part of a (proably contemporary) complex of ditches and roundhouses (a picture of which is available here). What the picture doesn't show you is that there is another circular feature near to the Cotswold Archaeology survey, close to where we are excavating! So we could hit evidence for Iron Age settlement very soon...

Furthermore, the BHAP have undertaken some field walking and discovered a roman coin on a slope, within this "complex". Could this be a village that existed during the roman period? I'm yet to be convinced, but the site manager is more optimistic.

On a more practical note a small tent has been erected for the use of the archaeologists, so now they have some shelter for when it rains!

Stay tuned for next week's site update, which will hopefully contain more than just conjecture...

links (that don't redirect to my blog):

Hatton, May 2012, Archaeology at Barby Hill: part 3, self-published

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