Well week 9 basically consisted of a lot of cess digging!
To begin with it was pretty slow going as the top the of the feature had very badly preserved wicker. We were trying our hardest not to destroy this already badly decayed wood as it would help us define the edge of the feature. From the context photo you can roughly see the edge of the pit but it wasn’t always that obvious!
It was obviously an important feature so we wanted to ensure that the records were kept up to date with it as there was always the chance the pit could collapse or the wicker might fall off! We were giving new context numbers for any layers that looked different than before and sampled each of those. We also took out around 20 10L samples of cessy material for it to be freeze dried and eventually put on display somewhere as there was so much interesting archaeology to be found within the sludge…..
Once the top of the feature had been settled on it was on to digging down. This was a very painstaking job as the wicker was very decayed. It took clay tools and some very patient trainees to get this going. When it did, it started to look great!
Although very badly preserved, we had hoped that further down the wicker would be in a much better condition as the dimensions of the pit would suggest it was likely to go quite deep. We could only hope….. and keep digging!
It kept us very busy! Too busy for photos…..
More on the pit soon…..
Ah week 8…. the now infamous week….
This week saw the creation of the new Time Team. OK not really. Phil Harding visited the site this week as part of a Time Team special on Vikings (out next year) which included the Hungate site. Having a film crew on site was really exciting and great fun for the trainees who were really encouraged by it. I have to admit that occassionally the filming can be a nuisance as noise had to be kept to an absolute minimum to avoid any disturbance to the microphones. This often meant the new skill of ‘imaginary trowelling’ had to be carried out to look as though you were doing something when in actual fact you were trowelling air. Yes…. tedious!
The crew worked well with everyone else though and there were no major bust ups! Meeting Phil was a highlight too – he’s such a lovely guy!
They filmed a lot inside HQ due to the vast amount of finds we had stored. The best had to be the antler.
For the sake of filming we laid out a table full of all the bits of antler that had come from Pitzilla. The pieces ranged from large often complete unworked antlers….
Through the various different stages of working……
And ended with some rather nice combs!
I started work on a smaller feature within Pitzilla this week with my two trainees, which looked to be a rounded pit with a possible wicker lining. The feature was uncovered after a very thorough clean up of the area after some very heavy rain.
The photo above shows the pit once it had been cleaned which revealed a number of features. The circular pit we started working on can be seen roughly in the centre of the photo, you can pick it out by following the browny wicker lining. A number of timbers were also uncovered at one end of the pit.
Although it was fun to excavate there often wasn’t enough room! The photo below shows my two trainees and myself excavating the pit whilst the time team crew film another two archaeologists revealing some timbers that were being lifted from the soil.
Once excavation really got underway the pit began to get much more exciting! The preservation levels were so high that there was a lot of organic material still surviving in the soil. Due to the good preservation we began to heavily sample. Green leaves, moss, nuts and seeds, and even some hair was found! As exciting as it was it was hard to ignore the horrific smell!
Joined the York training dig on their 7th week and luckily brought the sunny Scottish weather with me. Most of the week was spent getting to know the site and all the archaeology and breaking in the new trainees. 🙂
The site at Hungate is roughly split into three areas with, separated by stone deposits which are thought to be plot boundaries of some sort. This year I was drafted to Elena’s area which was in the middle of the site with Artemi and Ben working on either side. Ben’s lot were excavating a Viking building which was uncovered towards the end of the training dig last year.
The photo shows the building being cleaned up to get a better idea of what was going on.
Artemi also had what looked like a possible building! No building in Elena’s area but that’s not to say it wasn’t as exciting!
A large medieval pit, later nicknamed Pitzilla, was right in the middle of our area. This feature was packed with finds including a large quantity of antler. Nearby to Pitzilla there was a lot of diesel contaminated soil which had spread over some features making them difficult to excavate. Most of the week was spent cleaning that up!
Weather was great for the week considering the team had apparently been rained off for several days before I arrived. Although it did nothing to improve my tan lines. Damn high vis vests……
Spent the dig without any internet access 😦 so my mission to blog regularly has failed miserably!
York was great fun as usual though my time digging strangely focused around toilets….. From Viking cess pits to Victorian limestone chambers.
Have loads to write about York and millions of pics that I’ll add. Frantically trying to find a flat before postgrad starts.
Wish me luck!
Well arrived in York without a hitch and have settled into the university accommodation nicely. Great folk here already, some new and old faces. Looking forward to seeing the site tomorrow and wondering how much it has changed. Might not get much of a chance to get my hands dirty tomorrow as it’ll be orientations and lectures and the like before hand. Still, can’t wait to get stuck in (fingers crossed the health stays ok in the meantime!)
My Internet dongle fails to get a signal here so I’m currently using the very dodgy iPhone 3G to get online. It’s pretty slow and hard to use for blogging! Will be sorting out a better connection using the university connection but might take a few days. Will update tomorrow on the first day back on site!