Lots of discussion about last year's finds, both from field-walking and excavation.
Another indoor finds processing session, again staying indoors out of the cold! But March is just around the corner and soon we will be out and about, once Gareth and Terry have compiled a plan for the year. There's the possibility of lots going on then, so members need to look out for the notifications from Terry.
As the finds from Winnall Mill, our long term dig site, are now all processed and recorded, the above team turned their attention instead to recording finds from elsewhere, getting excited about a small collection of Roman artefacts found during field-walking. (No Samian pottery yet, though!) Then there is always the game of "guess what the object is", especially if it's a piece of corroded metal or some abraded pottery. If in doubt the team has in the past been known to seek the advice of the wonderful expert archaeologists at the Hive.
Before lunch Liz, Jennie and Margaret went through the "best finds" for all the seasons of Winnall to determine which items best represented the mill and its history when they are eventually archived. Due to storage space this is always limited, so the smaller finds are often the best choice.
Finds from Astely Forge Mill Cottage. A potter lived there for a while in the 20th century, so the above fairly modern-looking pot might have been one of his.
Due to other committments, only a small number of us met today for finds processing. So those who could make it continued washing, weighing and counting finds from past digs and fieldwalks. Ian and Margaret are seen weighing and recording onto forms the details that Francesca will later enter onto a database. Those details include site and finds location, the context, if it comes from a trench, item type and number and any other notable features. It's a good opportunity to take a closer look at these finds now they are free from dirt, mud or, in some cases, soot. Once piece of pottery that looked totally black with soot, when thoroughly cleaned turned out to be a nice piece of slipware.
Everyone was amused when, Tina using her trusty metal detector, first found the obviously homemade coat-hanger shown below on the Shelsey Furnace site. Today coathangers are almost two-a-penny, but not so back in the early 1900s when times were hard. When this artisanneeded something for his wife to hang her Sunday best frock on, he produced this item made of twisted double wire! It was actually quite heavy, but it probably did the trick.
One of our members who gives regular talks also kindly distributes our leaflets, so once Terry has printed off a number, Tina helps to fold them, as seen below.
Having measured and plotted the testpits, preparing to excavate.
Six members turned out for today’s training session, being done in preparation for a future joint project. This acted as both a refresher for some and an introduction to new aspects of archaeology for others and was a very "hands-on" experience. It involved everyone starting from the very beginning by measuring the field from an agreed temporary Bench Mark and then setting out and digging a series of test pits to a defined size and depth.
De-turfing the testpits
Often much of the preparation is done by the project manager and his or her assistant long before the excavators (human) appear on the scene. So this exercise was intended to introduce members to those earlier processes too so they would be better prepared for the above project, where they might have to work independently and perhaps even instruct someone else.
Working in pairs to excavate
In addition this training included the use of context sheets (seen above behind the bucket!) to accurately record what was found in each test pit. This is always an invaluable source of information for the archaeologists to analyse later (when memories have faded!) and it helps to build up a more complete picture of the site, as well as providing details of what was found and where.