For a change today's indoor activity consisted of several different aspects of finds processing. Usually the first one is to wash the finds, which Tina is seen doing below. Sometimes only when the dirt and mud is removed does it becomes obvious that what we previously thoughtwas a piece of pot was actually a piece of stone. Or the scruffy looking object when cleaned up proves to be a little gem of a find!
After the finds have dried they are weighed (which is what Keith was doing below on the right) and this, along with the item's description and location on site, is recorded onto a database to be included in the final report.
But today we went two stages further. Like last week, we separated more of the finds into material types for our expert to examine and, for the purposes of finally archiving, we also labelled up finds related to the reports that are nearing completion. This process involves the use of a fine pen and black or white ink to write on the find itself a code that relates to the site where it first originated from. This enables it to be easily traced back to its source should it become separated at any stage from the rest of the collection. (The reader will have noticed similar writing on artefacts in museums.)
After a week of heavy rain today it was foggy to start with and gradually cleared throughout the day until by mid afternoon the sun finally appeared. But this was too late for our team who came to finish off the testpits started a few weeks back and who found the clayish soil now rather sticky to trowel. Test pit 011below had a sondage dug into it after the featureless clay level was hit. Several contexts down the excavators working on that pit came a cross some land drains (seen in corner of photo below) and it was agreed the extend it further in an southerly direction.
A trench was then dug to expose even more of these drains, which were in short sections with their joints supported on a tile. Some of the drains were stamped, but most of them were in the sorry state as seen below.
A third, smaller test pit was also dug slightly further south where these land drains are seen to continued.After this last testpit was completed all three were recorded and drawn by Sam and Margaret and then backfilled.
Testpit 12 nearby (with the rabbit hole) was also competed by Noelle, Tina and Terry which included finally removing the mole trap. What looked like several nice flagstones and a large red tile with patterning on it were also removed. This testpit was then also recorded and back-filled, which was not easy with the clay sticking to all of our boots!
Today our members attended a training session on recording Contexts sheets with a view to later creating a Matrix from them. Murray Andrews (a member and qualified Archeologist) kindly agreed to present the Powerpoint seen below and clearly explained how these worked. (Most of us would agreed that it stretched our minds!)
So, hopefully, next time we are "out in the field" this talk will have given everyone a better understanding of not only how to fill in our context sheets with great detailed and accuracy, but also appreciate the overall site beyond the one trench we happen to be working on at the time.
Another busy day was spent indoors with the group cleaning and weighing finds mostly from recent excavations which had been kept safely in storage. It was a proper little "production line" with the five ladies shown here, including the return to the fold of a former member Tina, all washing and cleaning pottery and glass as well as brushing off the mud and dirt from metal and bone (items seldom washed) seen in the photo below.
A bigger group than usual came today (around eleven) which was great and provided a chance to catch up on news. Some folk who had been unable to come for a while told us they knew what we were doing because they had been following us on this website, which was good to hear.
Once the finds are clean and dry they are weighed and counted (above by Keith and Ian) and handwritten into a form or table. Francesca, also seen here, next puts that information onto a data base. At the weighing and counting stage it is sometimes the first opportunity to thoroughly examine the finds and to determine their age, make, type, etc. Francesca likes to gather as much detail as possible on every item, so it's important for the forms to be as accurate and descriptive as possible as it will eventually go into a report. Since we are a mainly amateur group, days like this are also a good opportunity for members to learn more about what they've been handling on site and sometimes become sufficiently inspired as to go away and do their own research.
Lunch time and, while everyone tucks into Terry's yummy homemade soup, there is a chance to discuss the group's projects for the forthcoming year. Another topic was that, having found an alternative storage place for our finds, we must try to arrange for a working party to go and prepare the venue first.