In the photo S.W.A.G are shown doing the initial geophysical survey of the Russell Pipe kiln's location in Cripplegate Park. For over 50 years this bottlekiln had produced claysmoking pipes for local people (both men and women) to fill with tobacco. The manufacturer's name was even stamped on it. This site was well known, being positioned according old map close to other associated buildings as well as workers living quarters.
The team receive a briefing
A team of volunteers, mostly from Northwag, were brought in to help out for a whole week by opening and excavting the three necessarytrenches. On the basis that the subterranean remains of the bottle kiln had been accurately located, after a quick briefing from Site Director Roger Moore, two targetted trenches were then dug to find the circular edge. Most of the first layers of each trench were filled with general building material, which was not surprising since the area had been flattened back in the 1960s. In the 1800s John Russell is believed to have built a row of 20 houses there (Russell Terrace) where many of the kiln’s workers lived. Even so, among these were found numerous pieces of pipe and other finds that according to our expert on hand, Malcolm, hinted at the definite presence of a former kiln.
Roger Moore pointing to photo of similar kiln at Broseley Pipeworks in Shropshire
By Wednesday the work was only halfway through, so hopefully there will be an update about this exciting dig by our next newsletter.
A mixture of sunshine and cloud today, so cooler. The ground was still damp from overnight rain, which Julie found in T06 made for a sticky surface in the clayish soil to work with in context 003.
Ian in T15 had reached context 004 and, as the test pit yielded few finds, the decision was made to do a sondage of one third. Towards the end of the day Terry brought an auger across and took it down even deeper in one corner of the third.
One of Paul’s boys had earmarked a sloping area near a buttercups patch as a place of interest, so Roger worked there in T08, discovering a few finds including a piece of clay tobacco pipe. Ironic in view of his work at Cripplegate the other year! Roger left early, so Paul decided to join in here and scrape off a few more layers. A budding archaeologist in the making!
After Margaret had recorded some pit locations and drawn the sections of T07, Keith kindly filled the latter in. Meanwhile Tina did some sieving and metal detecting of each open test pit and spoil heap, while Francesca sorted and cleaned some more finds down by the building, where we’ve been allowed to store our tools and finds temporarily.
Finally the flint found by Tina last week while detecting the lawn near the house was, photographed so that it could be sent to an expert to examine and possibly date it.
A busy day all round. Well done team!
Eight members turned up today for another session to assist the Cathedral team in excavating the long courtyard drainage trench (as seen below). Although the infill is a combination of soil and CBM that's been mixed up over the years so that the contents are no longer in their original context (if ever they were), a variety of finds from the different eras have come to light, including bones, tiles, slag and pottery.
A northerly view of the trench.
According to Chris Guy, the archaeological site director, a known building once stood here and the particular area being worked above is the kitchen area, with the dining area located to the left of the photo. So perhaps it's not surprising that a number of animal bones have been found!
Two of the many items after cleaning.
Since several stones at this end of the Trench were found arranged together with the remains of mortar between them, the possibility of wall crossing the trench is now being investigated.
Investigating the possibility a of wall.
This proved to be a very changeable day with sunshine and showers.
Test Pit 9 was opened today by Ian and Keith. This trench lies at the far north east of the site, adjacent to the boundary and the sunken road. Due to the recent rain the ground was still quite wet here. They took it down to context 003 or 20cm, where the layer of stones common to the site soon appeared. Among the finds were some bottle glass, pottery and a small metal casement latch. At the end of the day they backfilled T14 which was now completed and fully recorded.
In Test Pit 8 Roger took it further down to context 004 where he soon came upon a large noticeable area of charcoal amongst the reddish sandy clay. Some Pottery and glass was also found.
Sam continued with Test Pit 6, which several members have worked on in the past. This had been taken to context 005 (40cm) by Julie last week, so Sam removed another layer of dark sandy clay from the southern half of the pit going down to 50cm, with little more of interest found. It will probably be backfilled next week.
Francesca cleaned and sort finds and Margaret took photos and kept a record of all activities, while Terry took a walk down along the stream. Meanwhile Tina did her usual metal detecting in and around the test pits and helped with some sieving.
Needless to say that the forecast rain eventually stopped play.