The Northwag team returned to help with the excavating at the Cathedral, but since Archaeologist Chris Guy now has quite a back log of recording to do, some were assigned to other jobs too. Sam worked inside, in the under croft, to clear away the builder's rubble which was started last week, and expose the features here, seen in photo below. A very dusty task!
There is still some debate about what these features represent.
Meanwhile, away from the heat of the sun and the dust, finds washing continues.
We met up yet again in Chris and Lindsay's Conservatory on Wednesday to do more Finds Processing, which is the very necessary process of preparing finds for eventual archiving and also recording them for inclusion in the accompanying report. We had a good turn out today with around eleven members, as well as a new member, Shelagh present. It was a good, hard working session with plenty to discuss and pure concentrate (how serious we all look!)
Every find has to be cleaned up for examination by experts, a short description being given to say what they were, how many there were, their weight and, equally importantly, where they were found in the ground (i.e. their Context). In many situations, especially where the soil has remained undisturbed for centuries, this can help to determine their age and reveal human activity on the site over a single or multiple periods.
This is very exactingactivity, which means that it is important not to muddle either the finds (placed in their separate bags and labelled from the outset) or to muddle their locations during this process. It also depends on having already maintained good records about trenches and contexts during excavation, hence the necessary use on site of Context sheets. Over the coming weeks we will also use this time to attend training session for other aspects of archeaology, so members please be sure to check the Web's events diary.
Many thank to Terry and Francesca for organising the walk which included a guided tour of the Astley area and some background history of its industrial past.
In the Lower Dick Brook Valley, Astley
The group (and animals) at lunch time near Astley Forge Mill
View of the Upper Flash Lock on Dick Brook, Astley
Winter is a good time to catch up with things that we don't always find time to do during the digging season. As mentioned in the past, Finds Processing is one of those necessary activities. Besides, staying in the warm and dry when its raining stair-rods outside or a thick hoar frost covers the landscape well into the afternoon, it's often preferable!
The last two weeks in January were also spent doing some training, especially helpful to any of our new and/or inexperienced members. The first week we looked at what paperwork needs to be done before a spade or trowel can even touch the site. This involves lots of things going on in the background, such as contacting the landowner and gaining their written permission to even survey the site, a WSM (Worcester Sites and Monuments) number needing to be obtained from WAAS and lots of desk based research and non-invasive investigations to establish if an actual excavation would achieve the best results. Only then can a project design be written, explaining the group's intentions and methods, and presented to the landowner for their approval.
During the second week of training we looked at the necessity of keeping good records, useful for both those in charge and for the diggers. The object of this exercise was for each member to understand what documentation was required of them week by week to avoid muddles with things like trenches & contexts. Poor paper records can have a knock-on affect both during the dig and after, when all the information is gathered together for analysis and the final report can be written. Then there are the preparations for archiving.....
This week, the weather being fine, we donned our wellies and went to view an interesting site near Feckenham that recently caught the attention of one of our members. This activities involved walking around the site ( a field) to assess its potential using the information we already had to hand and including more kindly provided by the helpful landowner, as well as looking at the surrounding locality. Even if nothing more came of this, with different people spotting different features, it was an interesting exercise on how to view the landscape.