The working conditions here at Hillgrove were damp underfoot today after quite a bit of rain fell earlier in the week, but it remained sunny and dry throughout the day for us to excavate.

T09, at the far end of the orchard was worked on by Tina and Julie trying to get the soil down to 40cm. Terry continued on with T16 (at 80cm) where most of its rubble has now gone. In the sondage that he created last week in the southern half he found the soil is getting harder, almost reaching sandstone quality. There are a few finds still coming out, mainly through sieving, which is to be expected being located so near the house. Ian is still trying to perfect his automatic sieving system!

T12 is a new Test pit, opened up today just north of the workshops and under some damson trees, which made it a nice shady spot out of the hot sun for Keith and Sam to work. Tina had already metal detected this area and found bits of metal. A sprinkling of finds were recovered by the end of the day, with the base of a Black glazed pot standing out among the usual mix of Victorian pottery.

Many thanks to Andy, Keith’s friend for bringing his Drone. So now we have both stills and a movie of the site, which is amazing!

Meanwhile Francesca did more research at the Hive and also got us a WSM number. Last week she had returned Paul’s property deeds and papers, which she examined and noted down anything of historical interest or relevance for our use.

She was with Rob Hedge when he examined all the flints recently found on our site. There were 5 of note, some flakes, apparently covering periods prehistoric 10,000 BC onwards & c 1500 BC, Mesolithic/early Neolithic (10,000 – 3,000 BC) Mesolithic to Bronze age 10,000 – 700 BC.


The temperature was over 35c on the Winnall Mill site today with little accompanying breeze to cool the volunteers down. So everyone was grateful for the relative shade of the overhead trees.

As some members were on holiday the numbers were low, but meant that more could stay for the whole session. Chris first helped Margaret to take some more measurements from the datum for the drawings, then he measured the rest of the accessible bricks requested by Murray. Keith continued with the spoil heap trench and was joined later by Ian armed with his new sieve set.

In the afternoon Francesca and Tina joined in with the sieving of soil from this and last week’s session to reveal a mix of finds including some leather. Meanwhile Margaret continued to clear the area on the walkway and uncover more of the gutter with its angled row of mortared tiles backed by bricks forming the start of the roof. Chris hopes to calculate the angle of the whole roof from this.

Another day spent in the peaceful setting of Winnall Mill where it was so quiet that we could hear the carp surfacing for air on the nearby pond and a heron fluttering past as we worked.

It was dry, although rain was forecast. Noelle and Margaret returned to the Walkway to complete the section above the Outhouse to reveal more of the drainage and gulley. It was an extension of an earlier trench that showed the mortared roof tiles all neatly lined up at an angle to form the basis for the start of the roof. More gutter parts were also found here amid the tangles of weeds and roots. Since lots of the original red roof tiles were also uncovered in this section, this area has probably not seen the light of day since the roof finally collapsed.

In the afternoon, while Julie finished off in the Cartshed trench, Francesca, Ian and Tina continued working on the LoadingBay trench that cuts through the mound. As promised, Ian had produced a magnificent sieve set that is just the job to sort out this area. Francesca and Tina helped to sieve the soil from this trench and the latter also used her metal detector to find some interesting pieces among it.

Wednesday was the driest day in the whole week so those who attended felt lucky to be able to get outside and do some excavating. Some of our members were still grabbing a very welcome late summer holiday, maybe for the first time this year, so numbers were low but manageable within the social distancing rules.

Francesca, Sam and Tina were focussed on T25 cutting through what is either a heap of spoil or simply debris from surrounding buildings bull-dozed up there sometime in the past. Judging by the collection of finds at the end of the day, especially after seiving and metal detecting, it seems likely that this particular section of the heap may not have been examined before. The other reason for this trench was, of course, to examine the floor underneath, this area being where the carts delivering corn would have arrived and manoeuvred round into position for loading and unloading.

Julie and Margaret continued up on the Walkway to clear the area near the gulley and the start of the rear roof, where a good collection of tiles and mortar is still being found in amongst the undergrowth and quite close to their original location.  This is hard going, being a 10 - 20cm deep solid mat of material, but the path is gradually revealing its secrets.