Another very hot day (about 26 degrees) at Hillgrove, where our team was all keen to start some new Test-pits that were already strimmed and marked out by Terry in accordance with the field plan. Test-pits 01 & T02 had been closed and back filled last week, so our new ones were Test-pits 05, 06 & 07, slightly out of order because of their locations. Thankfully two of these were in the shade!

We were joined this week by Julie & Murray. Chris also came along for a while, but due to other commitments could not stay all day.

Julie and Ian de-turfed T05, which was rather chocked up with tree roots. They dug down 3 contexts, finding little of interest on the way except numerous pebbles and some broken brown glass in the latter context.

 In T06 Murray, Tina and Margaret (between photographing and written records) dug into similar sandy/clay soil also finding a layer of pebbles, some large, and broken glass in context 02 and Victorian pottery in context 03.

 Sam and Keith in T07 and working in full sun, experienced similar ground conditions. Both grew so uncomfortably hot in the attempt that understandably they left a little earlier than the rest.

Murray was shown round the site by Paul, the landowner. Murray did not seem to think that the stone outcrop on the opposite side of the sunken road to the site was a quarry after all, but more of an attempt to widen the road at some point in the past. Paul later brought one of his 8yr old twins to have a little dig in T06,  and he told us about the arrows he found scattered over the site. He had discovered that, back in the 1980s, archery bows and arrows were being manufactured on the site, presumably a small, domestic industry using some of the local wood. 

 

Another sunny dry session out in this old orchard where the temperature soared to 24 degrees. A few people were away on holiday today, so weather was perfect for them.

Test pit 6, which several people have worked on including Murray, had its sections drawn today and once all the records and photos were completed, it was back-filled. This left two to be continued on.

T09 down at the lower part of the field, near the brook, where Keith and Julie took it down to context 004, more finds came to light including (bizarrely!) a screwed up ball of silver foil.

Roger continued with T08, which has a large area of burning in 006 that seems to go right down into the next context. There is a nice profile showing on the eastern section which he plans to draw next time he’s back on site.

A new test pit was opened down on the house lawn T16 (pristinely cut by Sam and Terry!) At the owner’s request it was extended to a longer trench because Paul was curious to know if it would reveal the foundations of an old porch. Just beneath the turf some plastic sheeting was found to be covering rubble, much of which looked like concrete. This will be removed next week to see if there is anything more interesting going on underneath it. Several pipe stems were also found in here, and there were two unstratified pieces of flint found near the house that we will get our experts to examine sometime in the future.

Today T05, the Test-Pit near the Northern boundary, with its deeper sondage in one corner, was completed and closed. Sadly it yielded few more finds. Before it was filled in each section was drawn on grids. Ian & Sam’s were then relocated to open T15 further east on the same slope.

After a week’s break, Murray returned to T06 and took it down to context 003 but with no more finds. Roger took T07 down to context 003, having found a nice piece of pot on the way there last week.

After reviewing  the latter, Murray seemed to think that the pot, although quite coarse and hand thrown, was more likely to come from a later Medieval period.

All of the Test-Pits so far have told a similar story. They all contained reddish sandy soil after the initial topsoil, most had charcoal inclusions and towards the bottom the soil became more clayish.

In the meantime, Murray forwarded Roger's photo of the flint found earlier in the month to his colleague Caroline Rosen, who’s a specialist in prehistoric lithic technology. These were her comments:

When zooming in the pic is a bit blurry but I would say that it is just a piece of ‘misc. debitage’. It is certainly broken (probably in two places) and it looks like they have the distal end of a flake. It could very well have come from a blade, but it is hard to tell so it should just be automatically classified as a broken flake. The distal end (where the thickness feathers out) seems to have edge-damage; this could be post-depositional or through expedient use (hard to tell from the photo).

This means it cannot be dated any more closely that 'later prehistoric', ie. Neolithic to Bronze Age....probably!

Another very hot day, with temperatures reaching 30 degrees, was spent at Hillgrove by just five members of the team this week. Others were on holiday or had other commitments.

Terry and Ian worked on trench T16 near the house going down to 30cm. While removing more of the rubble in the northern end, which consisted of concrete and bricks they came across 2 half bricks from the Tudor era. Also sieving the soil yielded yet another flint along with some pottery and coal.

Meanwhile Roger and Sam worked in T08 with its raised feature of a concentrated blockofcharcoal burning approx.10cm thick, which Roger had worked around last week. Today they levelled it off down to context 007 and in the lump found many chunks of charcoal, which will be weighed and recorded as well as nails and a small piece of Black Glazed pot, common to Worcestershire. Despite levelling it off the colouration at the bottom shows that the burnt area goes even deeper, so it seems they might want to take it down further next week.

All of this was recorded by each team on their test-pitting sheets as well as recorded on day sheets and photographically by Margaret.

Paul the owner is so keen that he often joins us to watch the progress as well as uses a trowel himself. His contribution to the site’s history is also very helpful in forming a picture of its past, while Francesca continues to investigate it further the archives.