There are 4 Test pits open, some are taking longer than others to excavate because they are revealing more interesting features.
T12, the newer Test pit nearest the outbuildings, had already been started and was taken down to 30cm last week with all the soil being sieved. The finds in here are small and mainly of a domestic nature. The loose soil is becoming solid and harder to work, with a spread of charcoal inclusion.
Terry and Ian continued with T16, located nearer the house. This long trench that had contained lots of rubble is, at its deepest point, now over 1 metre down. For ease of access it has been formed into stepped sondages, and this week Terry focussed on the one to the South at only 40cm.
Roger, in his quest to establish the depth of the strange patch of burning, has taken T08 down to over a metre. A plank of wood was discovered last week sticking out of the west side of the trench. This week he carefully worked all round it to remove more layers of the surrounding charcoal, which began to peter out although the pale sandy demarcation line still remains. At this stage it is hard to determine the reason for this strange anomaly.
Tina made a neat job of getting T09, at the bottom of the field, down to context 004. There are few artefacts coming out of it now and not much in the way of features. She also helped with sieving and metal detecting.
Meanwhile Francesca safely bagged up the flints found in recent times along with their descriptions from Rob Hedge. These will be listed as small finds.
Winter to Spring
The group made several attempts to return to Hillgrove between February and April to complete test pits T11, T17, T03 & T04, but the weather was often too changeable. Thankfully when it rained we were able retreat to the nearby workshops and do some washing and recording of finds instead.
Nevertheless T11, sited on the cottage lawn area, was excavated deeper and a large number of finds were retrieved including pottery, glass, metal, bone and CBM. The best artefact from here was a 17th century clay pipe bowl found at 50cm down.
Given all these finds T17, also sited on the cottage lawn, was then extended southwards in a long trench of 1m x 2m. It yielded 4 trays of finds just from context 03!
T03, the brick floor on the western side of the cottage first uncovered late last year, was also extended revealing on the edge of the mish-mash of bricks what appeared to be a small millstone with a square hole. After closer examination it was found to be made of concrete, although its original function still remains a mystery.
Alsolocated west of the cottage was T04, which Terry took down 80cm to the natural sandstone. At that point it was level with the nearby sunken road, its odd shape seemingly formed by years of rain-water pouring down the hill towards the site.
Paul, who owns the site, was happy for the team to examine other areas, so a few other testpits are now planned for the future.
Hillgrove 5th & 12th October
It is growing more autumnal now with recent heavy rain having dampened the ground. There are 3 test pits open - TP17 near the house, TP11 more central to the lawn and T03 on the east side of the house.
TP17 was opened the previous week, with several members taking turns to work on it until Tina reached 40cm, where she found a strange swirl of lighter sand. It was not dissimilar a possible former post or stake hole that Terry had found in TP18, beside the concrete path. As it was taken down a further 10 cm the swirl began to disappear, although it was still noted on the record sheets. There was a fair amount of 19th Cent. domestic finds in here too, along with several old chunky nails. Also, according to Paul the owner, this trench was quite close to a former field boundary seen on an old map.
TP11 opened earlier by Sam was continued on down to 30cm, again finding more domestic bits and a possible flint yet to be confirmed by WAAS.
TP3 was excavated by Terry, Ian and Roger to investigate a poorly made brick path, which was thought to be the floor of an outbuilding or pigsty. Margaret drew the exposed area, and if time allows it might be extended even further.
Last week Terry decided to examine the Culvert area (TP10) at the lowest corner of the field near the stream. After he had strimmed away the undergrowth, Ian and Roger did their first dig, but it was all rather muddy. If time allows and the weather stays fine it might be extended further.
Francesca has been busily cleaning and bagging up the finds from each Test Pit on site ready for a weighing and recording session elsewhere during the winter. The cleaned small finds, which may help with dating, are kept separate to be examined by experts later.
Meanwhile Roger, using all our written records, has begun to plot a complicated chart of all the Test Pits, listing what was found in all the different contexts and locations in an attempt to finally analyse and summarise the site after the dig is completed. It is very exciting to see this overall picture gradually emerging.
It was another gorgeous hot day at Hillgrove and very warm too. Fortunately two out of three of the Test Pits being excavated were sheltered by some trees.
Ian and Keith, working on T05, had got down to context 005, where they encountered a metal rod 58 cm x 1cm dia in the northwest corner. The function of this rod was hard to determine. Terry suggested they go deeper, so a sondage was agreed on in the northeast corner.
In Murray’s absence, Margaret carried on with T06 down into context 003, encountering some broken green glass in the northwest corner and what looked like moist white clay in the southeast corner. The soil was sun-baked, so the going was very hard.
T07 down the hill, which Sam and Keith opened last week was continued by Roger who, while excavating down to 20cm, happened upon the best find of the day – a portion of pot base from Romano-British period! (yet to be confirmed by experts)
This was exactly the kind of thing we were looking for and undoubtedly the discovery will spur everyone on for weeks to come. So ended a perfect but albeit tiring day, crowned by a yummy donation of strawberries from Terry's garden.