Dig Diary – Transforming black-shrouded trenches to spectacular archaeology

The view over Trench P this morning - tyres and covers in place.  (πŸ“· Jo Bourne)
The view over Trench P this morning – tyres and covers in place. (πŸ“· Jo Bourne)

Day Two
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Day two dawned bright and, mercifully, a little cooler than yesterday.

After the excitement and heavy manual labour of yesterday, Day Two is usually characterised by just heavy manual labour. The transformation of the site from black-shrouded trenches to spectacular archaeology is neither easy nor quick. But, as you’ll see, we’ve done it!

The focus today was on Trench P and removing the tyres and protective coverings from the buildings within. In some cases this was fairly straightforward but hampered slightly by the pockets of standing water – the results of a wet winter and cool spring.

Lagoons of standing water in Structure Twelve.  (πŸ“· Jo Bourne)
Lagoons of standing water in Structure Twelve. (πŸ“· Jo Bourne)

These were where rainwater had pooled on top of the covers and gathered in the numerous crannies across the buildings’ interiors. They must be carefully removed using sponges, scoops and buckets, to keep the water from washing down and into the delicate floor deposits.

A double tyre-chain in action this morning.  (πŸ“· Jo Bourne)
A double tyre-chain in action this morning. (πŸ“· Jo Bourne)
Travis and Ben - part of the line removing tyres from Trench P.  (πŸ“· Jo Bourne)
Travis and Ben – part of the chain removing tyres from Trench P. (πŸ“· Jo Bourne)

As the day wore on, there some serious β€œtarp stratigraphy” was called on around Structures Eight, Ten and Twelve, where we had to work out the order in which some of the massive covers had been laid at the end of the 2023 season.

But I’m delighted to say the operation was a complete success and all the trenches are now fully uncovered (except the floor covers that are left in place to protect the delicate occupation deposits until excavation).

All the tyres have been stacked, ready for collection, and the covers laid out, cleaned and refolded. Both will be recycled.

Job done. Looking over Structure Ten into Trench P at close of business today.  (πŸ“· Jo Bourne)
Job done. Looking over Structure Ten into Trench P at close of business today. (πŸ“· Jo Bourne)

So we’re now all set for tomorrow, which will begin with an initial clean of the trenches. The trench sections, edges and surfaces have to be divested of vegetation and their edges made perfectly vertical.

Although we call this “cleaning”, it invariably makes more mess, but once that initial detritus has been cleared away the site looks pristine and almost sparkling in the sunlight. That done, excavation will get into full swing across the site.

Our sincere thanks to all the volunteers who turned up today and helped us get the site ready for opening to the public tomorrow and the first of our public tours.

Outside the trenches we’re delighted to report that the on-site shop is up and running and the finds hut decked out ready for the first of the season’s discoveries – including some worked stone tools recovered from trench sections today.

The site gate opens officially at 9.30am, with free tours at 11am, 1pm and 3pm. Do drop past and say hello.

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