Small but perfectly formed – Trench J’s miniature axehead
Dig Diary – Day Eleven
Monday, July 12, 2021
We’re losing count of the extensions to Trench J this year. There have certainly been three and it looks likely that a fourth will break ground tomorrow.
The reason? There are a number of unresolved questions over that part of the junction between Structure Five and Structure Thirty-Two and how all of that relates to the blocked-up entrance on the west side of Five.
It is a complicated and far-from-clearly understood area and the widening of the trench at this point is the only way to answer these conundrums.
Quite apart from resolving knotty issues, the considerable work in that corner of the trench over the past three weeks had brought rewards in the form of artefacts.
Ceiridwen took the crown today as, excavating extension number three on top of the Structure Five wall, she uncovered a really beautiful polished miniature stone axe.
It is skilfully made from camptonite and has seen very little wear. Like many of the stone tools discovered this year the little axe will not be washed and only handled when absolutely necessary.
It will, instead, be kept in pristine, earthy condition so that it can be chemically examined for any residues lurking on its surface. Hopefully this will tell us exactly what it was used for.
A couple of metres to the south a probable finds deposit has been discovered consisting of a large number of worked stones. These have been taken to our on-site geologist, Dr Martha, and we will tell you her conclusion when she has had a chance to examine them all.
Lastly, and by no means least, the decision was made to remove the large quernstone to the west side of the entrance to Structure Thirty-Two.
This is a very large stone indeed, and lifting such things is no easy task.
Nick decided that the time-honoured ploy of using a length of strong, deep-sea fishing net was the best bet.
All safety regulations were observed, such as making sure than all diggers within reach of the rock were wearing steel-capped boots, as crushed toes are the last thing anyone wants.
The net was carefully wrapped around the stone which was fairly loose in the ground.
At last, after some huffing and puffing, Ray and Colin manhandled the monster onto the side of the trench and wheelbarrowed it down to the finds hut.
Over in Structure Ten, Sinead and her team are removing further floor deposits and taking yet more samples.
Towards the west wall of the structure Mandy and Catriona have been working between orthostats relating to a dresser arrangement.
Catriona, who was one of a number of new and old (in the sense of having been here before) faces joining us today uncovered some flint and pottery fragments, which was a nice reward for her first day back in the trenches for a couple of years.
In Structure Twelve, supervisor Jim spent much of today poring over contexts from previous excavation years as he intends to carry out some work around the building’s northern annex.
Sigurd has finished planning his excavation around the collapsed drain within Structure Twelve and will resume digging in the area tomorrow, where more animal bone and pottery have already been noted just below the surface.
We have to say that Sigurd is not a sylph-like fellow – comparisons to a rectangular, sunburned standing stone have been heard muttered – but he is far too precious to lose down a drain.
Much thought has been given to the problem of retaining him above ground and in the land of the living. The solution decided upon involves the tying of a strong rope round his ankles.
We, and Mrs Sigurd, hope this will be sufficient.
We will tell you tomorrow. Until then….