But we're supposed to be digging tomorrow (although the weather forecast doesn't look too clever) so I'm posting early this week just in case.
Now, take a look at this…
No…it’s not the Wyre Archaeology squad turning up for an excavation. It’s what the Wyre Archaeology squad turning up for an excavation were greeted by on June the 29th 2008.
This is fairly standard procedure for excavations. Stick a dumpy in a field with cows in it somewhere and within seconds, regardless of how large the field is, regardless of how far away the cows are, regardless of the numerous bear traps, illegal land mines and deadly lilia (if you don’t know what they are, go and look them up) that you plant around the site, they’ll all be gathered round, licking your spades, nibbling your metal detectors, pulling up your pegs and attempting to steal your beef and mustard butties.
That’s cannibalism! Not that they mind a spot of relative eating, so long as the mustard is English, and I can’t say that I blame them. If I was standing around a field with nothing better to do than chew grass and take large, steaming dumps all day, I’d probably be interested in the pre-packed lunches of a group of old fogies wearing cowboy hats, trying to look as though they know what they’re doing whilst setting up camp beneath the bushes.
However…I digress. This is supposed to be a posting about the first trench we sunk into the platform at the rear of Grange Farm in Stalmine…not about the nosy cows pictured above, who spent most of the day forcing George to do ‘panicking turkey’ impressions.
So, let’s have a bit of background to this dig then.
We’ve covered our theories about the Grange Farm platform somewhere in a previous posting, discussing the possibilities for it having originally housed a keeill, which might later have been pulled down to make way for an eleventh century watermill, which in turn was probably demolished and recycled into a cottage/hovel, which eventually came down too, leaving the platform free to play host to a shack and a gaggle of very fat chickens.
Whatever its origins, the platform still contained at least one building as late as the 1840s, as the first edition Ordnance Survey map overlaid on its modern counterpart below demonstrates.
Now that’s probably the same building that appears on Yates’s map of 1786. A building that had possibly been standing there for a long time before that as well.
It isn’t there now, of course.
And according to the aerial photographs taken in the 1940s it wasn’t there then.
Okay…so the general order in which archaeologists do things (leaving aside eating their butties, quaffing their brews, smoking their cigarettes and indulging in other essential matters) is to dispense with the more modern archaeology first before digging deeper in search of the ancient.
That’s why we decided to excavate this particular building first…well, that and the fact that we hadn’t surveyed the north end of the platform yet, where the watermill would have been located.
Accordingly, the first trench was opened in the spot we thought most likely for the building to have stood, as shown in the photograph below.
It was a good trench.
However, we completely missed the building, had to shut it down again and try somewhere else.
Second time lucky.
But because I’m in an awkward mood, I reckon I’ll bring this posting to a screeching halt right about there and leave our reader on a cliffhanger.