Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wyre Archaeology Does the Grange Farm Platform: Part Three

The arrival of Laura was a bit of a Godsend. Unlike the rest of us, Laura had enough intelligence to open the field gate, park her car on the field, and then close the gate again behind her, thus avoiding the perils of entering through the hawthorn hedge. Not only was this a considerably safer approach to the platform, but also the cows, overwhelmed by a desire to see what Laura’s car tasted like, finally buggered off from where they’d been gathered around the dumpy all morning and left us in peace.
Here’s Laura on her hands and knees in the trench. That isn’t an arrow on her right hand side that I’ve added later to point something out, by the way. It’s somebody’s cheesecake knife. I’ve no idea what it’s doing in there, but I didn’t get to share the cheesecake whatever the case.

With all the recording done and the rain now bucketing down with such force that our various hat brims resembled QVC lampshades, we backfilled the trench. None of the sods we’d removed when we’d opened it fitted into the hole again. Don’t ask me why, but there are always at least five large chunks of grass-covered ground left over on every excavation, which somebody invariably attempts to squeeze into the gaps with the heel of their boot with little success. The finished result more often than not looks like a stegosaurus.
Before all that, of course, we took the money shot…which we’ve reproduced for you below.

All that was left to do now was go home and write up the excavation report. (Hah! That’s all…just the insignificant weeklong scanning, context sheet filling, stratigraphic matrix building and report writing session. Why do you think I never actually do any digging? All the really hard work happens behind the computer, believe me.)
As I just mentioned, sort of, part of the excavation report consisted of scanning in the small finds (such as they were) most of which came up in the topsoil.

Some sort of explanation is probably in order, so…

One: Part of a door hinge. A bit on the rusted side. Probably cheaper to buy a new one.

Two: A broken tile found amongst the rubble of the wall. Might have been a teapot stand.

Three: Three shards of glazed pottery, one of which was willow pattern. We’re getting quite a lot of willow pattern fragments now. At this rate we’ll be able to reconstruct an entire tea service.

Four: Lime mortar found in the collapsed wall. Wouldn’t bring much on the black market.

Five: Small fragments of glass, all modern. Somebody, somewhere’s been enjoying a bottle of cider.

Six: Pieces of slate. Too thin to be roofing material. Who knows what they were doing in there.

Seven: Small piece of brick. We left the larger fragments in situ when the trench was backfilled. Well, I’m not lugging a dirty great load of bricks home with me and having them piled up all over the house.

Eight: Brown pottery, possibly the base of a storage jar. Wonder what sort of biscuits they were.

Our reader’s probably sitting there now thinking, “What a total load of old rubbish!” Well…yes…you’d be right…but archaeology’s in the detail. For instance, some of those brick fragments were pre-Tudor. Don’t ask us how we know. There are answers out there if you want to find them. This fact, however, coupled with the lime mortar and the large cobblestones, suggests that our hovel was random built, recycled no doubt from the ruins of something much older. The mediaeval water mill, perhaps? The potential keeill? Obviously not the chicken shack…it’s highly unlikely that a herd of chickens had a Tudor style brick residence to live in. Whatever the case, further investigation is required. So, if you’re interested to see how we get on, then stay tuned for more exciting adventures…at some point.


Jayne said...

I know! I know!
*waves hand madly at the back of the class*
Bricks have different styles, thickness, materials and glazes through each period.
As do the mortars differ to glue the whole lot together :P
So where would the rest of the materials be, if they haven't used them all in the barn building?

Brian Hughes said...


Now that I can't answer. Possibly the cows have eaten them.

On the other hand, you can't leave anything alone for five minutes round here without somebody nicking it.

John said...

By any chance is there an English, or a Wyre and Fylde, Holiday that involves the locals running about smashing pottery? And in a related question, do you lot run about with teapots wherever you go, and leave them lying about when done with them?

The reason i ask is that it appears to me that all you have do do over there is stick a spade in the ground and you are finding bits of pottery and teapots. Over here in the states you stick a spade in the ground and you get dirt, rocks, and tree roots. Maybe a 1972 penny if you're really lucky.

I'm serious about this, and would like an answer.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Feral Beast said...


Maybe it is the watermill.

Brian Hughes said...


"By any chance is there an English, or a Wyre and Fylde, Holiday that involves the locals running about smashing pottery?"

It's called a typical Saturday night out in Blackpool.

"The reason i ask is that it appears to me that all you have do do over there is stick a spade in the ground and you are finding bits of pottery and teapots."

Ah, well, what you have to remember here is that Britain's just a small island with about 10,000 years of history. That's an awful lot of people and an awful lot of teapots. I remember one epsiode of Time Team where they completely failed to find anything archaeological whatsoever, to which Tony Robinson commented: "We must have chosen the only field in Britain with nothing it." He probably had a point.

Mr. Beast,

Fingers crossed...although it's more likely to be a later building of some sort that's been built out of the reamins of the watermill. Hopefully we'll be digging some more of it up over the next few weeks so we should get some answers.

Dysthymiac said...

after I read the other comments I forgot wot I was gonna say.

cows are very curious, or just bored witless standng around all day.
maybe they ate the cheesecake too.

John said...

A watermill would have to be of sturdy construction, wouldn't it, suggesting very large stones for the walls, and millstones as well?

Of course very large stones would probably be recycled into something nearby... and maybe you want to check nearby gardens for a millstone with little flowers climbing up it as it leans against a wall?

Doesn't mortar and lime suggest medieval construction?

Just thinking... I think it's time for a recap after post #4.

JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


Cows eating cheesecake? Wouldn't that amount to a form of canibalism?


Yes, no gardens nearby (deep in farming country here) and yes. It was an interesting dig today and we're slowly unravelling the mysteries of our platform. More to come in the next few weeks some time.

Dysthymiac said...

do bees eat honey?

Brian Hughes said...


You're quite right. Cows produce milk to feed their young, don't they? So cheesecake wouldn't be canibalism for them, it'd just be their equivalent of us eating Farley's rusks.

Mmm...Farleys rusks...