So there we were digging down to the Earth’s core at the bottom of Test Pit 004, unearthing all sorts of priceless seventeenth century pipe fragments (and we really do mean priceless, because stuff like this wouldn’t bring a penny on the open market) when suddenly we struck clay.
Well, when I say ‘we’, obviously I’m referring to Chris, Dave and J.D. here. As site supervisor I’m not allowed to become emotionally attached to any manual work myself. Instead I’m left with the infinitely more difficult task of composing photographs of my minions at work, such as the one below.
What do you mean you didn’t understand that? All right, here’s a diagram/aerial photograph thing that should explain it better. Let’s hope it does, because it’s all you’re going to get. Time’s pressing here and we need to get on.
So, this freshly discovered clay (which was yellow and hard and rang when Chris’s trowel smacked into it…you can always tell you’ve hit something interesting when the trowel can be used as a tuning fork) was approximately 20 centimetres down. The 1640’s pipe bowl had been unturfed approximately 10 centimetres down. This means that, taking into account the natural build up of the soil and what-not, the yellow clay predated 1640 by some considerable margin, and had probably been thrown up onto the platform during its original construction.
All of which is fine and good, but there was more to this clay floor thing than at first met the eye.
You see, it wasn’t actually flat. Admittedly, there was a rabbit burrow near by (hence the ‘rodents’ in the title of this article), and rabbit warrens are notorious for rambling all over the shop. And, almost certainly, this explained the narrow tunnel running north/south through the clay in the test pit.
However, unless said rodent had been trained at the school of Pythagorean thought and later taken a course at the ‘Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen Academy of Interior Shelf Design’, it couldn’t explain the almost mathematically perfect, stepped, semi-circular impression that was starting to emerge.
Again, I can hear you muttering to yourself: “What on Earth is he waffling on about?”
Here’s a photograph of Test Pit 004, as shot from above:
Anyhow, what exactly created this depression?
Well, I haven’t got a clue, to be honest, although the fact that ‘we’ were digging extremely close to the edge of the platform (just behind the spot where the waterwheel would have been overhanging its pit, in fact) it’s a reasonable assumption to make that, originally, some of the inner workings of the mill would have been standing here.
One last photograph for now, showing J.D. wielding the photographic stick like the true professional he is.
Obviously, at the time of writing, we’ve still got a long way to go. We need to expand that test pit into a trench for a start, and then see what other intriguing depressions litter our clay floor. Even at this stage, however, the evidence produced proves that there was definitely something happening on the platform during the mediaeval period, so anybody who ever doubted us can stick that in their clay pipe and smoke it.