Saturday, October 04, 2008

Aerial Acrobatics at Bodkin Hall

We did a lot of digging at Bodkin Hall on Sunday the 21st of September. Well, when I say ‘WE’, I’m using the royal ‘WE’ here, of course. I just ate a lot pies and issued a lot of orders and stuff myself, but everyone else did a lot of digging and that’s what counts.
In fact, here’s the finished, rather complicated, result:


Now you might be wondering how we attained such a detailed overhead shot as that. Even Frank’s plane has to fly at a certain altitude by law and couldn’t achieve such close up aerial photography.
Well, the truth is, it turned out that (following a brief discussion concerning insurance policies and such) Mr. Bradshaw (the hall’s owner) was a bit of an acrobat. Full of eager enthusiasm to record the results of the day, he scrambled up the drainpipe at the back of his house and inched himself along the apex of the garage roof.
Don’t believe us? Well here’s the proof:


Kids, don’t try this at home!
In fact don’t try this sort of thing anywhere.
Such acts of bravado/stupidity should be left in the hands of untrained but highly insured Pilling councillors. And if you still want to try it, don’t forget that we’d already dug the trench/shallow grave, so if he’d taken a tumble we’d simply have back-filled the whole lot and walked away quietly whistling. (“Mr. Bradshaw? No, officer, haven’t seen him all day. He said something about back-packing round North Korea and left with a rucksack.”)
It’s a good photograph regardless, but because it’s so complicated we’ve decided to simplify it as the following diagram:


Now, we’re sure that everyone who’s been following this excavation over the past few weeks would like a proper explanation (even if everybody else doesn’t). So, here’s the key:

1. Cobbled area lying just below the drive surface. (Just check back through the previous postings if you haven’t got a clue what we’re talking about. I’m sure we’ve recorded that bit before somewhere.)
2. Area removed from cobbled surface on 7th September 2008 in order to check the stratigraphy beneath. (Again, if this is confusing you then either check back through the previous postings or hold onto your seats, because it’s going to get a lot worse.)
3. Straight line of very crumbly bricks, level with upper cobbles. (Told you…)
4. Holes in the cobbled area. These contained well-defined layers of clay beneath which lies another cobbled surface. (Had enough yet?)
5. More holes in the cobbled area. These contained the same well-defined layers of clay as found in area 4 but no apparent lower layer of cobbles. (Getting this, are you?)
6. Disturbed ground where a modern drain has been laid. (It’s easy after you’ve read it about seventy times.)
7. Concrete slab jutting out from beneath garage. (We haven’t figured that bit out ourselves yet.)
8. Drive surface unexcavated. (At least that bit’s self-explanatory.)
9. Area of drive excavated down to the first level. This appears to be an earlier drive surface. (Unfortunately that bit’s where it starts to get confusing again.)
10. Layer beneath second drive surface consisting of grey silt containing cockleshells. (Don’t jump to conclusions.)
11. Layer beneath silt level consisting of dark clay. (Yes…that’s got us puzzled as well.)
12. Area of burnt, crunchy substance lying alongside the disturbed ditch for the drain at the same level as the upper cobblestones. (Even more puzzled and with the onset of a mild headache.)
13. Area of dark clay beyond the north edge of the upper layer of cobbles. (As the Americans would say: “Go figure!”)

So, that’s cleared that lot up then. (Bet you’re glad you tuned in to read this now, aren’t you?)
And our conclusions?
Well, we’ll leave them until the next episode I reckon. (Let’s put it this way…we’re still digging the drive up so we obviously haven’t had any profound revelations just yet.)
In the meantime, here’s one last photograph. That new bloke in white is Wyre Archaeology’s latest recruit Carlo. At the time of writing we haven’t returned to Bodkin Hall yet, so we’re not entirely sure whether our overwhelming presence has put him off archaeology forever or not.
Hopefully not.


18 comments:

Jayne said...

12. Area of burnt, crunchy substance lying alongside the disturbed ditch for the drain at the same level as the upper cobblestones.
Ahhh ta muchly, forgot where I left my boiled Hum Bug lollies....

Brian Hughes said...

Actually, Jayne, I think it might have been a strata of fat deposit, abandoned by dwarf miners due to its BCBs. Pilling's answer to the Knotty Ash Jam Butty mines.

John said...

burnt crunchy stuff is probably creosote or some other byproduct from burning coal and other combustibles at high enough temps to temper iron and steel. Could be indicative of a Blacksmiths or a Forge nearby. You should check that out!

JOHN :0)

More later when time permits.

John said...

burnt crunchy stuff is probably creosote or some other byproduct from burning coal and other combustibles at high enough temps to temper iron and steel. Could be indicative of a Blacksmiths or a Forge nearby. You should check that out!

JOHN :0)

More later when time permits.

Brian Hughes said...

"Could be indicative of a Blacksmiths or a Forge nearby."

John,

Could be...especially seeing as Bodkin Hall was originally a blacksmith's.

On the other hand, who knows what weird Pagan rites these Pilling folk used to get up to on Bonfire Night?

Jayne said...

Actually it's probably where King whatshisface hid the burnt oat cakes while on the run from the dwarf miners who were taking over the whole country with blacksmiths.

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

That'd be King Whatsisface, formerly known as Alfred? To be honest, if it's anything like my house, it's where the remains of breakfast get tipped every morning.

Jayne said...

That's the culprit, arrest Alfred for lewd damages to food products!

RVB said...

I just ate a lot pies and issued a lot of orders and stuff myself

Is that your diet? That's almost too British to be believed. Try eating some celery, Japanese Curry and Sushi (but not necessarily in that order).

Disturbed ground where a modern drain has been laid.

Yes, when it comes to inanimate-object-intercourse, nothing beats a bit of modernism.

Holes in the cobbled area. These contained well-defined layers of clay beneath which lies another cobbled surface.

Well-defined? I take the Oxford Dictionary has devoted some whopping nine square cm of text for that definition.

The TARDIS eh? Somehow I think the doctor has better things to do than interfere with some very well-defined archaeological phenomena...unless of course you found the ghost of the 7th Doctor.

John said...

Brian,
I were being fascetious, earlier, but honestly, the crunchy stuff could be where they emptied the coal stove out. Check the records for a coal stove or furnace, or then again, the blacksmith's could have used coal. Since it's all in a set area, it were probably the spot out back where they dumped the stuff.

Your diagram is nice, but it would have been more helpful if you spotted the buildings, current and otherwise, on it.

How long has Mr. Bradshaw lived there? Does he know the history of the place, or are there records going way back?

The concrete is probably modern, right? Is it part of the new addition, or more recent building?

What's with the cockleshells?

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

Might be a bit difficult. He's been dead for umpteen centuries.

Reuben,

That was my diet until this morning. Unfortunately, my increasingly high blood sugar levels have meant a sudden change in basic food staffs as per the advice of my doctor. I've been on pasta and herbs today. It's what's known as the Mediteranean diet, apparently. You don't actually live any longer...it just feels like it.

John,

All will be revealed...eventually.

Jayne said...

Hang on...isn't it your birthday, Brian ?

JahTeh said...

Jayne, his birthday was 28th September and he doesn't look a day over 74, more like 10 years over 74. I was going to send him a cake but his diet is disgraceful enough without food parcels from Australia. I'd have sent myself but our stamps aren't big enough to cover a parcel of me.

Nice diagram, TimeTeam does it better.

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

It was my birthday (as Witchy correctly pointed out) on the 28th, and to celebrate Mrs Bradshaw made me a bacon butty. (Actually she made everyone on site that day a bacon butty, but I nicked Barbara's off her for a birthday treat and then told her that there hadn't been enough to go round.)

Witchy,


"Nice diagram, TimeTeam does it better."

They get paid a lot more as well.

Jayne said...

Happy belated returns, Brian, although I'm sure those bacon butty's returned enough for several birthdays to come :P

Brian Hughes said...

Ta.

Unfortunately those bacon butties won't be returning for quite some time. Not only have we finished our excavations at Bodkin Hall now (you'll be extremely pleased to know) but my doctor insists that I stick to a healthier diet.

Life can be so cruel at times.

Jayne said...

Healthier?! Healthier?!
*Think I just fell off my chair

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne,

I know...I didn't think you could get any healthier than cheese pies and whiskey...but apparently pasta and rice dishes are more appropriate for rising blood sugar levels. They're also tasteless by comparison...so they might help improve my sense of humour too, although they're obviously not working yet.