Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So Long and Thanks for all the Cow Manure: Part Two

It’s time to continue our chronological record of Wyre Archaeology’s activities during the year of Our Lord 2008, for anybody who might be interested and hasn’t succumbed to the intoxicating dangers of too much egg-nog by now, leaving out all the long winded bits such as contour surveying and pie eating and beer drinking and ordering the womenfolk about and the somnambulistic committee meetings etc.
So, to steer this article back onto track, at some point during the year (July, if memory serves) we received an email from Mr Bradshaw of Bodkin Hall, Pilling, asking if we’d like to investigate his front drive, because it was full of old cobbles and bits of iron and intriguing bones and other antiquarian stuff. Me, Michelle and Fiona took a ‘preamble’ around the Georgian cottage first, veering off after about quarter of an hour up the public footpath near by that skirts round the back of the now disused
Newer’s Wood graveyard, where the following unflattering photograph was taken.

We dug Bodkin Hall in September. It took us four weeks. At the outset of the excavation all of the other members of Wyre Archaeology insisted that we’d find a mediaeval road buried beneath the drive. “No!” I told them, emphatically. “It’s bound to be all Edwardian and Victorian stuff!” (At least that’s how I remember it, and I’m writing this up so that’s an end to the matter.)
As it transpired there was no mediaeval road to be found, just a lot of Edwardian and Victorian stuff, which just goes to show. (What? It wasn’t me who came up with the mediaeval road theory! They’re all fibbing! Honest!)

Just for the record, from left to right in the photograph above are Chris (burying a half eaten cheese and pickle butty in the trench), Paul (practising his dance for the up and coming Pilling Playhouse performance of Tinkerbell), Carlo (having a game of pool with a snail, using several old marbles as the balls, a ranging pole as the cue and the wheelbarrow as the table) and Ed (discovering a first edition folio of ‘Love’s Labours Won’ in Trench 001).
It was a good dig, especially the bacon butties and the chocolate cake. We found lots of Hartley’s marmalade jars and horseshoes and a creepy Victorian doll’s leg. And a pocketknife. And a homemade wooden bat and ball. And a bicycle brake. And an old brooch. And some homemade marbles. And several other things that I can’t quite remember off hand. I enjoyed myself immensely. Especially the bacon butties and the chocolate cake…or have I already mentioned them?
Moving on, and October saw our return to the unhallowed platform at Grange Farm, Stalmine.

Despite a grand start to the month, inevitably the British summer turned on its heels, bypassed autumn completely, and went straight into the freezing, sleet-spattered, gale-shredded bowels of Stalmine Hell. By November there was cow dung everywhere (including Chris’s hood, which he wasn’t terribly happy about) and we wrapped up the excavations for the season every bit as confused as on the day that we first started.
The archaeological year wasn’t quite over yet, though.
There was still plenty of contour surveying and geophysing to do, so as winter drew on we found ourselves back at that perennial old favourite of ours, the Iron Age settlement at Bourne Hill, Thornton. Undeterred by the Siberian conditions, Danielle carried out the first of her geophysical surveys of the plateau. Chris and Carlo in the meantime, abandoned by the rest of Wyre Archaeology all of whom had suddenly found something much more important to do, embarked on their contour survey of the site.

And that just about wraps it up for 2008.
There were a few other events that took place over the course of the year, such as Barbara, Harry and Jean opening the Wyre Archaeology stall at Lambs Road, and us bringing a couple of new books out (nothing new there), and there was a lot more contour surveying and stuff, and we appeared in the local newspapers quite a few times, and David Ratledge gave us an interesting talk about Roman roads. But, to be honest, I’ve been hitting the eggnog a bit hard myself tonight, so I reckon it’s about time to bring this annual record to a close.
A great big thanks to everybody who made this year such an enormous success (and it was a success…or at least it was good fun if you’re going to be pedantic about it…some of the womenfolk could have worked a bit harder perhaps, but it’s Christmas so I’m going to be lenient with them).
To paraphrase that bloke off the Fast Show: “Next year we will be mostly digging Bourne Hill.”
So here’s to 2009, and now I’m going to bugger off before I fall off my chair.


Anonymous said...

It sounds like quite an exhausting year...though the exiguous nature of your diet certainly did put the icing on the cake as far as anecdotes are concerned (though I doubt you lot are up for cakes...too exotic).

And why are there so many bloody hedges in the UK? Don't your farmers have anything better to do than mold a bush into great snakes of hedge?

Oh, and on a different note, I'd like you to visit my other blog:
It's about religion etc...I we need someone with a bit of humor (and a bit of senility).

Brian Hughes said...

"...why are there so many bloody hedges in the UK?"

Reuben, if there weren't, there'd be loads of flat sheep and cows all over the roads. Actually most of them were grown during the mediaeval period (the hedges, that is, not the sheep and cows) when land was measured and divided to within an inch of its life.

Brian Hughes said...

Incidentally, Reuben, could you get rid of the 'e-mail required' line in the comments boxes at your new site? I don't care if it does claim it won't be published, they're obviously after it for a reason and I refuse to give my e-mail address out anywhere these days after the last bit of trouble I had with spammers.

Lord Sedgwick said...

Happy New Year to all you ole diggers.

BTW Brian, for reasons best known to nobody - especially me - I happened to catch the Edinburgh Military Tattoo tonight. It turns up on OZ TV every years and I'm buggered if I know why.

Tonight's offering was about the worst I've seen (OK, so that's a big call) given it looked like Edinburgh Military Tattoo meets Eurovision Song Contest choreographed by Michael Flattely and voiced over by the biggest sycophantic prat since Michael Parkinson.

But don't let me put anyone off from buying the DVD for next Xmas' gift giving.

Brian Hughes said...

And an extremely chubby, tartiflette filled New Year to your good self, Sedgers.

Can't say as I've watched the Edinburgh Tattoo for a long time, but I did catch the equally pretentious and disgustingly expensive nonsense that was the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games last year. I strongly suspect that since television grew up and banished the likes of Stanley Baxter, Des O'Conner, Val Doonican and other 'light entertainment' garbage to the great dustbin of memerobilia, there's been a lot of fix-i-dent-smiled, pointless, camp and nasty old dance groups looking for work. It seems that Edinburgh has founded a charitable rest home for them.

Jayne said...

Tis 2009 here and, so far, it's still shiny and new....the gloss is expected to dull in about 6 hours, give or take a couple of canines and felines with weak bladders and empty stomachs.
Happy New Whatsits!

Brian Hughes said...

Cheers Jayne. It's not quite 2009 here at the time of writing. We've still got all the drunken, boisterous revellers to come. I'm going to consume several large glasses of whisky myself and retire early...which pretty much sums up my biography then.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brian Hughes said...

First comment of the year and it's been deleted. Doesn't bode well, does it?

Anonymous said...

It was written when slightly drunk...slightly.

Lord Sedgwick said...

Dammit Reuben, slightly drunk at this time of the year just doesn't cut the mustard ... and why weren't you lost at Lorne like all other fine upstanding young bronzed Aussie lads.

Sorry Broyan, it's a local news in joke. Google will no doubt inform you, but don't bother to go there, it's a seriously naff young yob story.

Brian Hughes said...

Hmm...decided to look up Lorne at Google news and discovered:

"We know we are idiots, we think we are so silly. I just what to thank everyone who was involved in the process.'"

Betcha they won't be saying that when they get the bill.

John said...

Happy New Year!

The Edinburgh Tatoo looks like an event that is best witnessed in person... the sunset, the wail of bagpipes wafting over the castle grounds, the bright lights overhead, and darkness around as aforementioned sunset ends... yep, I bet it is grand if you're on the spot, but I'm certain it loses something as seen on the telly.

Kinda like looking at the Mona Lisa through a viewmaster... no, more like listening to a symphony that your neighbor is playing on their stereo, on an old scratched up 78 rpm vinyl record, and you just happen to pick it up on your wireless phone while trying to talk to your Mum about returning this year's Christmas present.

Okay, today is just not the day to tax the brain with clever metaphors. Sorry.

JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...

"...more like listening to a symphony that your neighbor is playing on their stereo, on an old scratched up 78 rpm vinyl record..."

If only my neighbour was that sophisticated, it'd be an improvement on the appalling trance music he currently plays at full blast. With a bit of luck his head'll explode from the volume soon.

Jayne said...

Oh, we've got a neighbour who is in love with his BASS amp coz you've got to have BASS cranked up till you can feel the BASS loosening your teeth fillings and the BASS has to make every window in the street rattle but the sad thing about the BASS is it's wasted on his crap music that could have rabid chipmunks squealing to it.
Hence,JOY is played in the backyard at every possibility very LOUDLY.
And without any BASS :P

Brian Hughes said...


Our neighbour, it seems, has never heard of earphones...and/or having a bit of respect for other people's peace and quiet. I suspect he won't last long. The rest of the avenue are plotting revenge most foul as I type.

Anonymous said...

Could you do a blog post about that, Brian? It sounds gorgeous.

I wish my neighbor's kids would stop throwing tantrums...and stop scaring Glossy.

Brian Hughes said...


It's perhaps not the most fitting topic for this board, but I've no doubt that when he gets his come-uppance, you'll be able to hear the cheers in Melbourne.

JahTeh said...

I was at the computer and came over all nauseous until I realized the bloody Tattoo was on in the other room. The ex never missed a viewing which is why I had such pleasure in taking to his bagpipe records with a geologist's pick the first NYE after he left.

And that's a pissy report, what about the carboot sale?

Brian Hughes said...


I've already written about the carboot sale previously at this board. You might need to have a good rummage around through the odds and ends box if you want to find it.