Thursday, 29 August 2013

And we're off...

Today is our third day on site, and we're into the swing of the dig. On the first day, we removed the turf from the excavation area. On many archaeological excavations, this stage is carried out using a mechanical excavator, but due to the sensitive nature of the site and the potential for the presence of human remains, we're doing it all by hand.

Our volunteers begin the de-turfing under the supervision of Archaeologist Ruth Humphreys

On Day 2, we began to dig down through the topsoil to expose the sandy orange subsoil beneath.
Removing the topsoil

There's a wide variety of finds coming out of the topsoil, from fragments of decorative iron railing that once would have circled tombs and pieces of broken headstones, to Victorian pottery and a 17th century coin. Inevitably, given that the site is a former graveyard, we're finding fragments of 'disarticulated' (loose) human bone, which have been moved around in the soil by burrowing animals and landscaping. The human remains are kept aside from the rest of the finds, and will be re-buried on the site once the excavation is finished.

Headstone fragment discovered within the area of the rockery

Many people have asked us about GSB Prospection's geophysical survey, which provided the target for this dig. Below is a plan showing the Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) response in relation to the church, with our excavation area marked. The red splodges indicate solid materials, which we hope may correspond to the locations of buried remains of walls belonging to an early building on the site. Is it the Saxon Minster? Watch this space!

The geophysical survey by GSB Prospection: this plan shows GPR response at a depth of 1.3m below ground level

Rob Hedge

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