Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Students working hard despite the weather.

Unforgiving weather conditions have interrupted excavations throughout the Berkeley castle dig today with the strong winds and incessant showers redirecting the majority of our efforts towards post excavation techniques, practices and activities. The paddock trench has been off limits today and the students have been busy in the social media HQ to begin work on organising and classifying some of the previous years of archaeological research.  

A small group of our students have spent their day logging context sheets. These reference databases are vital to the post excavation process as they enable archaeologists to access their data with as much ease as possible even long after the trenches have been filled back in. Others are using archaeological drawings to create a stratigraphic sequence of the trench in the Paddock. These sequences can then be used to work out the relative relationships between the varying stratigraphic sequences that are evident throughout the Berkeley sites. When these workings are combined with dated artefacts, such as pottery sherds, individual dates can be assigned to the different phases that are evident from the excavations so far.

Elsewhere on the castle grounds Phil Rowe, accompanied by a group of first year students, are conducting a survey in the castle grounds, creating a profile of the 12th to 14th Century moat and ditches. The information obtained from these surveys will be used to create a 3D map of the castle and to assist in the phasing of the outer banks and defences of Berkeley Castle. Also by knowing the depths of the ditches, we can work out how much further Trench 18, supervised by Dr. Lucy Cramp, needs to be dug in order to identify where the archaeology ends, and the bedrock begins.

Students conducting a survey within the castle grounds

Within the Jenner garden, our students have been mattocking and shovelling in order to reduce the depth of the trench. They are continuing to remove the mixed rubble, mortar and slag layer which seals the uppermost fills of all the cut archaeological features. The layer contains a complete mixture of find types: slag, pottery, animal bone, tile, antler and mortar as well as a complete date range from Prehistoric flints to Roman pottery to possible Saxon slag and building debris. Our finds today have been good, despite the persistent rain and the enormous quantities of slag (industrial metal waste) we have been getting over the past week is reducing, which is a relief for everybody. Emily, our Jenner Trench supervisor, has been very impressed with the way the Jenner team has pulled together today and is excited at the prospect of the next couple of days when the archaeological feature that lie within the trench will be fully defined.

Students working hard in the Jenner Garden Trench



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