Friday, May 10, 2013

Whose house is it anyway?

One of the most exciting developments on the excavation within the Paddock Trench recently is the discovery of a potential Norman House. Dr. Stuart Prior is particularly excited about this as it was originally thought that this was an Anglo-Saxon stone house, however, recent evidence points to possible Norman occupation. Previously a 14th-15th century house was found within the same trench, which has now been removed. Within the demolition layer of the potential Norman structure, a coin dating to the reign of Henry VI (1421-1471) has been discovered, which gives us a date for the final period in which this building was in use. The foundation layer has yet to be excavated and until then, we cannot be sure of the exact date of original occupation. The next key developments of the potential Norman house excavation will be to find the South and West walls.


Students working in the potential Norman House
This year we have brought in further techniques to investigate if these walls extend further than the boundaries of the current trench in the paddock. Henry Webber and Mike Langlon (MARLA geoscience) are carrying out a research project this year, using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and electromagnetic resistivity to see if they can locate where these potential walls are. GPR involves electromagnetic pulses being sent into the ground, which are then reflected back up, highlighting any buried features or items. This information is then processed onto a computer to illustrate any potential archaeological features detected by the machine.

 
Two more test pits (trenches 17 & 18) have been dug near the castle gateway, due to interesting anomalies found on the data from using these geophysical techniques. Trench 18 was hoping this anomaly was a burial, although after the discovery of a suspected 17th century stone drain, this now seems unlikely. Trench 17 has been dug in a North/South alignment, and they have been hoping to find evidence of Anglo-Saxon burials. So far, only the top layer of soil has been removed but students have already found a piece of 12th Century pottery and a 17th Century musket ball, which would indicate that they are digging the backfill from when the ditch around the castle was filled.

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