Friday, May 30, 2014

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back!

Although the weather conditions for week two at Berkeley have been less than ideal, the students have made impressive progress in the trenches and we want to update you all on our exciting new discoveries and theories.
           
Trench 14-
In this trench the students have excavated down to discover a burnt platform of clay and charcoal with burnt iron nails and degraded bricks. The current thinking suggests that this is a potential burning site of buildings during the Civil War period (1641-1651), these theories will be explored further next week. We can be sure, however, that solid burnt platforms are the remains of a significant burning event.

Trench 8-
In the paddock, significant progress has been made on a series of three intercutting ditches, located at the top end of the trench. These were discovered below multiple medieval rubbish pits, which date from  the 13th Century through to the 16th Century suggesting that the ditches below the pits are late Saxon/ Norman in date, however very little pottery has been found in the uppermost fills to support this theory. We are hoping for more evidence next week!
A copper alloy strap end uncovered in the Medieval pits

In the north-west corner of Trench 8 we have identified two phases of occupation in a building, the earliest of which may be Norman. The later phase dates to the 14th Century and we have found evidence that the building ended its use by catching fire and collapsing in the 15th Century. We can determine the date of this final event through the exciting discovery of a coin dating to Henry V’s reign (1413-1422).  There are no firm dates yet for the earlier phases of occupation in the house but it is thought to be of Norman construction.


A copper alloy finger ring found in the Norman building (Trench 8)

A photograph of Trench 8 (South East corner) at the end of week two
Excavation this week in the south-west corner of the trench has uncovered a potential new building! Below the Georgian flowerbed we encountered rubble of a Tudor building formed of hand-made red bricks. We excavated through this and encountered the remains of a possible stone building. At the moment a partial wall has been unearthed and a thick layer of patchy mortar suggests a possible floor, below which is an under floor drain. We have also discovered a number of small finds that have aided in the dating of this possible stone building. In particular, a rose farthing dating from 1642-1649 was uncovered in the Tudor rubble. For the coin to be present in the rubble the Tudor building must have been knocked down and therefore the potential stone building predates 1642.



We are really hoping that the weather will improve next week so we can explore all these projects further and we thank everyone for their hard work this week through the terrible weather!

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