Saturday, June 7, 2014

When the weather gets tough, the tough keep digging!!

Due to adverse weather conditions in Berkeley this past week the excavation had to be abandoned for a day on Wednesday. On returning to glorious sunshine for the final two days of the week, the social media team spoke with site Supervisor Emily Glass to discuss recent developments in the trench and what plans are afoot for next week's final week of excavation for 2014.
Site Director Prof. Mark Horton assists with the draining of the main trench
As a result of Wednesday’s torrential rainfall, the east and west ends of the trench unfortunately became heavily waterlogged, particularly in the area of intercutting ditches. The plan to expose the possible Tudor building by removing a layer of building rubble from demolition was temporarily halted due to this area being underwater and excavation was delayed while it was pumped out (thank you Prof. Horton!).
This meant that on Thursday the students were concentrated on working across the mid-section of the trench and, as Emily explained, this was “to take advantage of the damp conditions and give the central area of Trench 8 a really good trowel-up to clean and expose the existing features after the rainfall”; these features being a Roman surface, the remains of an Anglo-Saxon building, pits and other surrounding features that have yet to be fully defined.

Students continue cleaning the central area of Trench 8
The BIG news of the week was the discovery that the building we have been calling the Norman house for the past three years is not actually of Norman date! This area had fared reasonably well considering the extremely high level of rainfall on Wednesday and the excavation and recording work was able to continue on the interior, including the excavation of a pit which contained post-Norman pottery. The wall of the former 'Norman' house was constructed over this pit, therefore the building is now thought to date to around the 14th century. However, all things Norman are not lost. It was also revealed that this 14th century structure was an extension to an earlier phase of building, closer to the line of the road, and which may turn out to be our new Norman house!
It has been great to get stuck back into some decent digging following the disappointing weather and unsafe conditions that the rain brought with it. Now that the site has been drained off, the fantastic work in the east and west ends of the trench can continue and bring us new challenges and discoveries. We look forward to to next week when we will be hosting our pottery specialist Paul Blinkhorn, Current Archaeology Magazine's Assistant Editor Carly Hilts and an additional group of students from America for the final week of digging on the Berkeley Castle Project!

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