Dig Berkeley Week 2 – Trench 8 Roundup

 Week two has passed very quickly but our students have achieved a lot in the four days on site.
Students hard at work

The possible Anglo-Saxon ditch has been excavated and cleaned up. One small section was left in situ so we can show visitors next week how the ditch filled up and the wall that was then cut through the top of the backfilled ditch.
Cleaning the possible Anglo-Saxon ditch 
NNW terminal end of ditch

Now the ditch has been excavated we can see that the terminal end is very square with almost vertical sides. One small piece of pottery was found in a fill excavated from the terminal end. It was a small piece of Severn Valley ware which was produced in the Roman period. This doesn't mean that the ditch is Roman, the sherd is most likely residual, meaning that this has made its way into the ditch fills from a disturbed Roman context. We are fairly confident that the ditch is late Anglo-Saxon in date but we will need to radiocarbon date some of the bone from it to be certain.

Students sieving fills excavated from our possible Anglo-Saxon ditch
Ditch after cleaning one section of this feature and later wall that cuts through it have been left in situ

Students have also been cleaning and recording the east wall of a 15th century building and an earlier bread oven it was built over. They have dug a section into the clay behind the wall and oven to try and help us understand the story of the site. 

East wall of a 15th century building built over a bread oven

All of the occupation evidence we have excavated in the last 10 years has been dug into layers of red clay. We currently have at least eight red clay layers, each associated with a period of occupation, so one layer is associated with 11th century occupation and another is associated with the 15th century building etc. As this is the last year we need to make sure we fully understand the layers and have got the sequence correct so sections like this are incredibly helpful! 

Dr Siân Thomas checking context sheets
As we are doing this we are also checking the 700+ context sheets we have to make sure they are all correct and that we have the recorded the history of occupation in Trench 8 as accurately as possible.

Finally, on Friday we began excavating the circular feature we recorded last year. There has been some debate about what this feature was. It became obvious fairly quickly that it was in fact a well or perhaps a sump, which is fantastic! 

The rubble-filled well looking south

It appears it was stone lined and when it went out of use a lot of stone was dumped in the interior to cap it. The students have excavated down around 25cm and water is already starting to rise up. We are aiming to bottom it by Wednesday so it can be recorded by the end of next week. Wells often have very nicely preserved artefacts in their fills so fingers crossed we can get some dating evidence for it!

The rubble-filled well looking north

There is still an awful lot to do next week so hopefully the weather is kind to us. We'll keep you posted on our progress through the week and we hope to see some of you at our drop-in open evening from 5.30  - 7pm on Wednesday!