Heslington East Community Archaeology Project

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Monday 9th May 2011

we were somewhere around heslington east on the edge of a field when the
sun began to take hold. i remember saying something like, “i’m feeling
lightheaded; maybe you should trowel.” martyn assumed the troweling
position and began to clean the dirt to attempt to uncover the east-west
linear feature which may or may not be there. i stood back and suddenly
there was a terrible roar all around and the sky was full of what looked
like cobbles and vast amounts of top-soil, all swooping and bouncing and
flying past me, who was reaching about a hundred degrees in shorts and
shirt. and the voice was screaming “i’ve found something!”

i looked over and waited with bated breath. i could see mark ultizing the
double handed scoop practice to quickly and efficiently shift dirt. we
edged in. suddenly, mark stood up and thrusted, to the partially cloudy sky
with 12kph winds south westerly, a piece of pottery. probably samian wear.
be still my beating heart. and at that moment, i knew what i wanted to do;
find something more exciting. i troweled. i troweled until my muscles
burned and my veins pumped battery acid. then i troweled some more. alas,
after the unrelenting sun beating down on my b...

3 comments | 10th May 2011, 04:08:19 | Posted by Cath Neal | Blog

Friday 6th May

There was definitely a Friday feeling today, the overnight rain was great for the mornings work but by the afternoon it was getting distinctly warm again and very dry. Through the afternoon a number of lines of enquiry started to bear fruit; Alex’s team discovered a hearth and possible roof tiles within their large cobble spread, Fran discovered that the large, dark area beside the Bronze Age cremation vessel appeared to be another cremation, but without a surviving pot ths time and in Claires area the discovery of a cache of hobnails indicated the loss of a Roman shoe!! Everyone left wearily but satisfied with their work, looking forward (?) to returning bright eyed and bushy tailed on Monday……

1 comment | 9th May 2011, 05:22:44 | Posted by Cath Neal | Blog

Wed 4th of May 2011

The first week of the excavation is complete and despite some absence over the bank holidays everyone is making progress and cleaning /defining features successfully. We have five groups of students working across four areas, but all in the same field, just north of where contractors are putting in a major road.
Alistair and Claire’s groups are working in an area partially excavated last year and have increasing evidence for built structures, including from this Monday, at least two phases of activity.
David’s group has a small trench just above the springline with an intriguing cobbled area looking similar to the wells discovered in other areas of the site, so time will tell!
James and Alex with their groups have very large areas but have been making excellent progress in defining things and cleaning up. In these areas the bright sunlight and dry sand make it difficult to see what is going on so we keep praying for rain, which is apparently on the way.
We had a couple of visitors this week, Allan Hall came to talk to us about the environment and wider context of the site and Malin Holst, osteologist, came to advise us about lifting a probable Bronze Age cremation. Colleagues ...

28 comments | 5th May 2011, 05:27:04 | Posted by Cath Neal | Blog

Friday 15th April 2011

Our third excavation area was quickly completed as the natural orange clay of the area was very near the surface and there was relatively little archaeology here, where the archaeology is can often be seem starkly in the relationship between the orange clay and brown sandy silt.

The fourth area seems more problematic though as the hillwash deposits make it deep and the area is very large, so a dumper truck is required to speed the process of topsoil stripping up. Some of the archaeological features seem to appear closer to the the surface than others and so it is a little more tricky to decide exactly what level to strip to with the machine.

Towards the end of the day a hydraulic cable snapped in the excavator making a useful early start to the weekend!

1 comment | 15th April 2011, 15:19:59 | Posted by Anonymous | Blog

Thursday 14th April 2011

Because I had my thermal vest on the day was much brighter, or so it seemed. We found the rectangular cobbled foundation that we excavated in 2008 and were looking for features around it to give it a broader context.

We were joined by two ducks who were enjoying the rich pickings of worms left by the excavator. Colleagues from OnSite Archaeology are working alongside us, in an area of a road corridor which the developers are ready to start work on – the work is slightly delayed by the discovery of a complicated timber and wattle lined well, and archaeologists are going to be working 7 days this week to ensure that the road development can go ahead as planned next week.

1 comment | 14th April 2011, 15:19:27 | Posted by Anonymous | Blog