Heslington East Community Archaeology Project

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Tuesday 10th May 2011

Yesterday afternoon, the prehistoric urn burial was raised from our trench,
mummified in a protective cocoon of plastic wrap. Transfixed, we watched
with a mixture of giddy wonder, academic interest, and at least for me, the
slightly disquieted feeling that our crew was bearing witness to the very
personal tragedy of a family who had lost a child thousands of years ago.
Moments like that remind me of why I became fascinated with archaeology in
the first place.

This morning, we wondered: are there any more burials nearby? Did the two
cremations we found represent the edge of an urn field, or perhaps the
ploughed out remains of a barrow? To answer these questions, a further area
of topsoil, approximately 3m by 3m, had been stripped away from the
northwest corner of our trench, and we immediately set to trowelling down
the surface to reveal what secrets the ground was keeping from us. Though
we have yet to find any further burials, a number of interesting features
were revealed, and further excavation will hopefully tell us what
relationship these bear to the cremations. Are the features earlier, later
or contemporary with the burials? Are more burials hiding deeper within the
loose, sandy fill of those unknown features? Rather than finding concrete,
definitive answers, it seems that the true lot of the archaeologist is to
be confronted with yet more and more puzzling questions.

Gord Group F

Eight days into the excavation of group G’s trench and it’s starting to look very different. The possible pit in the Eastern end of the trench after excavation has become a curvilinear of unknown purpose (except for seemingly collecting rainwater and turning into a small puddle). The collection of larger stones and pebbles were first arduously cleared back and thought to be a standing platform next to a well; however after mattocking back and removing the stones (that took ages to define!) nothing further turned up to indicate a well. Mike’s still working his way towards the centre of the earth in his hole, unless he hits oil first. The few features that we seem to know the actual purpose of (i.e. a medieval furrow and some ditches) have produced some finds, like the bone that I accidentally shattered whilst digging out the fill of my ditch. Abbie and Seb found two animal teeth whilst clearing back the topsoil of their section of the trench, the search for the skull is still ongoing. The majority of the day was characterised by Abbie’s increasing sugar high (induced by jelly tots during breaks). In my part of the trench, all I could hear was Abbie and Seb’s conversation about clothes, Gok’s fashion week, films and when David would wander over; complaining yet that neither of them had yet to dig a proper hole (unlike Mike, who has been in the same one for six days now).

Lauren-Group G

    1 comment | 12th May 2011, 21:04:26 | Posted by Cath Neal | Blog


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