CAER 2017 Begins... Thursday 4th May!

CAER 2017 Begins... Thursday 4th May!
What will be uncovered this year?
We're back for our 11th season during which examination of trench IV will be continued. Our work will examine the interior of the masonry building (the possible chapel) with its drain discharging into the ditch, the western part of the ditch feature where it is overlain by the medieval building and the underlying deposits. This year trench IV will also be extended to the south in order to locate and examine a stone structure identified during the excavation of a service trench in 2013.
Keep up to date with all the discoveries, brought to you by our daily bloggers.

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Friday, 20 May 2011

Through stained glass...

Emily updates us on yesterday's progress -
Today we started our day with planning - not world domination, but in our trench - the large bit between the two field drains, which includes a lot of building debris. Although it sounds a bit dull, drawing what is on the surface onto a grid, it can also be challenging and gives a really close insight into the archaeology and allows one to pick up details and features which one wouldn’t see at first. For instance, we found two as yet unidentified metal objects and could make out changes in the soil, which gave evidence of the structure of our mystery building. Meanwhile, at the north egde of the trench, excavators revealed a long ditch aligned with large stone slabs, the function and significance of which is unclear, but that is the charm of archaeology - you don’t really know what you’re dealing with and when you finally start to figure it out, something new comes up and changes everything.

We continued our day with excavating and focusing on a section, getting carried away and burnt by the sun in return, which shone on and off all the time, making it all in all a nice day in comparison to the previous rainy ones. The section in the west part of the trench revealed the usual - bone, pottery...and a lot of window glass! Some was still quite intact and similar to the one found previously in the south eastern part of the trench.

I would also like to take this as an opportunity to apologize to Bert the Squirrel who got a fright by a flying glove. Sorry, little one!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

A day of recording

Zoe updates us on today's activities -
Today we spent the morning working with the finds already uncovered at the beginning of the excavation. We took some of our washed and cleaned finds from the previous session, and our job was to label them with the site code and context number. This involved using Indian ink and carefully inscribing all the relevant information onto the find.
This was tricky at first, because most of us had not had the practise of working with that sort of ink before. It was sometimes tricky to work out where the information should be written, and sometimes the find was too small to fit all the information onto it!
In the afternoon, myself and the rest of the group were asked to take our turn at section drawing, which involved observing the soil at the edge of the trench, taking a measurement of each layer, and recording it down onto a piece of paper. Hopefully when all the drawings are put together they should form a sort of vertical map of the site (and no-one will be able to see where we have rubbed out mistakes!).

Singing in the Rain....

Ali sings 'Do the Conga' and perhaps has a touch of trench-fever already! -

It was a rainy beginning to the day, but it did not break our spirits. We were still singing 'The Conga'.
Joe and Lewis were tunneling... I mean excavating... most of the day ('Do do do'...) Bev, Mark, Anna and I spent most of the day planning. Thank god for umbrellas! They are very useful for protecting drawings. (Do do do...)
I discovered many useful pointers for completing elements within my assessment for the dig. Cheryl is a star for putting up with us all day.
Gary very nearly became a girl in an unfortunate accident, but luckily quick reactions and communication by a shouting Mark prevented this. Mark did not even nose-dive into the trench or swan-dive today! However, he did display good creative dancing skills whilst avoiding the drainage ditch.

Ali signing off (Do do do, come on and do the Conga......)

Heidi admitted to committing ant murder with her trowel. She watched guiltily as they tried to carry their eggs away to safety. They seemed to get revenge, however, as she ended the day by saying 'I think I inhaled one of the ants.'

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Day 6 - Bert the squirrel

Lyndsay manages to write an update even after mattocking most of the day -
Today was an eventful day. In the morning we were sent down to remove a plinth of soil that stuck out like a sore thumb before having group B’s first photography session.
Here we learnt about the zoom, focus and how these cameras are so much better than mine, which is broken and sitting in my wardrobe somewhere. It was then explained that there are two types of photography used in archaeology: the commercial and the academic shots. Commercial shots are all the awe-inspiring elemental shots on front covers and for those of us working hard on things such as newspapers and blogs!! But as we were focusing on the academic side, our shots were for recording purposes. We looked through the camera eye piece to frame the final photo, we added scales and important information on a photo board, such as the site reference, trench number and a north arrow. All in all this was a really good experience and I wish we could have seen the pictures, but the laptop decided to play up and refused to let us see them!
In the afternoon we were excavating again, but this time we were taking a context off and setting up a section so that we’ll be able to draw it eventually. This was exhausting, but well worth it. We found tons of slate and brick using the mattock and rotated so that our arms didn’t drop off! Soon though Andrew finished drawing and the boys came back from finds cleaning and with their help we managed to get the top layer off, so tomorrow we’ll hopefully be able to see if there’s anything interesting (or sinister) underneath the building rubble!
During the afternoon break, Mark’s friend Bert the squirrel came to look for him, but he’d disappeared. But don’t worry Mark! Heidi fed him her fruit flakes before bullying Andrew into giving him the last of his afternoon snacks!

Day 6 - Learning the ropes: section drawing and finds processing

Katie H. describes non-digging activities -
My morning began with finds processing, where we were finally able to reveal the artefacts from the mud and soil covering them. It was nice to finally be inside in the warmth, instead of being cold and damp in the trench. We were able to warm our hands whilst cleaning pieces of pottery, glass, bone and the large array of clay tobacco pipes. On our break Julie even made us a cup of tea to complete the hospitality, which we thank her for greatly! Brushing the mud off artefacts was actually quite therapeutic and calming, and generally set the day off to a good start. We can now begin to get a clearer picture of what was happening on the site and having sherds of pottery dating from around the 16th century we can get an idea of the dates that we are looking at.
After lunch I, along with my group, started section drawing, which we had never undertaken before. After adjusting to the scale of the drawing, the trench became clearer and the different layers and levels in the ground were explored. A detailed drawing of the layers was revealed.
We had no rain today (which we were very grateful for). Although overcast and slightly chilly, once you were set doing something you never really felt the cold! All in all the excavation is proving a success so far and day by day we are discovering more about the history behind the area.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Rain for Monday.. but still we dig.

Day 5 - Week Two Begins
Lewis reports from a soggy but still cheerful trench -
In spite of the overcast conditions (and the fact that it was a Monday morning), the excavation got off pretty much the same as most of the other days. This primarily involved the trench being cleaned, resulting in even more finds being uncovered. Although, surprisingly only a small handful of clay pipe was found today.
There were other activities going on at the site, as well, such as photographing the site (see pic of my group getting instructions) and site planning.
Despite the sun coming out during lunch, which gave us a chance to play ball in the park, this didn't last very long. The miserable weather returned for the rest of the day with heavy rain for the most part of the last session. This didn't seem to affect my group much as Adam and Joe did their best to boost moral.

The building emerges

Mark starts us off early on Monday morning -
Now that a good deal of the compacted overburden has been prized from between the gaps in the 17th c. rubble surface, it is much easier to envisage the footprint of the building previously mentioned by Heidi. Regularly occuring padstones on which timber posts may have sat protrude over the surrounding building debris. These padstones do not appear to be of homogenous manufacture. One appears to be made of a series of mortared Tudor-style bricks indicating that materials from an older building was used, and this structure may have been a service or lower status wing rather than a mansion hall (if at all associated with Cholmondley's Hall). A medieval green glaze sherd was also found in this level.
Metallic artefacts have not been abundant at the dig as yet, but an interesting copper alloy chain and attached "T" bar (see pic - possibly part of a suspension mechanism, size approximately 30mm x 30 mm), was found centrally within the structure footprint. Director Simon Ward also poined out what could have been a brick pathway, leading to what would have been the south wall. Supervisor Gary's policy of brutal troweling and cries of 'That's not deep enough!' have visibly paid off.