paid off having had a machine to remove so much of the topsoil as it
meant that everyone, and this was especially important for the new
volunteers, were straight into serious archaeology. After a guided tour
and a visit to the finds department to see Hanwell's greatest hits as
far as discoveries were concerned, we had most people spaced out along
the eastern side of the wall to the central island uncovering rubble and
more. Meanwhile Verna and Sarah began the long delayed task of drawing
the elevation of the wall on the north east side of the island. After
lunch we had a bit of a swap round with work beginning again down in the
lower levels of silt to the south. All over by 4.00 p.m. but a great
start to the fortnight.
Everyone starts work cleaning rubble from the partially collapsed
wall, social spacing looking good.
Verna and Sarah battle with lines and tapes to get set up for their
Back on the wall Nina and Evie have been promoted to clean along the
top whilst Ian and John have been sent into the pit where they
discover... wonderful things.
Sarah, excused from measuring, is sent into lonely exile to recover a
rather fine, although partially broken wine bottle, only a highly
qualified museum professional is allowed to carry this kind of stuff
Day two saw the arrival of Toby and
Nathan and as well as more rubble clearance we also made great
progress on planning and elevation drawing, the high light of the
day, however, was the discovery of a remarkably fine base and stem
of a glass goblet, all admirably handled by the now
re-activated finds department..
The start of the day, Evie draws pots whilst Maurice, Ian and Nina dig
silt, someone has to do it.
Nina is drawn away to act as measurer in chief as we draw the
elevation of the south wall whilst on their first day back Nathan and
Toby polish rubble.
However, the main attraction was Maurice's discovery of a marvelous
glass goblet base and stem, a tricky bit of excavation prior to
lifting... and here it is.
Up at the finds department it is cleaned up and further research
reveals a very close parallel from Martin Biddle's excavations at
Nonsuch Palace, specifically in their catalogue of Venetian and Facon
glass number 43, described in these terms:
Fragmentary wine or beer glass, greyish colourless glass with
overall iridescent weathering. Flat based conical bowl with
rigaree-trail round basal angle, mounted directly on a hollow
spherical ribbed knop which is in turn joined by a merese to a
rising foot, below which is a small neat pontil-scar. Probably
Venetian, about 1670' R.J. Charleston... couldn't have put it
better myself. Certainly the dating is spot on.
]Meanwhile Ian excavates a length of wood, current best guesses
include a distaff, or a shillelagh or a hurling stick, and we have
Day three didn't have so much drama but
we were delighted to welcome Jasmine and Emilia as new volunteers.
Otherwise it was a day spent clearing silt, washing finds, polishing
rubble and drawing walls. All of it important stuff but a little low
on the excitement quotient.
Toby and Peter heading north in their quest for the wall, Ian and
Nathan still down in the depths and Chris, Emilia and Jasmine are
stuck in the middle polishing rubble... a normal day on site.
Day four saw us extending our reach to
the north and attempting to finish off the last bit of clearance of
the lowest levels of silt along the south west side of the site. As
part of this I took it upon myself to clear the remnants of a small
baulk left opposite the corner of the south end of the west side.
This had been left in place as a temporary dam whilst the water
levels were high but when I started to lift the remaining rubble a
very unremarkable looking chunk turned into an extraordinary piece
of architecture once prized from the mud. The evening saw a very
agreeable gathering to share... out of doors and with appropriate
social distancing of course... a BBQ.
Nina and Evie take on some serious spadework whilst Maurice, Chelsea
and Nathan try to see the back of the last of the really sticky stuff.
Nina and Evie receive their reward, it's time to draw some wall.
Back in the mud Chelsea uncovers probably the largest piece of window
glass seen so far, even if it is in several pieces
Such was the excitement at the time that we didn't get any photos of
the lifting of this piece so here it is cleaned and on display up in
the courtyard of the Coach House.
Day five and we said some goodbyes and
some hellos but it was very much a day of tying up loose ends
and reorganizing equipment prior to Sarah and I departing for
Croft Castle the following week.
Social time over the mid-morning coffee break then back to cleaning
Verna and Nina draw more walls whilst Chelsea contemplates finds
before catching her train.
... and at the end of a busy week we have a serious collection of
finds trays to process.... next week.
Week two had Verna in the driving seat
with Ian as second in command, as we welcomed back some old hands
from the previous week and said 'hello' to Lucy another new recruit.
Not so much photographic coverage but suffice it to say that an
amazing job was dome by everyone in practically finishing the
onerous task of exposing the 'sea of rubble' or 009 as it is more
prosaically known and washing serious quantities of finds. This
week's celebration was a very fine tea laid on for us on Thursday by
our ever gracious hosts Rowena and Christopher.
Some more interesting architecture starting to emerge amongst the
rubble as the last of it is exposed.
Wall cleaning is an important task before completing the planning and
still the finds keep emerging from the silt, bits of wine bottle this
Poor weather and general exhaustion
meant that after two weeks of full on digging we took a bit of a
break for house-keeping, including taking down, washing, drying and
storing away until the next 'big dig' one of the gazebos. We did
squeeze in a couple more days on site before the end of the month
with some serious digging underway before storm Francis hit us with
heavy rain and strong winds and that was it until September!
Washing down the mud-stained gazebo a key archaeological skill.
Peter and Chris trim section edges whilst Rupert and Kate get to grips
with rubble polishing. John explores a notably large
chunk of wall plaster while Verna contemplates drawing the next metre
square of rubble and then...
The storm hit and we...
... retreated to the finds department to get some washing, sorting and