Voyages to the House of Diversion 
Seventeenth-Century Water Gardens and the Birth of Modern Science

May 2018 - Sun, Sun, Sun


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After a couple months of thoroughly wet weather things picked up no end with the start of May. Digging wise we continued clearing the silts from the ditch on the west side of the central island and came across significant quantities of demolition debris and some interesting pottery fragments. As we now appear to have hit the water table in at least three locations we really need a dry summer or a pump. We were also able to make progress with the finds sheds, laying the remaining slabs and putting up the best part of the first shed before the bank holiday weekend. particular congratulations should be recorded to the members of the Chipping Campden History Society who came over on the morning of Wednesday May 2nd. for a tour and it poured down... they did not flinch.



May
Interesting pottery appearing in the silting of the ditch...



May
... and here's some cleaned up, it's great to find stuff for a change.




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The growing expanse of rubble in the base of the ditch.



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It's a bit sad to get excited about the putting up of a shed, especially when it's plastic but here we go:the base then the first corner...




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all the sides and then the roof... just the doors to go.



Back on site the following week we finished a rough clean of the western extension to the ditch down to the surface of the packed rubble filling with more finds coming up, particularly useful being the continuing series of clay pipes from the late seventeenth/early eighteenth centuries giving us a secure date for the sealing of the the destruction levels below accumulating silts. As we finished to the west the northern extension was judged dry enough to return to, albeit working from boards, so we could clean that all up for planning then photography. On a quiet day in between I put up the second of our two sheds in something like the four and a half hours advertised by the makers but then I had already had the practice with shed number 1.



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Ian works himself into a corner finishing off the western extension whilst I assemble the planks to give access to the lower portions of the north section.




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Two sheds: one for finds the other for equipment now all safely locked away and the combination is....




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Matt works on revealing the full extent of some of our larger stones and Ian relocates the working platform.




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All systems go as Ian and Helen clear back up the slope at an increasingly uncomfortable angle whilst Matt draws rubble. Up top I've just scraped over the top of the clay platform to prove... there's nothing there.




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Another intriguing find from the rubble, our biggest chunk of horticultural ceramic yet.


As week three began we continued to focus on the northern extension on the basis that a controlled dig here would enable us to plumb the depths as it were so that we could use any discoveries to inform our approach to the rest of the site. So it was that after a further clean over followed by plan and section drawing, thanks to Helen and Matt for this, then photography, we were able to start to strip away the remaining debris layer higher up the mound to see the full extent of the rubble filled ditch. This paid off handsomely as we quickly came upon a couple of very well preserved facing stones which must be marking the line of the perimeter wall. The following day with the help of Matt and Chris we extended the examination of this wall a further metre to the west finding a slumped block which we carefully re-instated. The lower courses were excessively friable, presumably because of their former exposure to water, let's hope for better lower down.




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Cleaning plus drawing underway, note the presence of fallen leaves. Photography underway, terrible lighting, note the absence of leaves. Thank the mighty leaf blower.. that's a machine in case you wondered.




May
Tidying up to the edge.




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... and a little more.




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... and then blocks start to appear, remember the old adage, "one stone's a stone, two stones are an alignment...




May
... and three stones are a wall". Great excitement as the perimeter wall is identified for the first time.




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Here's a fallen block later on put back in place as good as new.



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Work procedes apace with the lure of a brand new gazebo to luxuriate under.