Day five of excavations!

As it is the last year, we’ve decided to go out with a bang and open up three trenches (we like a challenge, and looking at the amount of archaeology in each they will certainly present one!). The main aim this year is to understand the space around the cemetery – so that we can connect the burial population with their lived environment. This is probably not literally possible because evidence of sixth century buildings has been scarce in the past. However, the quantity of Middle and Later Saxon archaeology is incredible with massive eighth century ditches criss-crossing the recreation ground. After machine stripping we suspected that we could see buildings – and it is down to the diggers to use the evidence to date these. By lunchtime on day five, it looks promising with some nice un-abraded handmade pottery (sixth century) in a small gully but we can’t assume anything, one of the nicest looking pre-exaction features has turned out to be Iron Age with cord ware fragments.

So where are we digging?

Trench one is an extension of the 2010 and 2012 trenches to the west alongside Queens Way. In 2012 we excavated the brick vault in which the 1996/7 human remains had been buried (in 2000 and alongside a time casual). When we removed the brick walls of the vault, we found two graves which had been partially truncated by the construction. This year we will see if there are any more in this area – so far we have found some infant bone and a human metatarsal (a toe) so it looks promising.

Our second trench is one of the largest we have ever taken on. Its aim is to establish the full extent of the sixth century cemetery - the graves excavated in 2007 extended up to where rec building’s glass doors are now. We need to learn if these burials were outliers or if they were part of a bigger cluster of graves. However, the geophysics (done in 2010) suggested some big ditches which we were able to excavate with the aim of identifying the surrounding landscape features to see how the Anglo-Saxon communities connected the burial space and the cemetery evidence.

Trench three has been located in the far eastern end of the ground. It is long and thin. Its will help us understand the whole sequence of archaeology – between the early Saxon and late medieval. At one end by the trees we started to dig a huge medieval ditch – the edge of the world, well the village at least. We have already found a silver coin (12th century) and a whole pile of 11-12th century pottery fragments. At the other end, we have postholes and buildings evidence.

We will be posting longer updates like this blog regularly as things develop; we hope to discuss some of our highlights over the last five years, as well as the various specialist elements that go into coordinating a project of this size.

We have some great outreach to do today, tonight is the pub dinner night which means we will be challenging the locals in the battle to win the wooden spoon at tonight’s quiz! And watching the England Game.

-Bones without Barriers