Updated: Jul 17, 2019
This week the south end of Trench 23 began to be exposed. The first few days had the BERTs and Neil as well as Joe, supervising that area. Mattocking and hoeing the exposed areas quickly found archaeology a few centimetres below the surface.
The focus quickly switched to troweling and brushing as more of the large (2.5m by 1.5m) daub structure was exposed; while this was happening the BERTs cleaned and drew sections and did photography of the top end of the trench.
As the end of the week rolled round, more theories were put forward for the function of the structure, including grain storage or other structures for the malting complex - as of today (the 13th) it currently stands that it's still a kiln.
The other interesting development was the detection in section of a 1/2 centimetre thick burning layer 2-3 inches below the kiln which will warrant investigation later in the season.
Elsewhere on Trench 23, the detailed sampling on Malthouse 3 began, taking up to 20 L of soil from 1 m squares from a grid laid out over the what is currently a daub rubble layer. So far, over 400 L has been sampled - more than the entirety of last season - with the majority already floated and slowly drying all over the camp site. With the project now in full swing, and with courses starting next week, indoor space is becoming a valuable commodity.
Over on Trench 25, a large quantity of Thetford ware has been found, probably dating this activity to before the Viking invasion, acting as the fill of a series of postholes close to each other. One of these pots appears to have been extremely large, and acted as a container for mussels. It would appear that the posts were related to the water management feature, possibly acting as a wharf to a navigational canal. This was most probably used for transporting goods up and down the valley, as the river Heacham appears to have been made unnavigable by the creation of reed dams and mills, and so the canal is likely connected to the malting process occurring in Trench 23. As such, it is clear that a large scale of activity may be present at Anglo-Saxon Sedgeford, with the processed malt possibly transported down the valley on flat-bottomed boats, and seafood taken on the return journey.
Our landscape team have also begun excavations. After a week spent augering in the Reeddam to trace the path of the canal, they have now begun a test pit in the woods. As can be expected, the appearance of roots has naturally slowed their process, but a large quantity of coal has already been found, probably dropped from a 19th-century cart.
Friday night saw Boneyard Field host Steve Tyrell, entertaining us with his acoustic covers of a wide range of songs, including his own. Steve will be returning on the 2nd of August, and we look forward to having another evening of live music.
We also have the Festival of Archaeology next Sunday, on the 21st. Preparations are already well underway, with costumes being made for everyone from the prize Anglo-Saxon Teddy Bear to a Roman soldier. Shields are also being painted this coming week, instead of our usual Thursday night discussion, ready for a mock battle between children on the day.
Talk this week
The talk this week was on the various parts of the site, how they fitted together as a collective, and the impact of this site on the people and area around and the scale of the operation that was taking place on the site. Many thanks to Neil and John for their interesting talk and overview of area in and around Sedgeford in the 8th century.
Next week, we have a talk from Hannah Caroe and Mark McKerracher on the Anglo-Saxon landscape.For details of this and our other talks and events, please click here.