Season 2018, Week 1
Wow, what a busy week! – the work in Trench 23 has been proceeding at pace – ably assisted by this week’s BERTs. They have spent the majority of their sessions gaining hands-on experience of mattocking, hoeing, trowelling, drawing sections, writing context sheets, photographing, and using the dumpy to take levels. It has been hot on trench this week, however, we now have a cool box in the Trench to keep people’s water in, and a robust ex-military decontamination tent (only ever used for training!) to provide the shade. We have also had the assistance of the large yellow mattock in the form of Ollie driving a digger which has been pulling back and removing from trench the bulk colluvium which would have taken days if done by hand. And a first for this year, alongside our normal complement of Supervisors we have 3 Supervisors in Training – Jess and Harry working within Trench 23 and Kathryn is working with John and Brian, as she is particularly interested in standing buildings. Harry says his first week has been fun and that he is becoming less confused by the archaeology. He has also learnt that he can’t be in three places at once!
The work has concentrated on ‘kiln 1’ in the central area of the trench (note we are trying to avoid referring to it as an ‘oven’), where we are planning to open up all the structures that are associated with it so as to see the relationship between all the elements of the malthouse. We have had our archaeological illustrator and reconstruction artist, Dan Secker, with us this week working on a drawing of the complex. Finds of the week include bone, shell (perforated with 3 boreholes in a triangle configuration) and a nice large pot sherd from a Mid Saxon Ipswichware storage jar. At the end of this first week, Neil say’s that it has been confirmed beyond all reasonable doubt that what we have is the first Middle Saxon Malthouse ever seen.
In addition to the BERTs working alongside other volunteers in trench, the ‘Medieval’ team (Brian, John and Kathryn) have been shovel-pitting in the woods and finding quite a few bits of pottery – this includes a fair amount of Iron Age, some representation from all the Saxon phases and a few pieces of Medieval. They have also been preparing for their course next week ‘Unlocking Sedgeford’s Medieval Past’ and looking for potential sites of the water mills that are known to have existed along the Heacham River.
This week’s speaker Paddy Lambert delivered a very lively and entertaining lecture on Roman Roads. Did you know that less that 4% of the roads that the Romans constructed were paved, and that the majority are in the north of England. This was essentially due to the practicalities of finding the materials – ie the stone.
Next week’s lecture is being given by Matt Champion on Medieval Graffiti in churches and will take place at 7:30 at St Marys Church Sedgeford which has quite a collection of its own Medieval Graffiti.
On the domestic and social front, although there have been few people staying on site this week (quite a few are staying off site), we have had our film evening, the lecture, a quiz night, and a games evening. The new electric showers are working well, and people are pleased that they no longer need to walk down the track for a shower – although the toilets are still down the track. The food, as last year, is excellent !
Dates for the diary
20th July -The Mardling Acre performed by Hugh Lupton – a programme of folk tales, legends, memories, music and songs from the gossiping acres of East Anglia. Tickets £20 (includes meal and drink) Friends and members £15. Please purchase your tickets either from the campsite or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
29th July - Open Day from 10am to 4pm: We have a whole series of talks and displays about our research, along with the chance to see our excavations at first hand, as well as our recent finds. Plus plenty of activities to engage children.