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SHARP 2023: Week 2

During the second week of the SHARP summer season, we experienced a few downpours that stopped play. But in between the rain, we made good progress and the site continued to reveal some surprises.

Up slope, in the southern end of the trench, kiln 5 has been intriguing. It seems to be a large feature and although we are getting lots of evidence that would be associated with this feature being a kiln (burnt grain, charcoal and daub) – until now no recognisable in situ kiln structures revealed. But on the first day of this week, after removing a layer of daub, there seems to be the outline of a kiln on the one side. As the week progressed, we started to sample this area. Most seem to indicate the location of the kiln but one area with burning and clay but no daub is currently confusing. Perhaps we are still too high to be reaching the remains of the kiln proper? Hopefully the coming weeks will enable it to become clearer.

In the most southernly area of the trench, the clay seems to be a floor of some kind – but its relationship with other features is still uncertain. To find out more, we have had to extend our digging area within the trench and are now taking the section back. We will let you know how this investigation progresses.

Our work on excavating the remaining daub out of kiln 3 has started and we potentially have another post hole emerging, perhaps similar to the one we found in kiln 2. This has been a challenging job for our volunteers, as the daub both inside and outside of the kiln is quite compacted.

Another challenge has been the decision around removing samples from within kiln 4. The compacted layer of clay or daub was a thin layer and as we lifted it, the inside of the kiln was revealed. We have now started to excavate the fill and this kiln appears to be very similar to kiln 3, in several ways. However, a small pocket of burnt grain and charcoal was discovered at the back of the kiln and this has us pondering several questions.

Recording kiln 4

We continue to investigate kiln 2. This has involved clearing the rubble near the entrance, around the daub lined post hole. This daub might help us to better understand the construction of this kiln. A possible post hole cut into the clay next to this kiln potentially represents a wall between the germinating floor and the kiln. Careful excavation has revealed horizontal waffle marks on the inside surfaces of the kiln but these seem to be within the area of the back of the kiln and not the later repairs. As we recover more large pieces of daub that have curved edges matching the post hole, we are hoping to be able to reconstruct the post hole as much as we can.

The volunteer working on the steeping tank has discovered quite a deep layer of burnt wattle under the clay floor on the western side. As we excavate more, we will look at whether this is part of an earlier phase or whether it is another post hole.

As we make steady progress with trench 24, the number of environmental samples are mounting up and the Enviro team and their volunteers have been working really hard to clear the backlogs.

The human remains team have been working in the church this week. Volunteers took part in some refresher training in skeletal anatomy on Sunday and then laid out some of the skeletons that were excavated from boneyard field between 1996 and 2007. They spent the week checking the existing skeletal records and investigating relevant contexts to see whether bone from these contexts, that was lifted as disarticulated bone, could be re-associated with the incomplete articulated skeletons.

HR supervisor keeps an eye on our volunteers

On Sunday evening, Kali gave us our onsite quiz this week and an enjoyable time was had by all. It was a close match with a draw for 3rd and 4th places and only one point between the winners and 2nd place.

On Tuesday evening SHARP Human Remains supervisor, Dr Sophie Beckett gave a talk about SHARP’s participation in a large study on ancient DNA. It was very well attended and some exiting results are emerging. This lecture was recorded and we hope to be able to upload this to our Lectures Digital Trench soon.

This week, Anj Beckham took volunteers on a tour of the village and explained about the different excavations and work carried out by SHARP over the years. This was an excellent tour and Anj will be doing more tours over the next few weeks.

The rain prevented much work on trench on Friday and so instead, we did finds cleaning, paperwork and a contour map and even some crafts – making clay Saxon buildings. The Enviro team certainly benefitted with extra pairs of hands.

As the rain cleared, we ended the week with some live music and then our usual karaoke.

The King Willian Pub has been really helpful and supportive this week, when SHARP faced some logistical issues with our showers. Thank you – it has been very much appreciated by the SHARP team and volunteers onsite.


Keep up to date via SHARP’s Digital Trenches and social media posts! Check out our weekly video blogs about SHARP’s activities this summer on the 2023 Summer Season Digital Trench. The video for Week 2 has now been uploaded and available to view. If you haven’t already registered on the Digital Trenches site, you can do so by via the SHARP website. If you would like to be notified when new content is uploaded, subscribe to the Site News/ Latest News Forum. Follow us on Facebook for our daily updates of progress and discoveries made on trench, posted by Dr Ellie Blakelock in her Director Site Diary.

Are you wondering what to do after the summer season ends? Will you miss the archaeology? Book a place on SHARP’s new online short course! This is a new and exciting venture for SHARP and the Human Remains team have created a course on Cremation and Cremated Remains in Archaeology. This starts in September 2023 but you can find out more information on the SHARP website and you can book your place now at the introductory rate of £50.


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