SHARP 2023: Week 4
Our week started with our annual Festival of Archaeology. The wet weather over the previous few days didn’t deter visitors to the site on the day and we had a large turnout. The marquee was full of people doing a host of activities such as ‘poo’ excavation and pot making as well as trying their hand at hook a duck and their luck with the tombola. Visitors were able to see a range of information displays, including those on human remains where visitors learnt about our recent aDNA research and the early Medieval (Anglo-Saxon) individuals with cranial trauma. Refreshments were well catered with by our café and visitors had lots of fun taking part in battles between the ‘Romans’ and ‘Boudica’. The children’s trench was enjoyed by many a young budding archaeologist and our historical hunt was so popular that we almost ran out of stickers. Our supervisors gave excellent comprehensive tours to many interested visitors, of both trench 24 and the village. The Festival of Archaeology raised £1300 for SHARP and we are very grateful to everyone who came and supported us on the day and/or made a donation. Especially so this year with cost-of-living price rises. If you were not able to attend but would like to donate – this would be very much appreciated. You can donate via the SHARP website.
On trench 24 we have spent some time cleaning back after the rain this week to see if any post holes could be discovered.
We have made good progress with excavation of the fill of kiln 4 and it is starting to show its shape more. We believe we are near the base, now that the large blocks we discovered last week have been removed. The daub that is coming out have a lot of interesting features such as wattle marks, wood impressions and even finger marks.
A small section has been removed from the clay floor associated with kiln 3.
Excavation of kiln 2 is throwing up more questions such as why is there a circle of sand behind the kiln? It has proved to be only a thin lens but is very oddly placed. We are continuing to investigate the kiln wall and one of our ‘Dig for the Day’ volunteers worked on the clay floor associated with kiln 2.
Meanwhile, volunteers working on the burnt patch under the clay floor of malting house 1 are still debating whether this context runs under, within or over the clay and whether it relates to the steeping tank at all. As the week progressed more daub and burnt deposits have appeared.
The debate surrounding the location and presence of kiln 5 is still ongoing but after more sampling of excavated grid squares, we have potentially revealed the outline of the kiln itself. More outlines appeared as the week went on.
Some of our ‘Dig for the Day’ volunteers have worked on the north-south ditches that are located in the western extent of Trench 24. They might have identified the bottom of a ditch.
With rainy days continuing to be the theme of the season and the prospect of cleaning more daub being unenticing. The SHARP team and volunteers helped with the organising of the site documentary archives. Following the move from the old village hall (OVH) archive in 2021, long standing SHARP supervisor Anj Beckham has taken on the task of sorting the archives within their new location on Boneyard field and has made good progress this season. Anj will be recruiting archive volunteers for next year, to continue with this big but very vital job. With more wet weather, finds cleaning and sorting out various bits of camping equipment from one of the site stores were the rainy-day activities later in the week.
We had a visit from Tim Pestell from Norwich Castle Museum this week who enjoyed a site tour after meetings to discuss the archives.
The North West Norfolk History Society came to site for their annual visit and it was good to see them back again. They have been great supporters of SHARP over the years with donations towards the costs of the 25th anniversary conference in 2020 and the publication of the resulting conference proceedings as well as donations towards post excavation analysis. We also gave a tour to the Hunstanton Heritage Centre volunteers. This year, SHARP was invited to create a display at the Hunstanton Heritage Centre and so it was great to be able to give their volunteers further insight into the archaeology of Sedgeford.
Find of the weak was a Roman hobnail when one of the site children helped with the sieving for the evaluation trench. Disarticulated bone has been found within this trench and a potential grave cut could be seen. On the last day of the week, we think we have started to uncover a burial with skeletal remains in ‘articulation’. A ditch has also been found within the trench which may have truncated other features. We will see how the evaluation progresses next week.
The Tuesday lecture was given by Dr Gareth Davies on the emergence of urban elites in York between c.900-1200 AD. Gareth was also the tutor for our new day course 'Anglo-Saxon Sedgeford in its Wider Context’ which was well attended and a great success.
On Wednesday evening we held our annual general meeting (AGM). This saw the voting in of an interim constitution, more in keeping with democratic values of SHARP, as well as the appointment of new trustees and committee members. If you missed the AGM you can read about the background to the 2023 meeting and the minutes here.
Evening entertainment this week included a trip to the fun fair at Hunstanton, dressed as pirates – of course! This is becoming an annual tradition and much fun was had by all.
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.