My last day at an archaeological dig although the project continues over the weekend. The aims were to investigate the layout of the mediaeval village and to test the theory that it suffered a contraction in the mid 14th century as a result of the Black Death, very poor harvests and possibly Scottish raids.
The project is in two parts. One comprises opening two trenches across the obvious earthworks of the village green. The photo shows one trench which contains the footings of a wall. Lots of mediaeval pottery shards were found enabling dating. The long thin ‘pipe’ is a tree root from the avenue of lime trees which were planted in 1897 to celebrate the jubilee of Queen Victoria and is well outside the canopy of the nearest tree.
The second part, and the one I was involved with, is a series of small one metre square test excavations throughout the village. Careful recording of the depth and age of any finds, particularly pottery, can give a good indication of the extent of village activity. The positive news is that lots of mediaeval pottery were found with very little later centuries until we get into the ‘modern’ era. But my first test pit was in the village pinfold which we were told was probably in the mediaeval settlements’ back garden. This produced very little finds. But we were assured “the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence”.
For my second test pit we moved into the garden of a house built on top of a rise in the 1970s. We began to dig a hole in the lady’s lawn. Nothing. Dug down a bit more. Nothing. And a bit more. Nothing. But then a small silver coin was found in the spoil heap. The only coin found throughout the project. It was all the talk over lunch. Opinions varied. Mediaeval, Roman, maybe Scottish.
After lunch we continued digging, now down to 60 cm and found a piece of plastic!