It’s now Thursday and the dig has well and truly got underway. The whole trench has been stripped, students and volunteers have arrived and we’re cleaning back the site.
As the spoil came off with the digger we had the services of local volunteer metal-detectorists Steve Harmer and David Holman who scanned the topsoil for anything of archaeological and local history interest, and found all sorts of remains from the more recent history of Lyminge. A 15th century jeton, perhaps used for commercial transactions or games as a substitute for coinage was found.
Lots of burnt remains came up, which according to local knowledge is likely to relate to a big bonfire that was started on VE day, 1945, in celebration of the end of war. A discussion at the local pub revealed that some of the pieces of machinery we found might relate to ‘Lyminge Day’ lawnmower races!
The recent evidence is fascinating, but we’ve also found much more ancient archaeology. Almost the first archaeological remains that we found relate to the prehistoric past. We’re here to investigate the Anglo-Saxon past of Lyminge, but we’re already able to say that people were living in Lyminge in the Mesolithic which stretched from 10,000-5000 BC. Worked flint is coming up in great quantities and is a very exciting addition to our knowledge of the area.
Thankfully we do also have some pretty convincing Anglo-Saxon evidence too! A lead loom weight was found in the spoil heap by David Holman, exactly the same kind as was found in 2010, and Saxon pottery is coming up too. Most excitingly we seem to have a very particular kind of Anglo-Saxon building, known as a sunken-featured building (SFB). This is a small timber building for craft-working or storage which had a rectangular pit cut underneath it. There is debate in the archaeological world about whether the floor was
raised over the pit or people stepped straight onto the pit floor. Excitingly for us, rubbish and waste material was often placed into these pits after the building went out of use, and we even have evidence for ritual deposits (such as our plough coulter from last year) having been placed into the pits. You can see in the picture below the dark rectangular area that is just the right size and shape for an SFB.
Now that the whole trench is open we are cleaning back the site. This is a difficult but important process that removes all the loose soil and helps us see the archaeological features clearly in the natural clay and chalk. We’re steaming ahead as you can see!
The weather has been glorious until today (Friday) but perhaps a little hot for such hard work – we’ve had to rig up some temporary shade for the hard-at-work diggers at lunchtimes, and we’re putting up our tents that have been used for many archaeological campaigns. Our army tent dates to 1952!
We’ve been checking the weather and hurriedly got the tent up in time for some rain this morning. Of course as soon as we pulled back the plastic to get the site nicely wet it stopped raining but more is forecast, which is good news for both our diggers and seeing the archaeological features.
Not only is the site up and running properly now, but our signage has arrived too! We now have smart canvas noticeboards explaining our presence with information about the dig and pictures from past excavations in the village.
Everything is looking good so far, with almost half the site cleaned back by the morning of Friday, week 1, a Lyminge record! Blisters are forming and boots are getting muddy – those who haven’t dug before or even in a while are feeling achey but everyone seems to be having a really good time.