What progress we’re making! The depth of the wall trenches on the building is being revealed, and more finds are being made. Some of the planks that would have made up the walls of the hall are coming up really nicely as we dig down.
Here you can see, below the jumble of flints and other stones, the clear outline of the shape of the original plank, darker brown in colour compared to the surrounding chalky deposit.
The SFB has been particularly productive again in the last few days, even though the layer we are digging through now seems to have much less in it than before – we’re not having to dig carefully around huge jaw bones any more! Just before the open day, a very delicate ‘toilet set’ was discovered by Hazel.
A toilet set is a small set of bronze tools attached to a wire ring. They often have scrapers for nails, ‘ear scoops’ for the age-old ear wax problem, and tweezers.
Our set appears to be comprised of three pointed tools, all possible nail scrapers. Their condition is excellent, and two of the tools still rotate on their wire ring as if they were new.
The SFB was again an exciting place to be only a few days later when I found the second bone comb of the season, just ten minutes before packing up. It’s not often a supervisor gets to find anything remotely exciting, but I was cleaning up a small area today to speed things along and I suddenly saw the sheen of polished bone, and a small ring and dot decoration.
As everyone worked hard around me to put the plastic back on site, I had to excavate the comb as quickly as I could, as we couldn’t leave it exposed over night. As you can see it is another beautiful triangular composite comb, slightly smaller and more delicate than the first one, but with none of the comb teeth remaining.
Not only have we had some very ‘pretty’ finds, but some of our latrine pits are rather dramatic too. The Saxo-Norman evidence from the site is beginning to look quite unusual. The number of cess pits in our trench is more akin to a dense urban population than a rural settlement of the period, which leads us to ask questions about the kind of settlement Lyminge was in the Saxo-Norman period.
A rural population would have spread waste on the fields to manure the crops, whereas cess pits would be dug to deal with the problem in urban areas. In excavating these pits we hope to be able to begin to get some answers, but certainly the character of the settlement at Lyminge has changed dramatically over the centuries.
We’ve also begun to get to grips with the Mesolithic archaeology in the south-eastern part of the site.
David, Honza and Tom are taking down the Mesolithic area using a grid system, sieving to look for microliths. Mircoliths are the smallest of stone tools around 1cm in length. They trying to understand the way in which this layer, which is present across the whole of the site, was built up. It is very likely to be the remains of a flint-working area that has been heavily affected by natural processes such as worm-action, rooting from plants, and animal burrows.
An extra dimension to our community involvement is the welcoming of local artists to the dig to draw and photograph the excavation in progress as part of a community art project, run by Jack Coulson. Artist Ken Fisher has drawn an interpretative reconstruction of our hall building using ink and watercolours, but has also drawn a wonderful picture of the hall building using materials that it was actually built with – burnt daub for the red ochre-type colour and charcoal for the black lines. He has wonderfully reconstructed the hall using original materials!
Digging is progressing well now that we’re in the penultimate week, and I know I’ll be able to bring you more exciting news of the goings on on Tayne Field very soon. Every day there is something new to discuss, interpret, or just admire, and I’m always blogging from the side of the trench as I attempt to supervise the progress of the SFB while keeping everyone updated with our news!