Welcome to the first in-the-field blog post of 2013! Last Thursday we began stripping the site by machine in anticipation of beginning bright and early on Monday morning. It was great to have the machining finished to be able to put people on site straight away.
Our students and volunteers have braved the hot sun and the concreted clay in the trench and are making amazing progress with clearing away the loose spoil and scraping back the clay to reveal the archaeology beneath.
We have a few new staff members to introduce you to! The rest of the team was introduced last year and we’ve nearly all returned. First up is Zoe Knapp, who is getting settled in as a new site supervisor. Zoe is a zooarchaeology specialist, and is doing a PhD at the University of Reading on the animal bone assemblage from Lyminge.
She has extensive field experience having been a supervisor at Sedgeford and we’re delighted to have her on the project.
We are also joined by Stuart Hunnisett as our new logistics manager. Stuart was a very hardworking volunteer on the project last year and is also a local resident, and when the position became vacant we asked him to come on board.
This year we also have two assistant supervisors on board – Ben Parker joins us as assistant field supervisor and Emily Harwood as assistant finds supervisor. Both Ben and Emily are students at the University of Kent and were with us last year so know the site really well. We’re really pleased to have them back and in two of the trainee roles for students that we are able to offer.
Finally, we are extremely pleased to have Bethany Wood join us this year in a new post for the project. Bethany is an undergraduate student at the University of Reading and is in charge of visitors services and public outreach on site. If you are walking by or visiting the site directly Bethany will be on hand throughout the dig to explain to you what is happening and what we’ve been finding.
She is also undertaking a project for her dissertation to find out how much impact we are having on the local area and enhance public engagement, so if you are visiting the site she will be delighted to chat to you about how you found out about the dig and what you have learned. If you’re volunteering on the dig then she’ll almsot certainly grab you to talk about your experience as a volunteer at Lyminge!
As I write, the trench is being cleaned back by hand to reveal the archaeology. We experienced some pretty unusual weather with the high temperatures this week and last,
which has meant that machining and cleaning back the site has been particularly difficult. The natural geology on Tayne Field is clay on top of chalk, and the clay bakes very hard in the hot sun. This means that when we attempt to hand-clean the site using trowels and mattocks, it’s like troweling cement! It makes it very difficult to see the different colours of the archaeological features and we have to water the site a great deal and cover the areas we aren’t working on in black plastic to keep it damp. Today we finally have some cooler weather and the site isn’t drying out too quickly – features and finds are much easier to see and we are revealing some very interesting archaeology.
In machining and cleaning back we began to see archaeology almost immediately. Already we have located the other ends of the Saxo-Norman ditches revealed in last year’s dig. Our trench this year is immediately adjacent to the 2012 trench, to the north. We have also revealed the foundations of two of the World War II mess huts that were located on Tayne Field. We’re going to be recording these foundations just as carefully as anything else on site, and investigating to see if any Anglo-Saxon archaeology lies underneath.
Those of you that followed the blog last year will remember that we had what’s known as a ‘sunken-featured building’ (SFB), which was packed full of exciting early Anglo-Saxon finds. This year it looks like we have two definite SFBs and perhaps a third, which will certainly keep us busy! We also are starting to see that we might have a timber hall on a north-south orientation – we have postholes and possible wall trenches in the right places so I will keep you posted on progress in this area! I’ll be writing about all these features very soon
Don’t forget that although we have official site tours of the dig every Saturday at 2pm you can visit at any time and Bethany will answer your questions and show you round!