More digging, more finds

Excavating the wall trenches

Busily excavating the northern wall trench

Plank ghost excavated

Here can see the exact shape of the plank that would have made up part of the wall of the hall building. The surrounding pit was dug for a large door post, and the wall trench was dug for the walls after the positioning of the door.

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.

Plank ghost

Here you can see perfect the outline of one of the planks in the northern wall trench of the hall building. It appears to cut into the large post pit for one of the door posts of the northern entrance to the hall.


Hazel discovered the toilet set as soon as she started work on the SFB!

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.

Toilet set

The copper alloy toilet set in the ground. It consists of three pointed tools, two of which still rotate on their central ring

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.

Bone comb

The second bone comb from the sunken-featured building, a similar shape and style to the first one, but slightly smaller.

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.


Heather has to employ a ladder to get in and out of her pit!

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.

Sophie and her cess pit

Sophie’s cess pit has some very nice stratigraphy in it, as well as Sophie herself

Grace and Cian

Cian and Grace don’t have a lot of room to maneuver!

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.

Mesolithic area

Tom, David and Honza excavate a portion of the Mesolithic area that covers nearly all of our site, looking for the distribution of worked flint.

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.

A grid system is applied to excavate a large surface area

A grid system is applied to excavate a large surface area

Ken Fisher

Ken Fisher’s reconstruction of the hall building. So far we haven’t found any evidence of the raking posts suggested in the drawing, although it is difficult to suggest how the roof would have been supported without them. We’re on the hunt!

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!

Ken Fisher reconstruction

Ken has drawn the hall using materials from the site – the reddish-orange burnt daub from the walls of the structures and, blackened charcoal.

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!

Alexandra blogging

My spot on the side of the trench – I can blog and supervise at the same time, that is, until my battery runs out!

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3 Responses to More digging, more finds

  1. Helen Knox says:

    Better and better! How great to find another comb and a toilet set. I await each new blog with impatience and excitement!

  2. Lisa says:

    What lovely cesspits! Can I pursuade someone to collect micromorph samples? 🙂

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