Thursday, 12 September 2013

Progress in week 3 and another chance to visit us!

Throughout this week our team of volunteers have been working hard to uncover more of the #DigMinster site, as well as documenting the archaeology that we have observed so far, despite some wet weather restricting our work and delaying us at times. This has involved the professional archaeologists training small groups of volunteers in the methods and techniques of archaeological recording. To the newcomer, these concepts may seem fairly weird (and they often still remain so for many archaeologists as well!), but all the volunteers have accepted and risen to the challenge. We make sure all of the archaeological features we find are recorded properly and thoroughly as an excavation of a site, by its very nature, is a destructive exercise. As a result, making sure we have an accurate record of what we have found is always an essential part of the archaeological process, though this is especially pronounced when working in the sensitive conditions of a known graveyard.

Embedded image permalink
Explaining the art of 'context' recording to a group of volunteers; each archaeological feature is given a 'context number' and described in detail on individual 'context sheets'

Readers of this blog may remember us talking about our 'pre-excavation plan' in the previous post, a scale drawing of the site tied-in to a grid set out across the site area. This is now fully complete and all of the features seen in the trench have been marked onto it and the height at which they were observed has been worked out. This process of working out a height, called 'levelling', allows us to measure the position of our archaeology in relation to sea-level and thus it is recorded in the vertical as well as the horizontal position. With this, our site plans are transformed from a purely 2-D record into a 3-D one!

Embedded image permalink
Archaeologist Mike Nicholson teaches our volunteers the principles of surveying using a dumpy level

With the completion of the plan and the ongoing recording taking place, we have been able to excavate deeper down in small areas of the site where graves are not going to be disturbed. These small test pits have been targeted onto some of the high response areas, or 'hotspots', seen on the geophysical survey and have been excavated for up to 1.5m below the ground surface. Unfortunately, as yet, all that has been encountered is natural sand and no structural remains or finds related to a possible early minster building have been found. This is disappointing, but not totally definitive in terms of ruling out the presence of a minster on this site. There is still plenty of work to be done before we get to that stage!         

Part of this further work has involved opening up our trench extension, which heads east from our main area into the centre of the area of potential building remains shown on the geophysical results. At the far end of the extended area we have encountered a brick structure, found just below the topsoil. This is certainly not a minster building, but it is interesting all the same; it is probably the brick platform for a 19th century box tomb and will be carefully planned, excavated and recorded over the coming days, just like the rest of the archaeology on the site. 

Embedded image permalink
The trench extension during initial excavation. The remains of a brick structure are just being revealed at the end closest to the camera

Last Saturday we had a successful open day where visitors were welcomed onto the site. Hundreds of people came to see the work we are doing and were given site tours at regular intervals, with a report appearing in the Kidderminster Shuttle newspaper this week

This kept our boss Victoria very busy all day and the same thing will be happening this Saturday, except with a break for lunch this time! Also visiting us and setting up craft skills and combat areas just outside the dig area will be the Svartland Living History Society, a family-friendly re-enactment group who specialise in Viking and Anglo-Saxon demonstrations. 

Embedded image permalink
Victoria giving site tours to visitors at the Open Day last Saturday

So, once again, if you'd like to see the site, find out more about what we're up to and why we're doing it, see some of the finds and talk to the archaeologists and volunteers, come along to our Open Day this Saturday 14th September. We'll be there from 10:00 until 16:00. The postcode is DY10 2JN, and there is parking available in the public car park next to the Church.
If you can't make it, our DigMinster site Twitter account and Flickr page continue to be updated on a regular basis so you can follow what we are up to. Check them out!

Richard Bradley

No comments:

Post a Comment