Day 13 - Backfill minus one!

Posted by Cait - 20:02 on 23 July 2011

Today has been all sampling, sectioning, drawing and delineating levels above ODN!!!

Yes, as we prepare to backfill our trenches, some very carefully and over a semi-permeable layer of membrane - because we are returning to them next year - we have been recording and sorting all the insights that have emerged at the ends of our trowels, hoes and mattocks.

Martin and Bob have continued to excavate down the half-section along the tumbling spread of rubbular cobbles and underlying big boulders that hug the base of the slope of the mound.  What is clear is that we are looking at a slipped stony context that may represent a collapsed revetting of the mound, or other structural elements, and may even include some later dumping of stone into this already convenient stony store.  What is clear is that we can see the stone falling into a cut in the redeposited natural sand that appears to make up the earthwork of the mound.  Whether this cut rings the base of the mound, we will have to investigate further next year.  It is not yet clearly wide enough that we might consider it to be a ditch, but more targeted excavation at this spot next season could well produce some very satisfying results.

In Trench 2, over in the Barley Field, Rosemary and Malcolm have also been digging into their half section of that part of Sondage Y that is opposite Allan’s Test Pit – which has just gone down and down.  In the section they have discovered differentiated layers of small, sharp stones, overlaying a cobble layer and all this above a degraded sandstone surface, possibly underlaid by fragmented slabs of varying stone types.  All this is very like the layering of that opposing Test Pit..  But, we are really only getting a keyhole peek in each case and so, resolving whether we are examining made, modified or natural surfaces needs further examination and indicates that next year we can consider further open area excavation of the sub-soils here.

A curiously semi-circular micaceous schist slab, with a pit of dark loam resting in what appears to be a central demi-perforation at the centre, lay just above the natural bedrock in the Test Pit.  The stone was so degraded that it crumbled to the touch of the trowel, but not before we drew it in its context, to scale, photographed it and sampled the contents of the context.  Whispers of quern stones, post pads and deliberate depositions might have been heard, but we’ll need to do a bit more head scratching together before we come back to you on that one.

And, of course, today there was more Flotation, Flotation, Flotation, as we sifted and vibrated through our heavy sediment samples in order to float up those precious fragments of grain, seeds, charcoal and bone that might give us an indication of the date and nature of the human activities of growing, eating, processing and depositing that will enliven that archaeological remains across the site.  The Flotation Tank was definitely an active centre of super sampling sensation and I think Karen, Betty, Kay, Alpha and all those who joined them will agree that it was also the centre of some chuckle worthy craic!

Kirsty, Siobhan and Johnathan have completed some sterling work cleaning and photographing all of our small finds - careful cleaning and fine photography have revealed some hitherto unseen details including further definition of the possible stamped identification or weight details on our copper ingot and a bonnie Britannia on the George II penny.

We hope the laughter and sunshine stay with us tomorrow as we round u all those little bits of un-dones and necessaries before backfilling all the earth that has moved and lay the last turf over fabulous Foulis, in readiness for our return next year.

Your Comments

Comment by Nancy Kinloc at 22:17 on 24 July 2011.
Despite being tired and very stiff – and probably about to be very very stiff tomorrow – I must tell you I thought both of you ran the dig at Foulis fabtastically well. You were both always so cheery. It must be hard work keeping a troupe of enthusiastic amateurs and virgin diggers on the right track and make it all fun for us.
I was sorry to have to leave the party so early, leaving so much delicious food uneaten (by me) but I had a meeting to go to later in the evening, but thanks anyway, that was lovely of you.
Hope to see you at the post dig meetings.
Very best wishes for all your future plans.
Comment by Betty McLean at 13:29 on 25 July 2011.
Thank you Cait and Cathy for a truly memorable experience despite my aching joints!!. Have learned so much about excavation skills along with fun and fellowship. Look forward to next year. Betty.
Comment by kay burton at 19:39 on 25 July 2011.
Thank you all for your WONDERFUL company --
What a BRilliant and enlightening experience it has been.
Such Fun Too
All Best Wishes
Comment by Cait at 13:52 on 26 July 2011.
It was such a joy to meet and work with all of you - I felt it was a real privilege to be part of a very special wee dig community at Foulis... Looking forward to next year. Hoping that it won't be that long before we meet up again though. THANK YOU each of you! C

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Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands (ARCH), The Goods Shed, The Old Station, Strathpeffer, Ross-Shire, Scotland IV14 9DH
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