Community Dig News (Week 1)

In the week before the dig, archaeologists had used the evidence from a geophysical survey to pinpoint the site of nine trenches in the field north of Quay Lane and one in the field to the south. An expert JCB operator then removed the topsoil by precision cutting trenches varying in length from 10 m to 40 m and to a depth of 30-60 cm.

Day 1 – 24 September. After torrential rain the day and night before the dig, the first day was a washout with most of the trenches flooded, some to their full depth of 60 cm. Prospects for any digging in the next few days looked grim.

The prospect looked grim

The prospect looked grim

A 60 cm deep trench filled to the brim with water

A 60 cm deep trench filled to the brim with water

A partially flooded 30 m long trench

A partially flooded 30 m long trench

Day 2 – 25 September. But, because it is based largely on sandy gravel, the field staged a miraculous overnight recovery, draining the water from most of the trenches and allowing some muddy cleaning up work to be carried out. Volunteers worked all day scraping the sides and bottoms of the longest trenches and in the process collecting several bags of Roman pottery. Already project leader Jon Webster could see several areas of potential archaeological interest.

Volunteers set off under cloudy skies

Volunteers set off under cloudy skies

Trench 1 is now clear of water

Trench 1 is now clear of water

The water has drained from Trench 2

The water has drained from Trench 2

Cleaning up work starts

Cleaning up work starts

Cleaning the bottom of a trench under supervision

Cleaning the bottom of a trench under supervision

Day 3 – 26 September. Cleaning of trenches continues, revealing differences in colour between the reddish-brown natural substrate and the blacker areas of disturbed soil, which indicate features of one sort or another. Exactly what, has yet to be established, but the large amount of iron-working slag found during trench cleaning suggests a high level of industrial activity.

Trench 5 showing the difference in colour between sandy substrate and darker worked features

Trench 5 showing the difference in colour between sandy substrate and darker worked features

Working in Trench 6

Working in Trench 6

Trench 4 leads into flood waters from the River Severn

Trench 4 leads into flood waters from the River Severn

Finds from cleaning Trench 2 include fragments of Roman Samian and Severn Valley ware, smelting slag from iron making and two medieval items: part of a ridge tile and a large nail

Finds from cleaning Trench 2 include fragments of Roman Samian and Severn Valley ware, smelting slag from iron making and two medieval items: part of a ridge tile and a large nail

Day 4 – 27 September. Cleaning of trenches was completed and volunteers were shown how to record finds, make plans and take levels in trenches.

Jon Webster shows volunteers how to survey a trench

Jon Webster shows volunteers how to survey a trench

Julie Perks and Chris Adeney finish cleaning Trench 2

Julie Perks and Chris Adeney finish cleaning Trench 2

Features in Trench 5 marked out ready for excavation

Features in Trench 5 marked out ready for excavation

Derek Hurst working in Trench 1

Derek Hurst working in Trench 1

Derek Hurst holds two pieces of Roman pot rim recovered from Trench 1

Derek Hurst holds two pieces of Roman pot rim recovered from Trench 1

Day 5 – 28 September. Work begins on excavating sections of marked features. Children from Hanley Swan Primary School spend the afternoon working in Trench 1.

A possible post hole feature begins to be excavated

A possible post hole feature begins to be excavated

Children from Hanley Swan Primary School working in Trench 1

Children from Hanley Swan Primary School working in Trench 1

Day 6 – 29 September. Senior project manager Derek Hurst picks out some of the interesting finds from the first week of the Hanley community dig: a Malvernian wheel-made pot rim from the end of the Roman period; a Severn Valley tankard base; fragments of Samian ware from Gaul; part of a late medieval chafing dish or cooking pot; a piece of Hartshill-Mancetter mortarium or mixing bowl; Roman tap slag or waste from iron smelting; and a piece of coal indicative of iron smithing work in the area.

Malverian pot rim (view 1)

Malverian pot rim (view 1)

Malverian pot rim (view 2)

Malverian pot rim (view 2)

Piece of medieval mixing bowl

Piece of Roman mixing bowl

Iron smelting waste

Iron smelting waste

Juliet Brown and daughter Anna-May working in Trench 5

Juliet Brown and daughter Anna-May working in Trench 5

Part of a late medieval chafing dish or container of embers to keep food warm.s

Part of a late medieval chafing dish or container of embers to keep food warm

For news of Week 2 click here.

For news of Week 3 click here.

Click on any of the above pictures to view a larger version or watch on the slideshow below.

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