Kaims crew, assemble!

Today Kaims Supervisor Graham Dixon reports on the first couple of weeks down at the Bradford Kaims

The Kaims is wet, we all know this. Trench 6 is located next to and in a peat bog. Mix this with a months worth of fairly constant rainfall, and we have something like this.

Trench 6, cleaned up and ready for photography…wait what?

What better time than now to open a new trench in the middle of Embleton’s Bog?

A couple of weeks before the start of the season, the Kaims played host to ex project member Graeme Atwood and Jimmy Adcock of GSB Prospection Ltd. The team of geophysicians ran a magnetometry survey over a spit of raised land which kicks out into Embleton’s Bog, the intention being to find more possible areas of occupation which relate to our already ever expanding site. Magnetometry surveys measure and map out the patterns of relative magnetism in the soil, often affected in the past by burning and the movement of soil. The results were very positive.

The geophysics map of the Bradford Kaims new site, courtesy of GSB.

 The circular, red anomaly represents an area of burning, which we hoped would prove to be similar to that already unearthed in trench 6. With permission from the land owner of the next door field, and a rare sunny day overhead, the Kaims team started to de-turf.

At the suggestion of the geophysics team, a 2 metre by 20 metre trench was plotted out cutting right through the middle of this anomaly. Our intention was to uncover either end of the area of burning in order to understand its extent fully. Just below the topsoil in what is now Trench 42, approximately 15 cm down, we came onto the burnt layer, paydirt. Kaims aficionados may recognise how similar the dark, burnt layer of soil is to what we have found in the previous seasons overlying the paved hearth feature in Trench 6. Again this has turned out to be packed full of broken up burnt stone. And in the middle of this, right at the centre, lying on one of its narrow edges, appeared a large flat slab of stone.

The stone slab from Trench 42, just after deturfing.

While only a few inches of this is currently visible out of the bottom of the trench, the mere presence of an unnaturally placed upright stone is enough excite your average archaeologist. Just poking out of the soil, the stone also looks like it has been pierced, as there is a circular hole in one side. This is not shown on its opposite side, as we have not dug downwards like the antiquarians of old, but this will be resolved as soon as the time is right. Our first thoughts, a Bronze Age cist burial. These are formed by placing large slabs into a box shape. These are held together by the weight of the stones, along with smaller packing stones beneath the soil they are in. I hasten to add at this point that it is difficult to tell anything for certain, however a cist burial, cut into an area of burnt and cracked stone would be a great piece of archaeology for our students to witness, and learn from. While no secure dating evidence has come out of the new trench so far, cist burials are generally seen in the Bronze Age. This would make it far from contemporary with our middle to late Stone Age site in the field next door. Having said this, it would be great to find that the site has been used and re-used for multiple phases of occupation throughout the past.

More to follow, but till then, Kaims out.

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