It has been a while since we heard from Trenches 6 & 10 at the Bradford Kaims, but absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence! Area Supervisor Tom Gardner, and Assistant Supervisors Sofie Black and Alex Wood have been busy over the last few weeks, and have some interesting discoveries to show for their efforts.
We began the season by addressing our research aims to take into account work done during post-ex in the off-season (see blog 1 and 2) which indicated that our burnt mounds have distinct areas of deposition and activity, rather than being homogeneous. Alex and his team of students have been focussing on an area in the south of Trench 6 where our earliest mounds, 6080 and 6086, overlay and interface with previous admixing events and a high concentration of negative features. Excavation of these has indicated an intense phase of pre-mound activity focussed around a series of pits and postholes filled with cannel coal. This activity is then covered by episodes of mound material and more pits, leading to a complex sequence to be unpicked!
Sofie and her students have been working in Trench 10, a new area opened over the bottleneck in our wetland system, which has produced a high density of organic finds and features from the peat. This area was radiocarbon dated last year with results showing continued activity from the Early Bronze Age back to the Late Mesolithic. Sofie has been tackling the water-table in her battle to expose layers of timber platform, wooden sickle handles, shaped planks, and concentrations of processed hazelnut shells.
In the middle of these two areas, Tom has been leading the excavation of the majority of Trench 6, focussing on linking Alex and Sofie through a central section which takes the burnt mounds at the top in Alex’s area of the trench, through the platform, to Trench 10. Helped by our experienced cohort of students and community volunteers, this area intends also to link our bracketed artefactual and scientific dates from the mounds, to the radiocarbon dates in the platform, and to expose the interfaces and architectural makeup of the platform across a length of twenty-four meters!
Our final piece of exciting activity is a relatively new addition, begun at the start of week five. We have sunk a slot through the depth of our platform in order to see its structural changes in section. This has now reached 1.8m from topsoil level without hitting the bottom, suggesting that our platform has a long history of deposition. Fire-cracked stones mixed heavily into the upper layers suggest a contemporaneity with the burnt mounds, but previous to these, the platform must have existed by itself!
It has been a good couple of weeks of archaeology, teaching, training, and fun in the variable weather! We are in a good position to push forward to the end of the season, with the promise of linking all of our areas and lifting a lot of our wooden artefacts. Please feel free to email any questions or request to us, and remember that our community volunteer days are Wednesdays and Sundays!